Gary Blair, the quiet, behind-the-scenes Wizard of Oz who kept Santa Barbara’s courthouse organized and humming, is now retiring after 37 years in county employment, most of which was spent as the chief executive of the court. Blair will retire as the longest-serving court executive in California. When he started, there were 10 judges and 35 employees; today, there are 24 judges and 250 positions. During the Michael Jackson trial in 2004, Blair ordered the construction of a website managing all court documents and allowing the public to track the trial; for this he received a prestigious award. He also oversaw the merger of Santa Barbara’s superior court and municipal court systems in 1996, not to mention the construction of new jury building and a new juvenile court. A retirement event has been planned for Blair at the El Paseo on July 19. No successor has yet been named.


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