Today, Joseph D. Hughes will be sworn in as President of the Kern County Bar Association. Over the past 25 years, Joe has earned a reputation as one of the Central Valley’s respected water attorneys. He is frequently sought out by public agencies, agricultural growers, and some of our area’s most prominent landowners. He is a trusted advisor on matters pertaining to the State Water Project, the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act, and nearly every aspect of public agency governance.
While this tells us what Joe does, we are all still left wondering who is Joe Hughes?
After going through the “Hughes” version of a Public Records Act request and a fourteen-day extension period, minimal information was uncovered, most of it protected by some made up exemption. However, it was discovered that Joe was born in San Jose, California on March 18, 1968. Further, we learned that he grew up in Saratoga, California, a small town in the Bay Area. Probably by accident, Joe included a document containing his driving reason for attending law school.
Joe’s grandmother was an influential figure in his life. She spent countless years encouraging him to pursue law, however, it wasn’t until his freshman year of college at the University of California, Santa Barbara that Joe finally decided to attend law school. His grandmother had obtained a college and master’s degree and had always considered a law degree but was never able to do so. So, Joe decided to take on that next step for her and apply to the Santa Clara School of Law.
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After this story, Joe, acting as “Ron Swanson,” failed to provide any further information helpful to telling his story. So, we had to do a little investigative reporting. In doing so, we uncovered the following stories:
Joe went on to attend the Santa Clara School of Law in the Fall of 1990.
As it goes, your typical law student can be found studying the rule against perpetuities for real property class, drafting a legal argument for moot court, or reviewing citations for journal. Well, it wouldn’t be a stretch to say that Joe was not your “typical law student.” Instead, Joe could be found with his buddies practicing their swing at the local golf course. Do you know what time civil procedure was scheduled? Joe did. Tee time. Which do you think he went to?
According to John Komar, Joe’s old law school friend, Joe and their group of buddies were regular celebrities on the golf course. . . and by celebrities, picture a Friday Night WWE Special with Hulk Hogan and Macho Man Randy Savage. You see, Joe and his friends held certain feelings for slow golfers for reasons that remain unclear. It could be as simple as, they were impatient, or maybe it was if they didn’t get done with this hole in time, they would check off their fourth and final absence in contracts class. According to John, when time began to crunch, the group would get a little testy, firing off warning shots from the tee box and occasionally exchanging a little more than words. It was here that Joe would put on his referee shirt and practice techniques from his mediation and negotiations classes.
When Joe wasn’t practicing his short game, it is rumored that he actually studied for school, or at least finals. These rumors must hold some truth, because in the Spring 1993, Joe graduated from the Santa Clara School of Law.
In 1994, Joe began a short but meaningful stint as Deputy County Counsel for the County of Kern. Here, Joe held the coveted position of Small Claims Advisor. Joe, for nearly half of the day, would sit at the Small Claims window and help local residents navigate through the winding maze that is the legal system. While his time with the county only lasted six months, he describes it as one of his best working experiences, highlighting the opportunity to help people with their everyday legal issues.
Shortly after, in 1995, Joe began working at Kuhs, Parker & Stanton, where he immediately began trying the patience of Bill Kuhs, Jim Parker and Dave Stanton. We all owe those three a debt of gratitude for setting Joe straight countless times.
After eleven years and accomplishing several milestones, Joe made the jump to Klein DeNatale Goldner. Over the past fourteen years, Joe has become the source of a light-hearted warning that is told in secret among law clerks:
“There are two doors you never knock on: (1) Barry Goldner’s and (2) Joe Hughes’! But if you do find yourself knocking on the door of Mr. Hughes: Knocker Beware of the Hughes Glare!”
One law clerk learned the hard way. Assigned to Joe for the duration of his clerkship, this law clerk wandered into Joe’s office while Joe was “in the zone.” Or maybe Joe was re-living in his mind his glory days on the golf course. Joe initiated the glare. The law clerk then asked whether Joe had any assignments for him. Joe’s glare intensified. The room became uncomfortably silent. After what must have been hours to the law clerk, he finally regained control over his legs and exited the office. It was moments later that a first-year associate gave that law clerk a piece of advice that he would never forget. Today, Joe and that same clerk laugh about that day . . . but that law clerk now makes sure to set up an appointment, send an e-mail, a fax, and three text messages before entering Joe’s office.
When Joe isn’t welcoming law clerks to Klein DeNatale Goldner, he enjoys spending time with his family. Joe met his wife Sandy in college. Joe likes to joke that Sandy waited for him to graduate from college and law school, pass the Bar, and find a job before she would go out with him. Typical for Joe, he doesn’t notice that Sandy never laughs when he tells the story and instead simply nods her head. Joe enjoys hiking in the mountains with their daughter, Mallory, and Scouting trips with their son, Colby. Just this year, Joe and Sandy found a new hobby: whitewater rafting down the Kern River. The two really enjoy the excitement, and most of all, the teamwork needed to be successful traveling down the river. The Hughes family is always looking for the next adventure—although Sandy says it will never again be in a raft on the Kern River.
Joe is excited to serve as President of the Kern County Bar Association. He looks forward to promoting KCBA and its commitment to our county’s legal community. Further, Joe is eager to welcome newly barred attorneys and help them learn and grow alongside our community’s legal leaders.