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April 2001

Alternative to Kamena Emerges

If Kamena Recalled Van Zandt Becomes Marin DA

By Louis Nuyens

In any recall election, one key question is, "What is the alternative?"

With just a day before the deadline, that question was answered regarding the recall election of Marin District Attorney Paula Kamena, as Mill Valley attorney Tom Van Zandt filed for the position.

Van Zandt says that his desire to serve began through the experiences of his sister, Carol Mardeusz, in which Van Zandt found Marin's legal system to be sorely wanting. Although Mardeusz's case is essentially over, Van Zandt says that his sister's tribulations opened his eyes to onerous deficiencies in many other areas of the Marin legal system, not least in the office of the District Attorney.

Van Zandt currently works as a patent attorney for a Santa Clara firm. However, he is also knowledgeable of criminal law and familiar with the Marin County legal system.

Van Zandt spent approximately ten years representing labor in mediation and arbitration hearings; many of these situations closely resembled criminal proceedings in complexity and point of law. This work led to Van Zandt's pursuit of a law degree, with an emphasis on criminal law. He received his Juris Doctorate, with honors, from McGeorge School of Law, which is State Attorney General Bill Lockyer's alma mater and accredited by the American Bar Association.

When Van Zandt opened his practice, it was in criminal law, handling overflow cases from the Marin County Public Defender's Office.

Van Zandt was subsequently attracted to the detailed field of patent law. This work required an engineering degree, which Van Zandt already had, and appealed to his passion for science and invention. It was also more financially lucrative, and therefore attractive to him in his roles as father of four and husband.

Van Zandt says his interest is in ensuring improvements, so that Marin's communities can expect even-handedness and trustworthiness in its courts and government, and greater responsiveness.

Highlights of Van Zandt's Background:

Member of the California State Bar, Licensed to practice before the California Supreme Court

Areas of Practice: Criminal Defense, Patent Law, Wills and Trusts, Estate Planning

Honors Graduate, Juris Doctorate from McGeorge School of Law (Accredited by the American Bar Association)

Two-time recipient of the American Jurisprudence Award for Legal Academic Excellence

Experience handling overflow criminal defense cases from the Marin County Public Defender's Office

Ten years experience as labor representative in Labor-Management mediation, arbitration, and contract negotiation:

As mediator and negotiator, handled many cases that would have been criminal cases (and were equally detailed in terms of point of law) had they not been handled in-house; this led to his law degree and subsequent criminal defense practice.

As labor contract negotiator, successfully negotiated (and subsequently implemented) contract with the Air Force for his 'local' that included many elements of the Family Leave Act before it was law.

United States Army, Active Duty

United States Army Reserve

United States Air Force Reserve

Honorable Discharge from both Branches

Honors Graduate, Bachelor of Science in Electrical and Electronics Engineering

Research Engineer for the United States Air Force

Recipient of Vice President, Al Gore's "Hammer" award for efficiency innovations improving Government.

Wife works for the Sonoma County Public Defender's Office and has been involved with the Marin County Juvenile Justice Commission.

 

 

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