By Rhashad R. Pittman
The stories are endless. He could write books about them.
There was the Stockton man who gunned down his wife in a shopping center in broad daylight. There was the reputed Norteño gang member who was convicted of killing a man on Christmas Eve and suspected in three other murders. There was the Stockton man who raped and tortured his girlfriend over a three-day period.
During his16 year-career as a prosecutor in San Joaquin County, Mike Mulvihill has handled some of the county’s most violent and high profile cases. And he’s successfully convicted all of them. Throughout his years as a deputy district attorney, Mulvihill has never lost a felony case.
Not only has he never lost a felony case, the 41-year-old has never had a conviction overturned for misconduct of any kind. Mulvihill attributes his successful record to his work ethic, attention to detail, and adherence to the law.
“I don’t only work hard I’m an honest person,” Mulvihill said. “As an attorney, all you have is your reputation.”
After having accumulated a successful prosecutorial record, Mulvihill is running for San Joaquin County Superior Court Judge. He is hoping to fill a vacancy that will be left by Judge Terrence Van Oss, who is retiring at the end of the year after more than two decades on the bench.
“I just knew it was something I had to do,” Mulvihill said. “I’m not doing this just for a paycheck…or just to hear people call me judge. I’m doing this so we can continue the tradition of having a bench that is ethical and a bench with integrity.”
Mulvihill said he will take an objective approach in each case and follow the rules of the law, just as he has done throughout his career as a prosecutor. He may know as early as June if voters select him as the next superior court judge. If elected, Mulvihill will begin a six-year term that starts in January 2015 and runs through year 2020.
He has been endorsed by the Stockton, Manteca, Tracy, Lodi, and Ripon police officers associations as well as the San Joaquin County Deputy Sheriff’s Association and San Joaquin County District Attorney Investigators Association. The current county district attorney, James P. Willett, and county supervisors Carlos Villapudua, Larry Ruhstaller, and Ken Vogel have also pledged their support.
As a judge, Mulvihill said he would model himself after the judges he respected the most, judges who were fair, well-versed in that particular area of the law, and took the time to explain their rulings and how they were based on the law.
He would also hold attorneys accountable when it came to being prepared for court to avoid numerous continuances, which often delay trials. Mulvihill noted that his last three convictions occurred within one year of the defendant being arrested.
“There should never be a rush to judgment, but trials should be efficient,” he said.
Raised in Stockton with his three younger siblings since the age of three, Mulvihill graduated from St. Mary’s High School and attended University of San Diego for his bachelor’s degree.
While attending Gonzaga University School of Law, he worked for a local county judge as a judicial extern. Upon his return to Stockton during winter and summer breaks, he was an intern for the San Joaquin County District Attorney’s Office, assisting in domestic violence cases.
After finishing law school, Mulvihill was hired as a deputy district attorney for San Joaquin County and assigned to the Domestic Violence Unit. Within a year he became the unit’s lead felony prosecutor and later obtained one of the first convictions for spousal rape in the county.
A few years later he was promoted to the Gang Prosecution Unit where he handled violent gang crimes, including murders. He went on to serve as supervising deputy district attorney for the Family Crimes Unit, where he oversaw seven prosecutors, and head of the Felony Trial Unit, overseeing 19 prosecutors in the office’s largest unit.
In the midst of supervising various units, Mulvihill has continued to handle trial cases himself.
“What we see on a daily basis is an ugly side of humanity,” Mulvihill said. “But we also see over the years people turn their lives around.”
Throughout his years in a courtroom, Mulvihill has prosecuted a number of violent crimes, including torture, rape, and homicide cases, many of which have received a large amount of news coverage. Some of those cases include the convictions of Brian David Paynne, who received 50 years to life in prison for shooting to death his wife in the Park West Place shopping center; Tony Audencio Ramirez, a Norteño gang member who received 104 years in prison after being convicted of a 2005 murder; and Kenneth Martinez, who brutally beat his wife with a crowbar and wrench and raped her repeatedly, eventually getting 54 years to life in prison.
Preventing such violent crimes and protecting the community from them has fueled Mulvihill his entire career. He has spoken at numerous schools about the dangers of gangs and breaking the cycle of violence. He also has made cyber bullying presentations throughout the county.
“I have a real love for the law,” Mulvihill said. “I think in life you have a duty to do what you’re passionate about, especially if it’s serving the community.”