Robert A. Borghesi, a former forklift operator who wielded influence with judges and lawyers as master calendar clerk at Sacramento Superior Court, died June 2 of pneumonia, his family said. He was 74.
Mr. Borghesi retired in 2002 after 17 years overseeing the scheduling of civil and criminal cases heard at five Sacramento County court locations. Like an air traffic controller, he juggled the availability of judges, the schedules of busy lawyers, a dearth of courtrooms and a growing caseload to keep Sacramento's legal system afloat.
He worked with the presiding judge to balance the assignments of trials and preliminary hearings to members of the bench. He consulted daily with courtroom clerks on the status of cases and made last-minute changes to accommodate time-consuming murder trials and complex civil litigation. He helped create a unified countywide court system after the Superior and Municipal courts merged in 1998.
"Bob had his finger on the pulse of the court," said Arthur G. Scotland, a former Superior Court judge and retired state appellate justice. "He knew the capabilities and idiosyncrasies of the judges and which cases were good fits for which judges."
The father of a developmentally disabled child, Mr. Borghesi was active in Special Olympics and served 10 years as president of the Sacramento area organization. He recruited courthouse workers to volunteer and donate money to Special Olympics.
"Bob absolutely loved Special Olympics and devoted many quality hours to it," said lawyer Pat McCarthy, a Special Olympics board member. "It was an all-volunteer organization in those days, and he utilized all of his contacts to supplement whatever resources we had."
Robert August Borghesi rose from humble beginnings to hold sway in the Sacramento legal community. The son of a bartender, he was born Sept. 15, 1938, and raised in West Sacramento. After marrying and starting a family, he operated a forklift at a frozen food plant and followed when the job was moved to Watsonville.
In 1964, his 6-month-old son, Russell, contracted spinal meningitis and became mentally disabled. To get medical care for his son, he quit his job, returned to Sacramento and received welfare. Put to work to repay benefits, he took a job in the county elections office before joining the courts for 35 years.
Mr. Borghesi, who often wore suspenders and loafers at work, was widely respected in the legal profession. At home, he was a hardworking dad who moonlighted at a service station for years to support his family. He stayed up late many nights writing thank-you notes to Special Olympics supporters.
"He started out as a forklift operator and ended up wearing a suit and tie to work," said his son Bobby. "He was very proud of himself, and all of us kids were proud of him."
Mr. Borghesi was predeceased in 1994 by his wife of 34 years, Gay. Their youngest son, Ronnie, drowned at 3 in a swimming pool in 1970.
Survivors include four children, Bobby, Debbie, Tim and Russell, all of Sacramento; 10 grandchildren; and seven great-grandchildren.
A viewing is set for 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Wednesday, and a service at 10 a.m. Thursday, at Andrews & Greilich Mortuary, 3939 Fruitridge Road, Sacramento. Donations to assist the family may be sent to Debbie Borghesi, 5244 Hackberry Lane, No. 238, Sacramento, CA 95841.
Editor's note: This story has been updated to clarify the date of the viewing.
Call The Bee's Robert D. Davila, (916) 321-1077. Follow him on Twitter @Bob_Davila.