Professional Panel - Judge Richard H. Breiner (Ret.)
It’s been said that the Almighty doesn’t give us burdens we can’t handle. In 1995, Judge Breiner had his doubts about that aphorism. On a crystal-clear Marin day, Breiner joined a group of friends for mountain biking on the slopes of Mt. Tamalpais. Capping a long and distinguished legal career as both attorney and judge, Breiner had mounted a personal and rigorous physical regimen that had made him feel like a man in his 20’s again. Bike riding had become his addiction of choice. On this day, splashed with sunshine and great friends, a massive stroke flung him off his mountain bike and into a journey which for the next 15 years would reshape his character, deepen his faith, and reinvigorate his desire to serve those less fortunate than himself.
“We never know how much strength we have,” says Breiner, largely confined to a wheelchair since that fateful day, “until we are tested". After suffering through weeks of shock, denial, confusion, depression, and despair, I came to a decision to rise above my plight, save myself through determination and prayer, and to accept my fate.”
With the help of countless friends and family and the unflagging devotion of his wife of nearly 50 years, Dottie Breiner (herself a widely revered former San Rafael councilmember and politico), Breiner has defied dire predictions from his doctors and has rededicated his life to becoming one of our most effective mediation panelists.
Achieving a 95% success rate, Breiner brings to the negotiating table a deep-rooted sense of justice, an ironclad desire to help those on the verge of legal and financial despair, a rich sense of humor which defies his physical malady, and an unconditional spirit of compassion which serves as a beacon of optimism and light for vexing legal disputes seemingly lost forever in a Gordian Knot of chaos.
Judge Dick Breiner is a very good man whose brush with mortality has enhanced his life and cast a wide circumference of hope to those seeking resolution of their problems.
ON THE BENCH
Judge Breiner has always been an advocate of ADR and was instrumental in the development of Marin County's successful Early Mediation Program. A large percentage of his time was devoted to successfully conducting settlement conferences. Judge Breiner was appointed to the Marin County Superior Court in 1977 and served as that Court's Presiding Judge in 1980, 1981, 1985, 1987, 1988, and 1993. Judge Breiner was appointed to the Appellate Dept. of that Court by the Chief Justice for eleven years from 1978 through 1996, and was Presiding Judge of the Appellate Department in 1982 and 1984. In 1983, Judge Breiner sat on the Court of Appeal in San Francisco and on the California Supreme Court as pro tem justice by assignment of the Chief Justice. Since its inception, from 1992 until 1995, he served as Supervising Civil Fast Track Judge of the Superior Court.