March 8, 1946 — Dec. 23, 2012
Stephen (Steve) Berlin passed away from cancer on Dec. 23, 2012 in his home in Davis, his loving wife of 24 years, Linda, and his 18-year old son, Eddie, by his side.
Steve was born in Brooklyn, N.Y., on March 8, 1946, and was raised in Silver Spring, Md. He attended the University of Chicago, where he was heavily involved in the folk music society, and graduated with honors in history. He came out to California in 1969 when he was accepted into and graduated from Stanford Law School. For nearly 40 years thereafter, Steve was a brilliant criminal defense attorney for several public defender offices and in private practice.
He began his career in 1972 with the Yolo County Public Defender’s Office. He then went to work for the State Public Defender’s Office in Sacramento where he argued a number of death penalty cases before the California Supreme Court. In 1984, he was hired by the Marin Public Defender’s Office to help represent David Carpenter, who was later convicted and sentenced to death as the “Trailside Killer.”
He left the Public Defender’s Office in 1991 for private practice. During those 10 years, Steve, along with two other defense lawyers, founded Alternative Defenders Inc. in 1994, an agency that still provides private criminal defense lawyers to the Marin County courts for indigent defendants who cannot be represented by the Marin Public Defender’s Office because of professional conflicts of interest. ADI was one of Steve’s proudest achievements.
In 2002, Steve and his family moved to Davis, as he returned to his legal roots by rejoining the Yolo County Public Defender’s Office in Woodland, where he served as one of the senior deputies until his cancer forced him to retire in 2009.
Steve will be remembered as a gifted attorney and a compassionate man who had an encyclopedic understanding of criminal law, yet always took the time and found the way to carefully explain to his clients what they were being charged with and what their options were, no matter what level of intelligence, understanding or language they possessed. He represented each and every one of his thousands of clients with the utmost respect and dignity. He gave his all to all of his clients.
Steve was an avid motorcyclist for 45 years, having taken his last long ride a little over a year ago. He also enjoyed playing his 100-plus-year-old banjo and listening to bluegrass music. He became a big hockey fan over the past nine years, while proudly watching his son Eddie play Roller Hockey in Davis, Woodland, Florida and Toronto.
In addition to his wife and son, he is also survived by his older brother Arnold (Barbara) Berlin of Potomac, Md.; nephews Justin, Kevin and Noah; niece Danielle; and his sister-in-law, Loraine Simard.
A public celebration of Steve’s life will begin at 2:30 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 2, in the Social Hall at Bet Haverim Synagogue, 1715 Anderson Road in Davis.
In lieu of flowers, the family requests memorial donations for Steve to the International Rett Syndrome Foundation, www.rettsyndrome.org.