Prosecutor Unseats Santa Clara County Judge Ritchie

Santa Clara County Judge Diane Ritchie lost her seat to prosecutor Matthew Harris, who pulled ahead with 54.12 percent of the votes.

This year marked the first time in 16 years a local superior court judge faced a re-election challenger. Ritchie's incompetence apparently trumped any advantage of her incumbency.

Ritchie, elected in 2008 to the open judicial seat, had tough time defending her reputation and stopped campaigning altogether more than a month before election day. In February, the Mercury News ran a story about the difficulties she was having performing her duties (in an interview with San Jose Inside, she called judgeship "a super-hard job for everyone"). The Merc's report prompted two attorneys to file for candidacy: Harris and defense attorney Annrae Angel.

Ritchie trailed Harris by 4 percentage points in the primary, but edged out Angel.

Leading up to the general election, she came under even more fire, failing to earn any notable endorsements—nothing from law enforcement and nothing from labor, even though she used to be a labor lawyer.

Harris is a 23-year veteran of the District Attorney's office, who's overseen everything from low-level misdemeanors to homicide cases. He's also worked in the U.S. Attorney's office. Here's a link to his bio.

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  1. The fact that Diane Ritchie could garner 46% of the vote shows how ill informed the voting public is. Leland Yee got 80,000 votes in June, despite having been arrested and expelled from the State Senate. Kinda makes one believe that there should be test to be able to vote.

  2. I saw Diane Ritchie when I had to show up for jury duty, and she was the judge in the courtroom (astoundingly I did not get picked). Can’t speak to her qualifications, but she was a sweet lady. Very polite and empathetic, which is not the case with all judges. Did not seem like the type who would work hand in glove with the prosecutor and railroad all defendants to conviction. She probably made some poor judgement that got her into this situation. I hope she didn’t take the election personally.

    • When they asked if you had a bias, hopefully you disclosed that you do not like prosecutors and tend to like defendants. Or that without knowing the facts of the case or hearing any evidence, you are apprehensive a defendant may get railroaded and that a prosecutor may try to railroad him unjustly.

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