santa cruz judges
February 2020

These Judges Judge Your Kids

By Bob Derber

In a January GUiSC article, “Judges Matter”, author Annrae Angel was spot on: our Family Court judges impact Santa Cruz every day and in significant ways.  Their decisions touch our basic fabric – family structure and the protection of our children when parents are in conflict.

We are fortunate to have two ‘bench officers’ who are not just legal scholars.  They bring significant life-experiences to the court.  They are judges Paul Marigonda and Kim Baskett.

santa cruz judges

Most divorcing parents don’t hire attorneys, and they often appear before these judges to ‘make a call’ when they cannot agree upon a matter.  The two parents also often present very different pictures of the same circumstance.  There’s a great deal at stake, and they know the judge may ask them questions when they are in court.

But aside from being judges, who are these individuals?  

Firstly, both judges are parents themselves.  Like us, they navigated their own children through our Santa Cruz school system and dealt in their homes the same issues that we face.  They are husbands, wives, fathers, mothers and sons and daughters themselves. Both judges are now at or over 60 years of age and have a bundle of life-experiences that can help you understand where they are ‘coming from’.

Do you recall Pacific Pack and Pants on ‘the Mall’ in Santa Cruz.  Do you remember the tent it occupied when the ‘89 quake destroyed so many mall buildings.  Well, it was Judge Baskett managing the business as her father could not.   And while she ran the business, she was raising three children, attending night school and carried the worries of a mother whose husband, as a Santa Cruz Sheriff, faced danger daily.  Keep this in mind if you appear before her.

And Judge Marigonda?  Perhaps he cleared your table at his parent’s Italian restaurant while he was in high school. And before he became a judge, he served us as a team-member of the Santa Cruz District Attorney’s Office for years.  Scotts Valley residents will recall when he was a city councilman and mayor some 20 years ago.  All the while, his shepherded with his wife their two boys through the Scotts Valley schools.  Yes, the Marigonda names on the Scotts Valley High Falcon Football roster were his boys – and not all that long ago either!  

We are fortunate.  Our Family Court judges are parents themselves.  They know Santa Cruz and have faced many of the parental challenges we have.  When you appear before either, keep this in mind. 

I can personally attest both judges are extraordinary legal scholars and bring significant professional skills to the bench.  But first and foremost, they are personally vested in our community and to our families.  When you need it most, they are there to help, and they have been there themselves.

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