The Marin County Bar Association is honored to announce that Judge Michael B. Dufficy (ret.) has been selected for its Lifetime Achievement Award. A gala to honor Judge Dufficy’s commitment and service to Marin County and its Bar, which has spanned over 52 years, will be held on Saturday, September 23, venue to be announced.

Distinguished Career

Michael Dufficy joined the Marin County Bar Association in 1964. He served as a Marin Deputy District Attorney in 1965 and 1966 and opened his private practice in San Rafael in January of 1967. In 1972, he was appointed by the Court to represent former Soledad Brother Fleeta Drumgo, who was charged with five counts of first-degree murder, conspiracy, and assault in a case commonly known as the San Quentin Six. The case dominated Judge Dufficy’s practice for the next four years, and after a jury trial that lasted 18 months, a verdict was rendered in August of 1976 that found his client not guilty on all charges. The case brought celebrity status and extensive publicity.

Judge Dufficy was a member of the MCBA’s Board of Directors for a number of years in the 1980’s, serving as its President in 1984. As a Certified Specialist in Criminal Law, he also founded its Criminal Law Section.

In 1990, Judge Dufficy was appointed to the Municipal Court by Governor Deukmejian, elevated to the Superior Court in 1992 by Governor Pete Wilson, and served on the Superior Court until 2010, when he retired with 20 years of judicial service. He was Presiding Judge of the Superior Court when that court merged with the Municipal Court. As Presiding Judge, and working with Municipal Court Presiding Judge Vernon Smith, they established the Vertical Felony Panel which revolutionized the procedure for felony cases. He was a leader in establishing the direct calendar system for civil case assignments, as is done in federal courts.

Following retirement in 2010, he joined Resolution Remedies as a mediator/arbitrator and is a member of its advisory board. He continued his service to MCBA as a Five-Year Past-President in 2011 and served a three-year term on its Board of Directors. In 2015, he began a three-year term on the Board of Directors of Alternative Defenders Inc., which provides conflict counsel to indigent criminal defendants in Marin County.

The Lifetime Achievement Award is a special award and is given upon the review and selection of a noted individual. Established in 2012, its first recipient was Judge Richard Breiner. Nominees are evaluated by the following criteria:

  • A distinguished career as a lawyer or jurist of at least 25 years;
  • A demonstrated commitment to community involvement, volunteerism, and/or other noteworthy achievements; and
  • A consistent and demonstrated involvement in the MCBA and the fulfillment of its Mission Statement.

The Board of Directors finds Judge Dufficy meets the criteria and exemplifies the type of Bar member worthy of the Lifetime Achievement Award.