Back in 2005, the Weekly asked local community members to recite some of their favorite poems. Superior Court Judge Albert H. Maldonado said this of poetry back then: “You look at the poet and she or he is looking at human affairs. Every aspect of life, from birth to death, is covered in poetry.”
He proceeded to recite the poem "Trial by Existence" by Robert Frost.
An appropriate poem for a someone who's presided over many trials during his 22 years on the bench. Maldonado's last day was Tuesday, and his official retirement date will be June 30.
Maldonado has served as a Monterey County Superior Court judge since 2000, and was first appointed as a judge of the Municipal Court in Monterey County in 1995. He's spent most of his career presiding over criminal cases and served over 10 years on the appellate panel.
"My favorite assignment was the speciality courts," Maldonado said in a statement. For him, interactions with those who needed treatment or judicial intervention were the most fulfilling: "It's so rewarding when we witness first-hand how lives are positively impacted."
True to his roots, Maldonado plans on volunteering with Legal Services for Seniors—in Seaside, where he arrived in 1970 when he was assigned to Fort Ord before serving in the Vietnam War in 1971.
Maldonado plans to return to private practice in Seaside, as well as Los Angeles and Palm Springs.
Maldonado was also Monterey County's first Latino superior court judge.
“I became the first Latino judge in the history of Monterey County since statehood—some 150 years later," Maldonado said. "The last judge of Mexican descent in Monterey was Jose Joaquin De La Torre in 1836 during the Mexican era of California."
Rather than going to an election, this judicial vacancy will be filled by appointment by Gov. Jerry Brown. Brown's office has not responded to questions about a time frame for appointing a new judge, or who the governor is considering.