Until I married Sharon, I thought my boyhood dream of becoming a lawyer would never come true.  But, by working to put me through she made it possible for me to complete law school.

At Boalt Hall Dean Prosser asked me, “What kind of a lawyer do you want to be?" I answered, “I’d like to go into international law and civil rights, Dean.” He scoffed, “You won’t do either. Some other opportunity will come and you’ll take it.” Three years later I needed a job and the State needed lawyers to acquire property by eminent domain. In 1964 I became a lawyer for CalTrans. The Dean was right.

Condemnation trials came in quick succession. At night I taught real estate law at Merritt College. The Continuing Education of the Bar asked me to be a panelist in courses involving condemnation.

In 1968 Jim Cox, a master trial lawyer, gave me an offer. The firm became Cox, Cummins and Rinehart. Some of my trials there were Filice v. Village Development Company (where the Supreme Court of Nevada affirmed our victory), Federal Court trials involving the Woodside Overhead Power lines and land in Port Chicago, and a case in Hawaii for damages from a part-take of property used as a plant for Granny Goose potato chips.

In 1972 I decided to form my own office. I became special counsel to the City of Walnut Creek and other Contra Costa County agencies, trying cases for the acquisition of open space, street widening and other projects.  In 1976 my case for Meyer Plumbing Supply ended with a verdict against the Oakland Redevelopment Agency. On the west side of Broadway, part of an old Victorian building was rented to Rosalie Ritz, an artist whose drawings of famous trials were published nation-wide. Rosalie wanted to share her atelier with other artists. She so well restored her building that the City was inspired to complete the Victorian Row Project. I tried Rosalie's case for compensation for improvements and bonus value. That led to cases for owners in Oakland’s Chinatown for the same project. The Lee historic Ninth Street Market and the Wong fortune cookie factory became two of my most interesting cases.

 In 1977 I represented the Superior Strut and Hangar Company against the Port of Oakland. Were relocation benefits payable to a tenant whose move was caused by the public acquisition of the landlord's ownership by a negotiated purchase rather than by a condemnation action? The trial court ruled in our favor, the Court of Appeal agreed. Later, the Port of Oakland hired me as special counsel for eminent domain and relocation matters.

For my dog's skin problem I was referred to Dr. George Muller in Walnut Creek. He told me that his veterinary hospital was set for acquisition by CalTrans for the widening of the freeway. I had been on the State Bar Committee on Condemnation when it recommended the new Eminent Domain Law, including the allowance of compensation for loss of business goodwill. As I had tried goodwill cases involving gas stations in Marin and San Mateo Counties, I was ready to dive into Muller's case. With a favorable ruling by the trial court the jury awarded damages for loss of goodwill. The state's appeal ended with the California Supreme Court's landmark opinion in our favor at The People v. George H. Muller, 36 Cal.3d 263.

Other trials included a take by CalTrans of access rights from my client, the Walnut Creek Presbyterian Church; a "farm split" of my client's cherry orchard in Brentwood; my client's lot taken by El Dorado County for a road widening; the acquisition by Solano County of my client's private park; and a part take of my client's industrial property for the Richmond Parkway.

In addition to Walnut Creek, the Contra Costa and City of Oakland agencies my other condemnor clients included BART, East Bay Regional Parks and the Alameda County Water District. I tried the case for the latter two in their joint acquisition of a quarry in Fremont now known as the Quarry Lakes Recreation area. The owner was represented by Pete McCloskey, former US Congressman and outstanding trial lawyer.

I must stress the fact that more of my cases achieved favorable settlements than verdicts. A just settlement is the best result for both plaintiffs and defendants in Eminent Domain.

Like every experienced lawyer I've lost some cases. I was attorney for plaintiffs in Sierra Terreno v.Tahoe Regional Planning Agency, a regulatory taking claim for down zoning, and in Peter Kiewit v. Richmond Redevelopment Agency, a claim for relocation benefits. Compensation was not allowed.

I didn't go into International Law and Civil Rights, but the motivation behind that early wish remains today: Serve the public interest by serving my clients to the best of my ability.

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Gary Rinehart, Attorney & Pianist

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