November 27, 2021
Judicial Profiles

Gerald J. Buchwald, Superior Court Judge

Department Information:


Graduate of Northwestern University in Evanston and Chicago, Illinois (Law 1973; School of Speech 1970)

Appointment Date:

April 2005

Background, Assignments & Professional Associations:

Gerald J. Buchwald joined the Superior Court of San Mateo County on May 9, 2005. Appointed by Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger in April 2005, he was subsequently retained in that Office in the November 2006 election and then re-elected in November 2012.

For most of his Judicial service, Judge Buchwald has been a General Trial Department where he tries both criminal and civil cases, including jury and bench trials. His civil assignments have also included the law & motion calendar, complex civil cases assigned to him for all purposes, the case management calendar, and the settlement calendar. He has also handled criminal pre-trial calendars and preliminary hearings in felony cases, along with both felony and misdemeanor criminal trials.

Prior to joining the Bench, Judge Buchwald was in private civil trial practice for 33 years in the SF Bay Area, starting out at what became Bingham McCutchen (1974 - 1976), then with Severson & Werson (1976 - 1998), and later at Ropers, Majeski (1999 - April 2005). In law practice, he took both plaintiffs' and defendants' lawsuits. He handled commercial and business cases, construction litigation, professional and director/officer liability cases, and insurance coverage matters. His professional liability cases included those involving doctors, and other medical professionals, lawyers, architects and engineers, insurance brokers and agents, and others. Among other things, the acted as claims counsel for the Lloyd's of London Underwriters on lawyer liability, architect and engineer liability, and director/officer liability risks.

In addition to his legal experience, Judge Buchwald brings to the Court a long-time business background. From the time he was five years old until he went to law school, Judge Buchwald worked in the San Francisco bakery supply company then owned by his family that had been founded by his grandfather in 1913. He remains involved in two other local family businesses with operations in commercial real estate and agricultural cold storage. Judge Buchwald often spent summers working in the food processing plants and olallieberry fields in the Pajaro Valley in Santa Cruz County.

While in law practice, Judge Buchwald was active in a number of lawyer's professional organizations. Among them, the American Bar Association where he served in various committee officer posts having to do with professional liability, director/officer liability, and related insurance coverages. He remains a member of the ABA's Judicial Division.

Judge Buchwald is a graduate of Northwestern University in Evanston and Chicago, Illinois (Law 1973; School of Speech 1970). Born and raised in San Francisco, in a fourth generation San Francisco family, he attended public schools and graduated from Lowell High School (January 1966). Following law school, he served as Law Clerk to Chief Justice Donald R. Wright at the California Supreme Count (1973 - 1974).


Susan Irene Etezadi, Superior Court Judge

Department Information:
Department 18
Courtroom B
Phone: (650) 261-5118


University of San Diego School of Law, J.D. 1983
University of California, Davis, B.A. 1980

Appointment Date:

September 8, 2006


Judge, Superior Court of California, County of San Mateo, since September 8, 2006
Presiding Juvenile Court Judge: January 2019-Present
Presiding Judge, January 2017-December 2018
Assistant Presiding Judge, January 2015-2016
Civil Law and Motion Judge, July 2015-January 2016
Presiding Juvenile Court Judge, 2010-2014
Presiding Criminal Court Judge, 2009-2010
Family Court Judge, 2008-2009
General Criminal Court Judge, Misdemeanors, Pre-trials, Preliminary Hearings, 2006-2007
Deputy District Attorney, San Mateo County 1984-2006
University of San Diego School of Law, J.D. 1983
University of California, Davis, B.A. 1980
Presenter for the San Mateo County Bar Association, MCLE, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2014, 2015
Facilitator for the 2011 Supervising Judges Institute
Judicial Volunteer for High School Mock Trials (2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015)
Judicial Volunteer for Citizens' School (Mock Trial for Grade School Students) (2008, 2009, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015)
Judicial Volunteer for East Palo Alto Youth Court (2010, 2011)
Faculty Member-San Francisco Law School 2012-2013-Criminal Procedure Course
Faculty Member, College of San Mateo, 2002-2008, Fall 2012
    Principles and Procedures of the Criminal Justice System
    Laws of Evidence
San Mateo Legal Aid Society, Board Member (2004-2006)
California Women Lawyers, Board Member (2003-2005)
Member of the San Mateo County Bar Association, Women Lawyers' Section (2003-2006)
Instructor, National College of District Attorneys, Advocacy Center, University of South Carolina, Trial Advocacy Courses, 1990, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2005, 2006
Instructor, California District Attorneys Association, 1989-2003
Instructor for the San Mateo County Basic Dispatcher Academy, 2001, 2002, 2003
Instructor for the College of San Mateo Police Reserve Academy, 1999-2003
Instructor for the South Bay Regional Public Safety Training Consortium, 1995, 1997, 2002
Instructor for the San Mateo County Police Agencies on Domestic Violence Law and Investigations, 1987-1988
Insurance Fraud Technical Advisor, California District Attorneys Association 2002- 2003
California District Attorneys Association, Insurance Fraud Committee, 2001-2003
California District Attorneys Association, Insurance Fraud, Training sub-Committee, 2001-2003
California District Attorneys Association, Homicide-Special Circumstance Committee, 1997-2001


