Press Release

About the Book

Judge* Hoff, Jesus Loves You but the Rest of Us Think You're an A**hole! is Agatha Hoff 's captivating account of her years as a San Francisco Court Commissioner. The book's title was taken from graffiti left by a disgruntled litigant on the courthouse bathroom wall, much to the amusement of observers, including Agatha herself. From the recurrent parade of prostitutes she recognized on a first-name basis, to the out-of-towners trying to navigate a day in the city, Agatha captures it all with her keen eye for detail and wry sense of humor.

From the introduction, written by Agatha Hoff:

"Humanity with all its foibles showed me glimpses of lives lived. Often poignant, truths or half-truths or outright lies during testimony were expressed in ways that tickled my funny bone and made others in the courtroom laugh out loud.

As I developed my notes into stories, it occurred to me that events in my own life provided the same mix of humor and pathos. I threw a few of those into the mix, so those who read this can laugh at, as well as with me."

Author Bio

Agatha Hoff started in poverty law where clients often abandoned her for a “real lawyer” (someone they paid). When she became a real lawyer, her personal injury clients termed her practice “the armpit of the law." When she was appointed a court commissioner, her favorite moniker was uttered by an angry litigant in traffic court, calling her a “fascist terrorist cross-dressed in the cloak of justice." When at last a British tourist called her “Your Worship,” Agatha thought she’d retire before it went to her head. She celebrated her retirement by going skydiving.

Author Interview

Q: What were some of the differences between writing your first book, Burning Horses: A Hungarian Life Turned Upside Down, and your second, Judge* Hoff, Jesus Loves You But the Rest of Us Think You're an A**hole!?

A: Writing Burning Horses was a catharsis. My mother's untold story weighed on my mind and needed to be told for the sake of family lore, if nothing else.  Judge Hoff* is a collection of articles previously published in San Francisco Attorney Magazine, written to entertain lawyers with the expressed purpose of trying to make them laugh. Now I'd like to share these tales with a broader audience. The stories were easier to write because they are mostly light hearted. They encapsulate a lot of the craziness that goes on in the courts, as well as life in general. In a sense it's autobiographical.

Q: What was your most memorable day in court?

A: The most touching day I experienced in court was when a grateful litigant who had appeared before me in traffic court brought me a lamp he had crafted out of an apple juice bottle. (see, "Confessions of a Court Commissioner," page 155 in Judge* Hoff)

Q: How have you seen San Francisco change throughout the years you've lived here?

A: Had I been Rip Van Winkle and gone to sleep when I arrived in San Francisco in 1949 and woken up today 62 years later, I wouldn't recognize the city. The highlights of the skyline used to be Coit Tower, the Shell Building and the Ferry Building. Now those are overshadowed by a proliferation of skyscrapers. The population has changed from being predominantly Caucasian, with a low percentage of African Americans, to now being a majority Asian. The changes are neither better or worse - just fascinating.

Q: What's your writing routine?

A: I'm an insomniac, so I do my writing mostly at dawn, before the world stirs, when there are no interruptions.

Q: Why is it important to you to tell your stories?

A: I enjoy sharing the quirks of the human race with others.  I find so many things that happen are funny and poignant at the same time.

Q: Any tips for people going before a judge?

A: The truth shines forth like a beacon.  Stick with it and you should do OK. If you are intimidated by the black robed figure of the judge, visualize him sitting there in his underwear. That will have an immensely humanizing effect.

Q: As a bicyclist and former traffic court commissioner, what's your view on San Francisco's move to integrate more bike lanes?

A: I love it. Safe places to park bikes are still needed and sometime I hope we will follow N.Y. City's example, where some office buildings have dedicated rooms for secure bicycle storage.  Often I would make a trip to a store or the movies by bike, if only I could leave my bike in a safe place. (see, "A Bike Named Charlie," page 55 in Judge* Hoff

Q: Any plans for a third book?

A: Writing is like a disease. I can't stop. I'm playing around with a bunch of cabbie chronicles, gleaned from taxi drivers over the years.

Agatha was interviewed for the January, 2012 issue of the Richmond Review. Read the interview here.

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