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 Richard Breiner had his doubts about that aphorism. On a crystal-clear Marin day, he joined a group of friends for mountain biking on the slopes of Mt. Tamalpais. Capping a long and distinguished legal career, Breiner had mounted a rigorous physical regimen that had made him feel like a young man 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 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 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 57 years, Dottie Breiner (herself a renowned former San Rafael councilmember and politico), Judge Breiner has defied dire predictions from his doctors and become one of our most admired panelists. His wisdom, integrity, thoroughness, knowledge of the law, commitment to fairness, great people skills, and extraordinary sense of humor have provided the legal community with a much needed resource.
Judge Breiner has enjoyed serving on all types of ADR assignments, and has expertise in personal injury, business litigation, probate, construction, family law, and land use and zoning matters. He 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. The Chief Justice of that Court appointed Judge Breiner to the Appellate Dept., where he served for eleven years between 1978 and 1996. He 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 in 1992 until 1995, Judge Breiner served as Supervising Civil Fast Track Judge of the Superior Court.