SF Supreme Court Judge Jerome Benson to retire Jan. 20

San Francisco Superior Court Judge Jerome Benson announced Tuesday he will retire on Jan. 20 after 22 years on the bench.

Benson, 72, a former prosecutor, spent much of his judicial career presiding over criminal trials.

He was initially appointed to San Francisco Superior Court by Gov. George Deukmejian in January 1990. But after six months in office, he was defeated in an election for the post in June 1990 by Donna Hitchens, who became the nation's first elected openly lesbian judge.

Deukmejian then tapped Benson a second time in December 1990, this time appointing him to San Francisco Municipal Court. When the municipal and superior courts merged in 1998, Benson became a Superior Court judge again.

Benson said in a statement, “I leave my judicial office knowing that San Francisco enjoys an excellent trial court bench with strong and experienced judges.”

Presiding Judge Katherine Feinstein said, “Judge Benson has been a reliable mainstay at the Hall of Justice. I will miss his leadership and his stature among his peers, and the confidence he inspired in others as he dispensed justice at the Hall.”

Benson graduated from Stanford University Law School in 1964 and then worked for three years as a law clerk to several judges.

He joined the San Francisco District Attorney's Office in 1967, rising to become chief of the agency's criminal division during the last seven years before he was appointed to the bench.

The San Francisco Superior Court is made up of 52 judges. Upon Benson's retirement next month, the court will have three vacancies, which can be filled by Gov. Jerry Brown.

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