Nancy L. Fineman, Superior Court Judge

Department Information:
Department 4
Courtroom N
Phone: (650) 261-5104


A.B. in political science from University of California, Berkeley
J.D. from University of California, Berkeley Law

Appointment Date:

November 2, 2017

Current Assignment:

Single Assignment Civil Judge, CEQA Judge, Supervising Judge, Northern Branch

Previous Assignments:

Preliminary Hearing Judge, Trial Judge, Law and Motion

Background & Professional Associations:

Background & Professional Associations: Judge Fineman started her legal career at Sedgwick, Detert, Moran & Arnold, an insurance defense firm. She then spent the rest of her legal career at the law firm now known as Cotchett, Pitre & McCarthy, LLP. She is a frequent lecturer on legal matters. She serves on the Judicial Council Civil Law Curriculum Committee and the 2019 and 2020 Cow County Judge Institute Workgroup. She served as a trustee of the California State Bar, a member of the Judicial Nominees Evaluation Committee, a member of the San Mateo County Bar Association Board of Directors, The President and a member of the San Mateo County Women Lawyers' Educational Foundation as well as other state and local bar positions. She was also active in many community organizations and her sons' schools. She is a past President and current board member of the Alumni Association for Berkeley Law.


Robert D Foiles, Superior Court Judge

Department Information:
Department 21
Courtroom 2J
Phone: (650) 261-5121


J.D., University of San Francisco, 1984
B.S., University of California, Berkeley, 1981

Appointment Date:

February 25, 1997

Current Assignment:

Civil Direct Calendar Judge

Previous Assignments:

Presiding Judge 2013-2014; 2007-2008
Assistant Presiding Judge 2011-2012; 2005-2006
Supervising Judge of Family Law Division 2011-2012
Supervising Judge of Commissioners 2011-2012
Supervising Judge of Civil Division, A.D.R and Case Management 2004-2006
Supervising Judge of Criminal Division 2003
Civil Settlement Judge 2015-2018
Law & Motion Judge 2005
Criminal Presiding Judge 2000
Family Law Judge 1998-1999

Background & Professional Associations:

Board of Governors, American Business Trial Lawyers Association
Board of Directors, San Mateo Law Library
Judicial Council Court Facilities Advisory Committee


John L. "Jack" Grandsaert, Superior Court Judge

Department Information:
Department 11
Courtroom 2D
Phone: (650) 261-5111


B. S., University of San Francisco, 1974
J. D., Hastings College of the Law, 1977
LL. M., Golden Gate University, 1982

Appointment Date:

December 2, 2004 by Governor Schwarzenegger

Current Assignment:

Veterans Court Judge, Military Diversion Court Judge, Probate Judge

Previous Assignments:

Civil and Criminal Trial Judge (2004-2014)
Grand Jury Judge (2006-2007)
Criminal Presiding Judge (2007)
Law and Motion Judge (2009)
Bridges Program Judge (2010-2014)
Criminal Supervising Judge (2010-2014)
Veterans Treatment Court Judge (2012- )
Military Diversion Court Judge (2015- )
Presiding Judge (2015-2016)
Civil Case Management Judge (2018-2020)
Civil Settlement Judge (2018-2020)
Probate Judge (2021- )

Background & Professional Associations:

