Almost a decade ago, I did a column about a 16-year-old boy who stabbed to death an older brother who taunted him. I called Deputy DA Kurt Kumli, who explained that the case met the requirements for a murder charge. "But really, putting a human face on it, it's just a tragedy," he said.
In a nutshell, that's what Kurt Kumli did as a prosecutor and a judge in Santa Clara County: He put a human face on even the toughest cases.
When he died Monday night of brain cancer at the age of 52, his friends in the Santa Clara County judicial system took it as tragedy. The word they used to describe him was charismatic.
"When you talked to him, he made you feel like you were the only person in the room," said his friend, deputy public defender Gary Goodman. "If he sentenced someone to a long sentence, they often left saying 'thank you,' because they realized the judgment was fair and reasonable and done with respect. He treated them like people rather than a number."
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