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Judge Gary Hoff Is Retiring After Distinguished Career

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After nearly 28 years on the Fresno County Superior Court bench, Gary Hoff is retiring. (GV Wire/Jahz Tello)
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Gary Hoff planned to step down from the Fresno County Superior Court bench sometime next year. He was close to serving 28 years doling out justice.

Health problems accelerated that decision.

“I was looking forward to sitting on assignment as a retired judge, traveling, volunteering my time in worthwhile organizations that are special to me, and the usual endeavors the retirees do when their career is done,” Hoff said.

“Despite being vaccinated, I did get the COVID virus in mid-October and subsequent medical (tests) revealed I have cancer. I decided to advance my retirement plans to concentrate on my immediate priorities: health, family, and faith,” Hoff said.

Hoff is in the process of filing his official retirement paperwork, expecting that to happen by the end of the month.

As a Judge, He Strived to Help Youth

That community service is among his retirement plans isn’t surprising.

One of his first assignments presiding over the juvenile court.

“When I saw kids in juvenile court, it wasn’t their first offense, it wasn’t their first-time felony,” Hoff told KSEE-24 two years ago.

So, Hoff started a “youth court” to hold young people accountable for minor offenses. Early intervention, Hoff said, would help young offenders before they turned to serious crime.

There are now youth courts at high schools throughout Fresno County. The judges who preside over the hearings are volunteers.

Hoff Reflects Upon Career

Hoff said he’s “not sure I can pinpoint a singular case” as his most memorable.

“As a prosecutor, I had many high profile homicide cases and successfully prosecuted the first spousal rape jury trial in Fresno County. As a judge, I have presided over many high-profile, complex criminal trials involving everything from violent crimes, robberies, child sexual assault, rapes, gang-related crimes, and homicides.  Each is unique and somewhat memorable,” Hoff said.

“I mostly recall the emotions and  human drama and trauma and dynamics involved in cases and its effects on all participants in the proceedings: victims, witnesses, defendants,  families of the victims and defendants, lawyers, court staff, and even me.”

Prefers Gubernatorial Judicial Appointments Over Elections

Hoff is not up for re-election until 2024. Leaving the bench early allows Gov. Gavin Newsom to appoint his successor.

“Quite frankly, the public doesn’t necessarily understand the qualities and attributes of being a fair, neutral, decisive judicial officer.  A political campaign among several judicial candidates, in my opinion, is generally not informative enough to the general public to select the best-qualified person; rather it often dissolves into a popularity contest fueled by political donations.” — Judge Gary Hoff

Even though he is a Republican, and the governor is a Democrat, Hoff prefers an appointment to fill his vacancy, rather than an election.

“I am not a big fan of contested judicial elections. I have faith in our Governors and the Judicial Appointments Secretaries to vet and select the most qualified individuals to represent the judiciary, and the many candidates that are considered will be a representation of all the diverse people, cultures, and values that are important,” Hoff said.

“Quite frankly, the public doesn’t necessarily understand the qualities and attributes of being a fair, neutral, decisive judicial officer.  A political campaign among several judicial candidates, in my opinion, is generally not informative enough to the general public to select the best-qualified person; rather it often dissolves into a popularity contest fueled by political donations,” Hoff said.

Hoff has a list of names of “lawyers who I admire” he will pass on to the governor’s office. He is keeping those names private.

With Hoff leaving, that leaves three vacancies in Fresno County, which has 45 judges when at full strength. Last month, Judge Denise Whitehead retired. There is also an open position created by Judge Jane Cardoza’s retirement in 2020.

Appointed by Wilson

Hoff, 73, was appointed to the bench in 1994 by then-Gov. Pete Wilson. He previously served as a prosecutor in the Fresno County District Attorney’s Office.

He earned his undergrad degree at what is now Cal State Northridge and his law degree at the San Fernando Valley College of Law (since merged with the University of West Los Angeles).

Curiosity drives David Taub. The award-winning journalist might be shy, but feels mighty with a recorder in his hand. He doesn't see it his job to "hold public officials accountable," but does see it to provide readers (and voters) the information needed to make intelligent choices. Taub has been honored with several writing awards from the California News Publishers Association. He's just happy to have his stories read. Joining GV Wire in 2016, Taub covers politics, government and elections, mainly in the Fresno/Clovis area. He also writes columns about local eateries (Appetite for Fresno), pro wrestling (Off the Bottom Rope), and media (Media Man). Prior to joining the online news source, Taub worked as a radio producer for KMJ and PowerTalk 96.7 in Fresno. He also worked as an assignment editor for KCOY-TV in Santa Maria, California, and KSEE-TV in Fresno. He has also worked behind the scenes for several sports broadcasts, including the NCAA basketball tournament, and the Super Bowl. When not spending time with his family, Taub loves to officially score Fresno Grizzlies games. Growing up in the San Francisco Bay Area, Taub is a die-hard Giants and 49ers fan. He graduated from the University of Michigan with dual degrees in communications and political science. Go Blue! You can contact David at 559-492-4037 or at Send an Email

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