New Superior Court commissioner will dish out justice

mnorth@mercedsunstar.comOctober 21, 2012 

— There's a new face in the Merced County justice system.

Jeanne Schechter, former chief deputy city attorney for the city of Merced, was sworn into her position as Superior Court commissioner by presiding Judge Brian McCabe during a ceremony Friday afternoon in the Merced County Board of Supervisors Chambers.

After the ceremony, Schechter said she's excited about the opportunity to serve as a commissioner. Her experience includes several years of legal work in the region.

"Prior to coming to Merced, I worked for the Stanislaus County district attorney's office for 12½ years, and there I prosecuted all kinds of crimes, ranging from petty theft, DUI all the way up to special circumstance murder cases," Schechter said.

In 2004, Schechter came to the city of Merced to work as a deputy city attorney. She was promoted to chief deputy city attorney in 2006 and worked in that position until Thursday.

In Merced, commissioners are commonly used interchangeably with judges, Schechter said.

"I will be doing everything a judge will be doing," she said.

Judges are appointed by the governor and serve a six-year term before running for re-election. Commissioners, on the other hand, are hired by the court.

Schechter said she had been considering judicial positions for a while and when the commissioner spot opened up, she thought it was the right move for her, so she applied.

"I had started feeling like it was time to take my career to the next level -- do something different, but in a way I could still continue serving the public, because I really do enjoy public work," she said.

Schechter graduated from Ohio State University with a degree in business administration. She graduated from law school at Loyola University in Los Angeles in 1990.

During Friday's swearing-in ceremony, Judge Carol Ash said Schechter is a welcome addition.

"I am so glad that she's here, and I'd like to welcome her. It's about time to have at least two women on the bench," Ash said.

Judge Mark Bacciarini, who was on the executive committee of judges who selected Schechter, said he expects her to do well in the position.

"I'm really, really pleased that Jeanne decided to take the offer and become our commissioner," he said Friday. "She was a terrific interviewee, and she'll be a wonderful addition to our court."

Linda Romero-Soles, chief executive officer of the court, said there were 27 qualified applicants from all over the state who applied for the position. That pool of contenders was reduced to five.

"She was the best candidate," Romero-Soles said.

Several of the applicants were "very qualified," McCabe said.

"We were thoroughly impressed with Jeanne, and so it's no surprise to (Merced City Attorney) Greg Diaz and those in the city that we quickly snagged her before she changed her mind," McCabe said, drawing laughter from the dozens of people who attended the ceremony.

Schechter is replacing Commissioner Ralph Cook, who retired in August.

Reporter Mike North can be reached at (209) 385-2453 or mnorth@mercedsunstar.com.

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