Professional Panel - Hon. Jeanne Martin Buckley (Ret.)
Only after much cajoling does the very modest Jeanne Buckley admit that, in her youth, she worked as an actor in TV shows, most notably “Peyton Place,” a romance drama which older readers will know as the hottest television series of the day. Buckley brings the same low-key modesty to her later, more serious endeavors as a hard-working attorney specializing in family law and, years later, as an empathetic Juvenile Court judge in Sonoma County.
Her first major in college was sociology – she modeled her Little Rock, Arkansas mother who was a social worker – and Buckley became active in South Central Los Angeles with the local Head Start program working with disenfranchised youth. Passion for social justice and racial equality runs deep in her family, stemming directly from the tragic murder of her great-grandfather, who in 1901 as a 35-year old owner of a mercantile store in the South was killed because he was operating a free ferry service, an act of kindness which infuriated a white-owned competitor who charged for his boat. The murderer was not convicted.
“I am deeply sympathetic about people’s plights,” says Buckley. “Especially in family disputes, I try to help them understand that, even after a dispute is resolved, it’s important that familial relationships endure. Life goes on, so it’s crucial that they tend to the wounds and nurture the bonds. “
A trustee at Pomona College in Claremont, California, Buckley is married to husband Edmund, himself a teacher and administrator at Santa Rosa Junior College and an accomplished drummer. Their three adult sons live on the East Coast – one is a composer, another is in public television, and the third is a counselor at an elementary school.
Her successful motherhood and her longtime work resolving family conflict qualify Buckley as an astute mediator, a sharp-eyed observer of the human condition, and an expert listener who is committed to understanding and empathizing with clients who find themselves in vexing dispute situations.
ON THE BENCH
Well known for her compassion and tenacity, Commissioner Jeanne Martin Buckley served as the sole settlement judge for all long cause family law cases in Sonoma County for 14 years. Since her retirement, she has been actively engaged in ADR, achieving a near perfect settlement rate.
Commissioner Buckley has extensive expertise in all aspects of family law matters, including probate, will contests, and guardianships. Additionally, she has successfully handled matters involving personal injury, harassment, molestation, domestic violence, business contract disputes, partnership dissolution, real estate, landlord/tenant and medical malpractice.
Commissioner Buckley’s highly developed people skills, combined with her intelligence, resourcefulness, dedication and perseverance greatly contribute to her success in the ADR field. She is very intuitive and demonstrates a calm demeanor in her dealings with the litigants and their problems, allowing her to recognize underlying issues and deal with hidden agendas.
Prior to her appointment to the bench, Commissioner Buckley was in private practice specializing in family law. During that time, she served as Staff Attorney with the Family Service Agency Legal Services Program, Sonoma County, from 1981-1984. In addition, she was an Instructor at the SRJC Criminal Justice Training Center and served as Deputy District Attorney, Sonoma County District Attorney Family Support Division. She also worked in the Sonoma County Counsel’s Office from 1982 to 1983.
MEMBERSHIPS and SPECIAL HONORS
J.D., Empire College of Law, 1979
B.A., Pomona College, 1965