No surprise the Northern District of California needed an overflow room to house all the well-wishers who turned up for Laurel Beeler’s induction onto the magistrate bench Wednesday afternoon. Fifteen years as a federal prosecutor and service on enough professional committees to fell a lesser lawyer makes for a lot of contacts.
But as speaker after speaker came forward to extol Beeler, it became clear the turnout had as much to do with what they described as her honesty, compassion and sense of justice -– along with some salsa dancing talent.
Beeler took over a magistrate court in Oakland early this year after Wayne Brazil retired. A swell of prosecutors, defense lawyers and judges from the magistrate and district courts and the Ninth Circuit came to her formal ceremony, where speakers proceeded in a mock version of This American Life. Co-emcee Mary McNamara of Swanson McNamara Haller pronounced it “a very Beelerian concept.”
Some highlights: Assistant U.S. Attorney Karen Beausey said she and Beeler shared matching mood rings and recounted a Beeler mantra, “If it’s the right thing to do, that’s what you do.” Fellow prosecutor Pete Axelrod, on first meeting her, thought: “How can someone who talks so fast make me feel so calm?” Assistant federal defender Shawn Halbert said Beeler’s smarts and ability to treat everyone with respect means “there’s nothing else to do but agree with her, or be unreasonable.”
And McNamara closed by saying Beeler was used to talking to judges like a colleague, “as opposed to an unwashed supplicant,” and always approached defendants holistically. “She also believes in that great concept called redemption,” McNamara said.
For her part, Beeler thanked everyone for coming, paid homage to her mentor, former Ninth Circuit Judge Cecil Poole, and summarized, almost matter of factly: “Many of you know I throw an excellent party.”