Associate, Hunt & Hunt, San Francisco, 1977 - 1984
Deputy District Attorney, Riverside County, 1984 - 1987
Special Assistant U.S. Attorney, 1985 - 1986
Deputy District Attorney, San Mateo County, 1987 - 2004
Judge Advocate General Corps, U. S. Army Reserve, 1984 - 1993
Co-Author, Chapter 55, Death Cases, CEB Criminal Law Procedure & Practice (1st Ed. Update & 2nd Ed.)
Reported cases handled as trial counsel:
People v. Jacobs (1987) 193 Cal.App. 3d 375;
People v. Johnson (1992) 5 Cal.App.4th 552;
People v. Ceja (1993) 4 Cal.4th 1134;
People v. Collins (1996) 45 Cal.App.4th 849;
People v. Cavitt (2004) 33 Cal. 4th 187


Susan L. Greenberg, Superior Court Judge

Department Information:
Department 3
Courtroom 2A
Phone: (650) 261-5103

Judge of the Superior Court

September 19, 2014 to present

Commissioner of the Superior Court

January 31, 2000 to September 18, 2014


Hastings College of the Law, J.D., 1984
Claremont Men's (McKenna) College, B.A., 1981

California Bar Admission:


Current Assignments:

Superior Court Judge
General Trial - January 2, 2019 to present
Supervising Family Law Judge - June 29, 2017 to present

Previous Assignments:

Law & Motion Judge - January 2, 2018 to December 31, 2018
Family Law Judge - September 19, 2014 to December 31, 2017

Commissioner and Judge Pro Tem:
Criminal Court (Parole Revocation Hearings), Family Court, Small Claims Court, Traffic Court 2013 to September 18, 2014
Family Court 2012 to 2013
Criminal Court (Misdemeanor Arraignments, Pre-Trials, Motions, Preliminary Hearings), Drug Court, Family Court, Small Claims Court, Traffic Court, Treatment Court, Unlawful Detainer Court, Lanterman-Petris-Short Act Court, Assignments from Master Calendar 2000 to 2012

Professional Work History:

Law Offices of Susan L. Greenberg, Sole Practitioner, 1991 to 2000
Law Offices of Philip H. Schecter, Associate Attorney, 1987 to 1991
San Mateo County Deputy District Attorney, 1984 to 1987

Present Activities

Kiwanis International, Past Lt. Governor, Past Club President

Previous Activities

California Court Commissioners Association, Member - Board of Directors
San Mateo County Bar Association, Member - Board of Directors and Secretary, Member - Women Lawyers Section
Judge Pro Tem, San Mateo County, Municipal Court and Superior Court
Faculty Member, Golden Gate University
Commencement Speaker, Golden Gate University
Attorney Coach, Mock Trial High School Teams, Westmoor and Sequoia High Schools
Service League of San Mateo County, Past President and Member, Board of Directors


Ernst A. Halperin, Superior Court Commissionier

Department Information:
Department 34
Courtroom P, Northern Branch
Phone: (650) 261-5134


J.D., University of Texas School of Law
M.S., Stanford University, Civil Engineering - Construction Management
B.S., Stanford University, Civil Engineering

Appointment Date:

February 10, 2020

Current Assignment:

Civil Direct Calendar Commissioner


1995 - 2014 Litigator practicing in the areas of complex commercial, trade secret, patent, insolvency, landlord-tenant, construction defect, and class action litigation.
1995 - 2007 Folger Levin & Kahn LLP (Associate 1995 - 2003, Partner 2003-2007).
2008 - 2014 Law Office of Ernst Halperin.
Volunteer Judge Pro Tem, San Francisco Superior Court conducting settlement conferences for the civil and unlawful detainer calendars (2007 - 2011) and hearing discovery motions (2012 - 2014).
2014 - 2020 Assistant District Attorney, White Collar Crime Division of the San Francisco District Attorney's Office litigating Unfair Competition Law and False Advertising Law civil enforcement actions and prosecuting criminal cases.

Reported cases handled as counsel in the Superior Court: The People ex rel. George Gascón, as District Attorney v. HomeAdvisor, Inc. (2020) 49 Cal.App.5th 1073

MATTHEW BENDER PRACTICE GUIDE: CALIFORNIA E-DISCOVERY AND EVIDENCE (LexisNexis 2009). Author of Chapter 9, "Gathering and Producing Electronically Stored Information." Update Author for the practice guide, 2009 - 2019.


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