SAN LUIS OBISPO 77 Deputy District Attorney Dodie Harman will soon trade in her prosecutor/s gear for a black robe and a seat on the San Luis Obispo County Superior Court bench.

Last Friday, Harman was appointed to the bench by Gov. Gray Davis. The veteran prosecutor will be sworn in May 6.

"I felt very blessed," Harman said about learning she was chosen to fill a newly created seat on the bench.

The new position was created by the state Legislature in January 2001 in response to a rapidly growing caseload for the 10 judges who now preside over the local courts.

Harman said the process of selecting and appointing a new judge requires at least a year because many different steps must be taken before a final interview in Sacramento is scheduled.

"You submit a personal data questionnaire that has about 60 questions to the governor/s office, along with letters of reference and recommendation," Harman said about the initial process. "It was a little over a year (before I was appointed)."

Before joining the San Luis Obispo County District Attorney/s Office in 1992, Harman served as a deputy district attorney in the Riverside District Attorney/s Office from 1984 to 1992.

She said she decided to make the switch from a seasoned prosecutor for a change of pace.

"I/ve been a district attorney for so long," Harman said about her decision to submit her name for judgeship. "I tried every kind of case that you can as a district attorney."

The felony prosecutor has tried more than 100 criminal jury trials during her career in the well in addition to numerous high-profile felony cases, including the trial where three local youths were convicted of torturing and murdering South County teenager Elyse Pahler.

Before passing the bar and becoming a lawyer, Harman, 45, worked as a paralegal for several business law firms between 1977 and 1984.

Harman will receive ,136,224 a year as the county/s newest judge.

* Staff writer April Charlton can be reached at (805) 489-4206, Ext. 5016, or by e-mail at acharlton@pulitzer.net.

April 28, 2002

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