M. Hyman 72 spent the early part of his career enforcing
the law as a member of the Santa Clara, Calif., Police Department.
Now, as a Superior Court judge, hes charged with interpreting
Hyman attended Cornell for two years and graduated from Claremont
Mens College in 1972. He earned his juris doctorate from the
University of Santa Clara Law School in 1977. He was in private
law practice from 1979 to 1990, specializing in personal injury
litigation, workers compensation law, and criminal law. He
served as a judge of the Municipal Court from 1990 to 1996, when
he was elected to the Superior Court of California for the County
of Santa Clara.
In April 1999, with the assistance of the Juvenile Probation Department,
Hyman started the Juvenile Delinquency Domestic and Family Violence
Center, which is thought to be the first in the nation dedicated
to this issue. More than 100 cases currently are assigned to the
Judge Hyman has been actively involved in domestic violence prevention
issues and has written extensively on the topic. Hes appeared
on Nightline and Good Morning America focusing
on both juvenile delinquency mental health issues and juvenile domestic
and family violence. He has lectured widely and taught at the University
of Santa Clara Law School for 13 years.
Judge Hyman received the Womens Fund (San Jose) Man
of the Year award in 1998 in recognition of his efforts in
domestic violence prevention. He received similar awards in 2000
The Case: Abbondanza
Judge Hyman presided over a civil case many years ago that involved
a wedding party (the defendants) and the owner of a wedding hall
The defendants were being sued for not paying heir bill after the
wedding. They owed the caterer several thousand dollars. The plaintiff
paid the balance because of the business rela ionship and was now
proceeding against the defendants for what was owed.
The plaintiff presented part of he wedding video to demonstrate
the guests were enjoying themselves and liked the food. This was
important evidence as the defendants said they hadnt paid
the bill for two reasons: the food didnt taste good and the
abbondanza, or abundance, of food was insufficient and
insulting to the host and guests.
The bride was the only daugher of an Italian immigrant. His wife
had died and he felt responsible for making sure the wedding went
well. He had advised all the potential caterers their food must
taste excellent and that there must be a sizeable amount of food.
He did not want his family to be embarrassed in any way.
During the trial, all the defense wittnesses testified regarding
how the father had told the caterer his requirements using a combination
of English and Italian. Abbondanza was mentioned by
every plaintiff witness as a requirement the father had made. By
the fifth or sixth time abbondanza was stated, the jury
began to snicker; they continued to laugh every time the word was
spoken and Judge Hyman struggled to keep a straight face during
After all the witnesses had testified but before he case was submited
to the jury, Judge Hyman attempted to settle the case. He knew all
he parties had been well-received and was cerain jury deliberations
would be difficult and lengthy.
After about two hours, Judge Hyman was able to convince the family
and hall owner to split the difference.
For several weeks thereafter, staff in he courthouse talked
about the abbondanza, said Judge Hyman. No
civil case has given me so much enjoyment.
The Case: Marilyn Ezzy, petitioner, v. Workers Compensation
Board, Gassett, Perry & Franks et al, respondents
Marilyn Ezzy was a second-year law student who worked as a law clerk
for the firm of Gassett, Perry & Frank. As an attorney, Hyman
represented her in her workers compensation claim.
Ezzy participated in an employer-sponsored softball team at the
urging of one of the firms partners, who was also the team
coach. She said there was pressure on female employees to participate
because of the leagues requirement that four women be on the
field at all times. A benefit to the firm came in he form of improved
office cooperation, spirit, morale, and camaraderie. The firm paid
for all equipment, T-shirts, post-game refreshments, and an awards
During a game on Aug. 15, 1980, Ezzy injured her finger as she
attempted to catch a fly ball.
Ezzy testified she believed her employer expected her to participate
in the softball team and consequently, felt she should be able to
recover workers compensation benefits. Code specifies workers
compensation benefits may not be recovered when an injury arises
from voluntary participation in athletic activities except when
those activities are either a reasonable expectancy of, or
are expressly or impliedly required by employment.
Hymans client lost the case at the trial level, but the appeals
court determined Ezzys injury resulted from participation
in an activity that was a reasonable expectancy of her
employment and she received compensation.