1986 MCBA President: Verna Adams
Oct 01, 2015
In 1986, Ronald Reagan was President, George Deukmajian Governor, and we started observing Martin Luther King’s Birthday as a national holiday. The average cost of a home in Marin was $216,741.
I was the third woman chosen as president of the MCBA. My predecessors in that small club were my former partners and continuing mentors, Ann Diamond and Beverly Savitt. They set a great example for me to follow.
My induction ceremony was at the Meadow Club. It was an election year, so the dinner was very well attended. The Mayor of Fairfax, Johanna Willmann, offered welcoming remarks in which she observed, “There haven’t been this many suits in Fairfax since the last time the narcs came to town.”
Judge David Menary swore me in. He asked me to dance and I stepped on his toes; I have been trying not to step on a Judge’s toes ever since then.
A challenge and ongoing source of anxiety for every MCBA president is to have interesting speakers at the monthly meetings. My tenure was trouble-free in that respect, because Lynn Duryee graciously agreed to serve as program chair. Every monthly meeting was riveting (and well-attended). Lynn was a joy to work with and I am grateful for her efforts.
For years prior to 1986, MCBA’s Executive Director was Jeannette Stewart. She was well-liked by all and ran the little bar association office at 1010 B Street like a welloiled machine. Every incoming president’s nightmare was that Jeannette would retire during his/her term. Well, it happened to me. After endless rounds of interviews and much angst, we hired an interim director who “didn’t work out.” Then we managed to lure Lynn Pfeiffer from the County Clerk’s office. Whew! Lynn was a brilliant choice and the association hardly missed a beat. She served the MCBA with distinction for many years.
I was 40 years old that year, practicing family law in the little gray Victorian house at Fifth and Heatherton with Barbara Dornan. My husband, John Boudett, practiced on San Anselmo Avenue, and he still does. I drove a little red Alfa Romeo GTV; selling it is something I continue to regret.
Marin County did not have as many restaurants then as it does now, but everybody’s favorites were San Rafael Joe’s and the Chalet Basque. A few of us would regularly run into each other at the Royal Frankfurter, which was a hole in the wall on Fourth Street with the best hot dogs this side of Coney Island. I think Dick Barry ate there every day. Bar lunches were at El Greco Restaurant on Miracle Mile (it’s now a martial arts studio), California Café in Mill Valley (I think that building was razed about 15 years ago), or Peacock Gap. The MCBA Board of Directors’ meetings were often at the private dining room at Dominican College (now University).
We did not have a dedicated family law department in those days; every morning, the law and motion calendar was called in the Presiding Judge’s department and the files were dealt out to the other judges who had had no opportunity to read and admire the written pleadings on which we had worked so hard. One morning, Judge Broderick sent a divorce case of mine and also another family law matter to Judge McGuire for hearing. Then he assigned a civil case to the same department. Doug Maloney, County Counsel and attorney in the civil case, objected: “Your Honor, this is an important case. I don’t want it sandwiched between two divorce cases.”
Two years before I became president of the MCBA, the Marin Court’s glass ceiling was shattered by two female judges—Beverly Savitt on the Superior Court and Lynn Taylor on the Municipal Court. We had one Superior Court Commissioner, the late Noel Douglas Martin, who bore an astonishing resemblance to Orville Redenbacher.
We had six Superior Court Judges: Richard Breiner, Henry Broderick, Warren McGuire, David Menary, Peter Allen Smith, and Beverly Savitt. We also had a full-time, unpaid, volunteer trial judge, Louis Burke, a retired Justice of the California Supreme Court. Justice Burke lived out in Nicasio and after he left the Supreme Court, he apparently decided that he was not quite ready to quit judging. It was our great good fortune when he turned up at the courthouse with an offer to help out. Justice Burke’s “chambers” were in the modest space where the research attorneys presently are located. He served for several years and it was a privilege to appear in his court.
Although many things have changed in the past 28 years, one thing has not: the collegiality and mutual respect among the attorneys in the Marin County Bar Association. You are the best!