Thursday, 13 June 2024

Blum takes the bench in Friday ceremony


As his wife Debra looked on, newly appointed Lake County Superior Court Judge Andrew Blum took the oath of office from Judge Richard Martin at the Lake County Courthouse in Lakeport, Calif., on Friday, July 23, 2010. Photo by Elizabeth Larson.

LAKEPORT – A 30-year chapter in Lake County's judicial history came to its formal end on Friday, and a new chapter opened.

Judge Arthur Mann looked on as his successor, Andrew Blum, was sworn in as the newest Lake County Superior Court judge on Friday afternoon.

Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger announced his selection of Blum, 50, to succeed to the Department 3 bench June 30, as Lake County News has reported. Mann announced his retirement last year after three decades on the bench.

Blum's new Department 3 courtroom was filled to overflowing with retired and current judges, friends, family and community members who came for the swearing-in.

His friend and colleague on the bench, Judge Richard Martin, led the 40-minute ceremony.

Blum, formerly the county's chief deputy district attorney under then-District Attorney Stephen Hedstrom – another of the Lake County Superior Court judges – was Martin's boss for a few years in the Lake County District Attorney's Office before Martin left to become attorney general of Kosrae State, Micronesia, Martin explained.

Later, Martin invited Blum and his wife, Debra – also an attorney – to Micronesia, where they accepted jobs working for Martin. After Martin left to return to the states, Blum succeeded him as attorney general there.

Martin, who was sworn in as a judge five years ago this month, noted, “As of today, I won't be the newest judge anymore. I'll be part way to a veteran.”

Blum already has been working for the county, it was noted during the ceremony. This week, he joined some of the county's other judges for two days of travel to five other recently built courthouses – from Napa to Watsonville – to get ideas for Lakeport's new courthouse, currently in the planning stages.

He received congratulations from the other judges, including Mann, who told him he will enjoy a rewarding career as a judge, and Judge David Herrick, who said he admired Blum's dedication and explained that Blum volunteered his time to make the road trip to the Northern California courthouses.

Hedstrom said Blum was only 29 years old when he joined the District Attorney's Office. At 50 Blum “still looks like a kid from my aged vantage point,” Hedstrom said.

“I can't believe you're old enough to join the rest of us on this old bench,” he added.

Blum was Hedstrom's chief deputy district attorney from 1992 to 1997. More recently Blum has worked for the Commission on Judicial Performance, in which capacity he prosecutes judges for misconduct.

“We have absolutely no personal knowledge of his work” on that commission, Hedstrom quipped.

Hedstrom went on to note that as a prosecutor Blum demonstrated complete integrity and honesty in his work, from case evaluation to filing charges, and that he has the right “judicial temperament.”

While the job carries a lot of stress both for judges and their families, Blum “can count on incredible support from all of the court staff. It's unequaled,” said Hedstrom.

He concluded by telling Blum, “I have no doubt, and everyone here has no doubt, that you'll be a superb judge.”

Judge Vincent Lechowick told Blum, “You'll have fun next week,” referring to Blum's first week on the job.”

Blum also received congratulations from several of the county's retired judges.

Judge John J. Golden offered one sentence of advice – “When in doubt, remain silent” – and with that said no more, which caused the gallery to burst into laughter, as did Judge Robert Crone, sitting beside him.

Crone told Blum that by the time he was done with his judicial career he would have affected everyone in Lake County either directly or indirectly through different kinds of decisions.

“It's an important job, it's a challenging job,” Crone said.

Judge Richard Freeborn told Blum that the role of judge, is “a great joy and pleasure.”

Freeborn said they all went into the law to help others, and he urged Blum to be a part of the community and to get to know its citizens.

He said Blum will occasionally see “frequent flyers” in the system – people who constantly appear in the courts – but sometimes those people manage to get their life on track, and Freeborn said Blum will then realize he treated those people with dignity and respect.

“Everyone in this room wants to see you do well,” Freeborn said.

He added, “It's a team effort.”

Judge Betty Irwin congratulated Blum and wished him luck, compassion and energy.

When it came time for Blum to be sworn in, Martin called him and his wife forward, and administered the oath. Afterward, Debra Blum helped her husband put on his new robe.

Martin then introduced the new judge to a standing ovation, escorted him to the bench and handed him his gavel.


“Now what do I do?” Blum joked once the gavel was placed in his hand.

Blum introduced his family – including his three children, mother and father-in-law – and told the courtroom, “It is truly an honor to have been chosen to succeed Judge Mann.”

He said he spent years prosecuting judges “who weren't like this man.”

When he worked for the District Attorney's Office, Blum said he assigned attorneys to courtrooms, and occasionally would treat himself to working in Mann's court, which always was run smoothly and professionally.

“You always knew you would have a good day” in Mann's court, Blum said, noting Mann's remarkable ability to put people at ease.

Noting that he will look to Mann as a role model, Blum led the room in giving the retiring judge a standing ovation in thanks.

In his work traveling around the state with the Commission on Judicial Performance, Blum said he has gained a good idea of what's expected of judges, “or at least I know what not to do.”

He asked for everyone's help and support as he learns his new role.

Blum said the county was fortunate to have the judges it does – both retired and active. Not all court systems work as smoothly, he said.

Before coming to Lake County Blum had worked as a deputy district attorney in Los Angeles. “You want to talk about some culture shock.”

There, Blum was among more than 900 prosecutors, and he only met the district attorney once.

When he was hired by the Lake County District Attorney's Office on his second application – Martin was hired over him on his first go-round, he pointed out – he drove up to the county with his young son and found Hedstrom waiting for him at the courthouse on a Saturday morning.

Hedstrom had a Realtor run a list of prospective homes and even helped him pick out a place before inviting Blum and his son to stay with him. Hedstrom's wife, Linda, fixed them dinner and breakfast the next morning, and sent Blum's son, Michael, home with a new toy.

“Daddy, I really love Lake County,” he recalled his son saying as they drove away.

After he invited everyone to an evening barbecue at the Lakeport Yacht Club, and with the ceremony drawing to a close, Blum asked, “Is there anything else?”

He then announced, “Court is adjourned.”

As part of a tradition among the judges, Martin passed to Blum a framed passage from Justice Learned Hand's "Spirit of Liberty,” which had been done in calligraphy by Judge Golden's wife, Gail.

The passage always goes to the newest judge, and is meant to offer inspiration and guidance.

Martin noted during the ceremony that despite the frustrations, there is no job more rewarding, especially when a judge figures out how to solve a problem.

The passage includes the following:

“A judge’s life, like every other, has in it much of drudgery, senseless bickerings, stupid obstinacies, captious pettyfogging, all disguising and obstructing the only sane purpose which can justify the whole endeavor. These take an inordinate part of his time; they harass and befog the unhappy wretch, and at times almost drive him from that bench where like any other workman he must do his work. If that were all, his life would be mere misery, and he a distracted arbiter between irreconcilable extremes. But there is something else that makes it – anyway to those curious creatures who persist in it – a delectable calling. For when the case is all in, and the turmoil stops, and after he is left alone, things begin to take form. From his pen or in his head, slowly or swiftly as his capacities admit, out of the murk the pattern emerges, his pattern, the expression of what he has seen and what he has therefore made, the impress of his self upon the not-self, upon the hitherto formless material of which he was once but a part and over which he has now become the master. That is a pleasure which nobody who has felt it will be likely to underrate.”

E-mail Elizabeth Larson at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. . Follow Lake County News on Twitter at and on Facebook at .

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