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Santa Maria Sun / News

The following article was posted on March 13th, 2013, in the Santa Maria Sun - Volume 14, Issue 1 [ Submit a Story ]
The following articles were printed from Santa Maria Sun [] - Volume 14, Issue 1

Respected Santa Maria judge Edward Bullard dies


Santa Barbara County Superior Court Judge Edward Bullard—arguably the anchor of the Santa Maria criminal court division—died suddenly on March 10 of complications from heart surgery. He was 59 years old.

Santa Barbara County Superior Court Judge Edward Bullard died unexpectedly on March 10 due to complications from heart surgery.

Superior court executive officer Gary Blair said Bullard suffered a heart attack earlier this month, but was expected to make a full recovery. He said Bullard’s passing leaves a considerable void in the Santa Maria court system.

“He tried more back-to-back felony cases than anyone else—most of the major gang trials and murder trials,” Blair told the Sun.

In addition to his massive caseload as a jurist, Bullard was also known for his sense of humor and gentlemanly demeanor.

“Outside of the courtroom, you really would never know he was a judge because he was so down to earth,” Blair said. “He was friendly to everyone.”

Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger appointed Bullard to the bench in 2006. He was elected to a six-year term beginning in January 2009. Prior to that, Bullard worked as a deputy district attorney with the Santa Barbara County District Attorney’s Office from 1989 to 2006 and as a public defender with Ventura County from 1988 to ’89. He also served as a California Highway Patrol Officer from 1977 to 1988.

Santa Barbara County District Attorney Joyce Dudley called Bullard, her colleague and friend of 23 years, a caring team player. They worked together as deputy district attorneys, and even though they were based out of different offices, Dudley said, “You knew if you needed anything, he would help in any way he could.”

She said Bullard took those qualities with him to the bench.

“The comments from my lawyers were always about how responsible he was, that he was a real people person, that he worked very hard … and he was a gentleman,” she said. “Those are all the attributes that you want in a jurist.

 “He made decisions based on facts and the law and sound legal research. He didn’t always rule in favor of the DA, even though that’s where he came from,” she added.

As an example of Bullard’s character, Dudley recalled a time several years ago when she asked the judge to move the Lee Leeds case forward in his calendar. Leeds shot and killed four people, including his father, in a Santa Maria salvage yard in 2008.

 “The case had been continued 18 months out and I asked him to move it up because I felt that was what the people deserved,” she said. “And he moved it forward even though it was a great inconvenience to him personally.”

Bullard is survived by his wife, Sandy, and his stepdaughter, Cindy.

Executive officer Blair said the county’s judges will divide Bullard’s caseload among themselves until the judicial council assigns a retired judge to fill in temporarily. After that, the governor will appoint a permanent replacement, but Blair said that could take anywhere from 12 to 15 months.

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