So many people showed up at a Monterey County Bar Association lunch honoring former Sixth District Justice Nat Agliano on Thursday that more tables and chairs had to be brought in.
Current and former Monterey judges and lawyers, plus a big gathering of Sixth District justices and his current colleagues at the Silicon Valley JAMS office, turned out to see Agliano accept a lifetime achievement award from the bar association. (Pictured here with Agliano are, from left, Justices Nathan Mihara, Patricia Bamattre-Manoukian, and Wendy Clark Duffy). The low-key jurist looked rather uncomfortable amid all the attention, and when Duffy introduced him, she showered him with praise almost apologetically.
“I know you’re almost reluctantly here because you’re so modest,” she said.
Agliano’s former colleagues on both the appellate and trial court benches said he has always been a great person to work with.
Bamattre-Manoukian said Agliano showed her the ropes when she first joined the Sixth District. “He’s a kind, gracious, smart, engaged jurist,” she said.
“You write something really good,” she ordered.
Another one of Agliano’s mentees, retired Judge Richard Silver -- who’s now also at JAMS -- said Agliano was a steadying influence on the Monterey court. He said Agliano helped him as a young judge when he was assigned some high-profile cases involving labor strikes led by Cesar Chavez.
“When you say Nat Agliano, it’s the same as saying ‘gentleman,’” he added.
There was one anecdote about a time that Agliano was not so calm and genteel. As Duffy told the story, Agliano, an avid golfer, had bought a new driver with plans to take it out over the weekend. The following Monday, the court’s veteran clerk and administrator, Michael Yerly, asked him how it went.
“Well, it’s in the lake,” Agliano replied.
Duffy said she wished someone had been there to snap some video of the even-keeled judge losing his cool on the golf course. “I think that would have gone viral on YouTube,” she said.
When the honorary lunch crowd cleared out of the National Steinbeck Center in Salinas, Agliano stood, smiling, and said he had a good time. Not so much because of the lifetime achievement award, he said, but because it’s nice to see the legal community get together.
“It’s good for morale,” he said.