Pictured above: Cindy Hopper is sworn in as a Commissioner. Pictured (L to R back row): Commissioner Rhonda Duncan (Law ‘82), Commissioner Heather Mardel Jones, Hon. Gary Hoff, Hon. Jonathan Conklin, Hon. Mark Snauffer, Hon. Arlan Harrell, Commissioner Sam Dalesandro, Hon. Michael Idiart, and Commissioner Gary Green. Front row: Hon. Rosemary McGuire (Law ‘94), Hon. Alan Simpson (Law ’83), Hon. Lisa Gamoian (PJ), Hon. Kimberly Gaab, Commissioner Cindy Hopper (Law ’97), Hon. D. Tyler Tharpe, Hon. Houry Sanderson (Law ’87), Hon. Kimberly Nystrom-Geist (Law ’92), Commissioner Leanne Le Mon. Photo Courtesy Tracy Olsen.
Cynthia J. Hopper Appointed Commissioner
Cindy Hopper began her college career at Fresno City College, graduating with an AS in Business. She had contemplated becoming an accountant, but was very interested in the law; her daytime hero was Perry Mason (in reruns). She also was interested in the criminal justice system and aspired to be like her nighttime hero, Quincy ME. However, after asking one of her professors which field paid women the same as men, he responded “the law” and her mind was made up. Perry Mason it would be.
When she asked her Dad what he thought of her becoming an attorney and going to law school, she recalls he said “Maybe you could just be a paralegal-that’s a lot of work.” She also recalls replying to him “Now I’m REALLY going to law school.”
Hard work was something that Cindy never shied away from. She went on to get a Bachelor’s Degree from Fresno State and her J.D. from San Joaquin College of Law in 1997, immediately opening her own law practice and taking any case that came in the door. Among the cases Cindy was involved with at the beginning of her career was a rape trial involving 14 Hmong defendants. It was the largest gang trial in the history of Fresno County. She represented one of the defendants through a grueling eight month trial with national coverage. After the case went to the jury Cindy married her long time fiancé. She then began practicing exclusively in family law.
That focus on Family Law led to her running a very successful and busy family law practice, becoming a Certified Family Law Specialist with the State Bar of California, serving as a Pro-Tem Judge in Family Law and chairing the Family Law Section of the Fresno County Bar Association.
She loves Family Law, adding one day a gentleman stopped her in the courthouse and asked if she was Cindy Hopper. She nodded and he told her “You got me full custody of my son. He just graduated from U.C. Davis. He’s an engineer. It wouldn’t have happened without you.” Another time a woman stopped her and said “Can I hug you? I want to thank you. You helped me get my children back.”
She explains “These children (one was obviously an adult now) are doing well. It’s about helping people, using the courts to do that, because sometimes people get themselves involved in circumstances that are beyond their control. Sometimes people have unfortunate things happen to them and their families. People sometimes get stuck in a temporary situation and need help to get themselves out. That is what the Courts are here to do-to help people.”
Cindy is delighted that she has been assigned as a Child Support Commissioner under the Family Law Division. She remembers her interview with the Executive Committee of the Court. It was nerve wracking being interviewed by eight of the finest bench officers in the State. She told them they would not be sorry for hiring her because her work ethic is impeccable. Cindy recalls her years working as an Assistant Manager for Thrifty’s Drug Stores. “My work ethic is strong. I put myself through school, and through law school.”
The hardest part in making the transition from private attorney to Court Commissioner was not shutting down her practice; it was putting her law license on hold (in abeyance). “I’m not an attorney anymore,” she lamented, adding that 20 years of practicing law and being an attorney had become part of her identity. She consoles herself by remembering her number one role, relating to a certain 16-year-old. “I’m Keegan’s Mom and I always will be.”
As for deciding Child Support cases, she feels she can be extremely effective. She reads every page of every file before every hearing. “Child support can be a very tough assignment as you are dealing with people, their children and their money. However it is the State of California’s public policy that the children in our community and in our State are to be financially provided for. And isn’t that what we want anyway as a society, to take care of our children?”