San Jose honors former city attorney
The San Jose City Council's closed session room, now renamed in honor of former City Attorney Rick Doyle. Photo courtesy of San Jose.

    The conference room behind the San Jose City Council chambers is now named after a local giant—former City Attorney Rick Doyle.

    Doyle was a longtime public servant who spent more than 20 years in City Hall. He died at the age of 65 from cancer, just 10 days after retiring, on Aug. 23, 2020. He advised three mayors, 38 councilmembers and six city managers, and did most of it in the private area behind the dais known as the closed session room. That’s why city officials found it most fitting to name the room in his honor.

    Former City Attorney Rick Doyle worked for San Jose for 26 years. Photo courtesy of San Jose.

    The name change was announced on Dec. 13, Doyle’s birthday. His niece, Meghan Doyle, said the family is honored to have Doyle recognized in such a manner—especially on his birthday.

    “He loved working for all of you. He loved working with the city manager. And really, really loved and was proud of his team,” Meghan Doyle said, thanking city officials. “We love that it’s a conference room. It’s like where you do the work and that was Rick.”

    Officials like City Manager Jennifer Maguire and Mayor Sam Liccardo agreed naming the closed session room after Doyle is the best way to honor his legacy. Councilmember Raul Peralez first proposed the idea. Bob Staedler, a development and land use consultant and San José Spotlight columnist, who worked with Doyle, supports the renaming.

    Doyle served in the city attorney’s office for 26 years. He started in 1989 as a senior deputy city attorney, and was promoted to chief deputy city attorney. After a five-year stint as city attorney for Concord, he returned to San Jose in 2000 and served for 20 years.

    “It is a tremendous opportunity to be able to name a particular part of the city that had a lot of meaning to him, and a lot of meaning to the city,” Peralez told San José Spotlight. “It’s not extremely well known to the public because it’s a closed session room, but one that I felt was a tremendous honor for him.”

    Doyle led the city through countless lawsuits—from resolving the contentious Measure B pension battle to claims arising from the massive flooding of three San Jose neighborhoods. He was there when supporters of former President Donald Trump filed suit after being assaulted following a campaign rally.

    In one of his last public interviews, Doyle told San José Spotlight in June 2020 that the city has many challenges and opportunities in the years ahead as it grapples with overhauling its policing and confronting inequality and racism.

    “There’s a lot of exciting things coming up in the future, and I think it’s something that’s going to be debated and discussed, and I think that’s something that somebody else can certainly handle moving forward,” Doyle said at the time.

    Maguire described Doyle as a skilled negotiator, dedicated professional and a valued adviser and mentor.

    “I spent countless hours with Rick. His advice guided me through many complex situations and I’m proud to remember him both as a colleague and as a friend,” Maguire said.

    City Attorney Nora Frimann, who worked with Doyle for many years, fought back tears as she recounted their relationship.

    “Rick loved being the city attorney… He drilled into all of us what a privilege it was to work for the city of San Jose,” Frimann said. “He was a role model for the attorneys in our office, and we continue our representation of the city in keeping with his example.”

    Contact Jana Kadah at [email protected] or @Jana_Kadah on Twitter.

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