Former Superior Court Judge Robert C. Bradley has joined a prominent Thousand Oaks law firm, rebounding from a struggle with alcoholism that ended his judicial career.
Bradley, 59, was disqualified from the bench last year after two drunk-riving arrests landed him in jail. He went on to violate the terms of his probation four times in subsequent months and did not seek reelection last fall.
But his interest in returning to the courtroom, as either a lawyer or temporary judge, has been well known in the legal community.
The partners at Cohen, Alexander & Clayton decided to give him a chance.
"We are aware of the past problem and are convinced it is long past," said attorney Leonard Alexander. "I think he is an outstanding legal talent and he has got enormous experience. He is going to be a great addition to the firm and a benefit to our clients."
Cohen, Alexander & Clayton specializes in estate planning, business and family law. Bradley will become the sixth lawyer at the longtime firm, which is best known for its land-use litigation on behalf of developers.
Alexander declined to say what Bradley will earn. Starting today, the former judge will begin handling general civil and business litigation.
And he couldn't be more thrilled.
"I'm excited, I'm excited," Bradley said Wednesday. "They have an excellent reputation. I hope to make the most of it."
Bradley said he was grateful that the firm opened its doors to him after the series of arrests that left his reputation in a shambles. Bradley served two jail sentences, and at one point he was barred from the courthouse after showing up to work intoxicated.
Now, Bradley said, his No. 1 priority is maintaining his sobriety and regularly attending the Alcoholics Anonymous meetings that he credits for helping him get his life back on track.
"It has been a difficult experience," he said. "And it's nice to see that there is that support. I am just really pleased to have this opportunity."
Superior Court Judge David W. Long, who took over Bradley's courtroom and now supervises the civil law calendar, said Bradley will be welcomed back. Long said Bradley seems to be recovering "and hopefully conquering" his alcoholism.
"Good for him," Long said. "He is as welcome as any other lawyer in my courtroom. And I look forward to seeing him."
Bradley's only employment since leaving the bench 18 months ago was a temporary position as a project estimator for a Ventura contractor. He earned $8 an hour.
Bradley started his legal career 30 years ago as a county prosecutor, but left the district attorney's office for several years to work as a civil attorney. He later returned to the D.A.'s office and was appointed to bench from there. He served as municipal judge before appointed to the Superior Court in 1984.
A jurist for nearly 16 years, Bradley presided over criminal, civil and family law cases. But he has not stepped foot in a county courtroom for some time and is uncertain how he will feel going back.
"It is going to be an interesting experience to be on the other side of the bench," he said.