Michael Begert shaking hands
michael begert's mother and grandmother

About Judge
Michael Isaku Begert

Judge Begert is the youngest of five children to his immigrant Japanese mother, Sono Nishimura, and father, Carl Begert.  He grew up in a biracial household and attended public school in Washington.  Judge Begert’s father was a 20-year US Air Force veteran.  His parents met in Tokyo during the US occupation.  When the military transferred Carl to California in 1949, Sono took a steamship to San Francisco where they were reunited.  They married and raised a family.

Judge Begert was born on McChord AFB in Tacoma, Washington.  He grew up close to the base, where his father worked as a civil servant.  During the summers, Judge Begert picked berries and vegetables on the local farms.  While neither of his parents received a college degree, Judge Begert and his four siblings were able to attend college.  He graduated from the University of Washington and earned his law degree from the University of Chicago Law School.

In 1989, Judge Begert moved to San Francisco after law school.  He was married at Convent of the Sacred Heart.  Judge Begert’s three children were born at California Pacific Medical Center (CPMC) and attended Nihonmachi Little Friends in Japantown.

michael begert and his grandmothermichael begert's mother and grandmother
nuestra divider blue

Serving San Francisco
for 13 years

Judge Michael Isaku Begert has served San Francisco as a Superior Court Judge since January 2011.  He was chosen to build and lead San Francisco’s Community Assistance, Recovery and Empowerment (CARE) Court, created by Governor Newsom to help people with certain mental health disorders receive the support and care they need.  Since 2019, he has presided over three treatment courts: Veterans Justice Court (VJC), Community Justice Court (CJC) and Drug Treatment Court. 

Prior judicial assignments include Assistant Supervising Judge of Unified Family Court (child custody, dissolutions, child/spousal support), Juvenile justice and Dependency (CPS cases), civil trials, criminal trials and traffic.

Before joining the bench in 2011, Judge Begert volunteered with numerous community based and national agencies.  He served on the board of directors for Asian Law Caucus, National Asian Pacific American Legal Consortium, Asian Americans Advancing Justice, and Lawyers Committee for Civil Rights of the San Francisco Bay Area.

michael begert shaking handsmichael begert and his wife and kids
michael begert shaking handsmichael begert and his wife and kids
nuestra divider blue
michael begertmihcael begert with an award

Judge Begert has courage, compassion, and respect for the law and the community

Judge Begert has been part of the San Francisco legal community for over 34 years.

Before he was appointed, Judge Begert was an attorney for 20 years with McCutchen, one of San Francisco’s oldest and most respected law firms.  He has devoted his entire legal career – spanning more than three decades – to San Francisco.  Judge Begert is proud to serve San Franciscans because we have the courage to be compassionate.

Judge Begert understands difficult challenges all San Franciscans face. Those challenges impact real people with families and loved ones.  He understood this as a pro bono lawyer working on civil rights cases side-by-side with the Asian Law Caucus and the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights. 

Judge Begert’s 13 years of judicial service has been focused on these difficult problems and on the people experiencing them.  He sought out assignments in Family Law, Juvenile Justice, Juvenile Dependency, Drug Treatment Court, Community Justice Court, and Veterans Justice Court – particularly because his father was a service veteran.  Over the past year, Judge Begert built one of the first-ever CARE Courts in the State.  He also helped create a Restorative Justice project to promote real healing and pioneered Nuevos Destinos to partner with the community in a culturally competent way.

In each role, Judge Begert has battled against the challenges of criminal behavior, drug addiction, inadequate treatment, the housing crisis, mental illness, racism, wealth inequity, and the relentless degradation of humanity that these leave in their wake.  This has been his life’s passion, and he has pursued it while respecting the dignity and humanity of everyone who appears before him.

michael begertmihcael begert with an award