Private Judging

    • Circumstances sometimes require an extra degree of special treatment and care. For example: A high earning spouse may not want a public record of her/his earnings as would be the case in open court.

    • An issue is too sensitive to be recorded in a public record or even heard in an open courtroom.

    • A case is so complicated and complex that the cost of full discovery would make the cost of litigation skyrocket and a less formal proceeding is requested by the parties.

    • The parties prefer the intimacy and privacy of having their dispute heard in a conference room rather than a courtroom.

Sometimes, the court’s calendar and the court process cause unwanted delay and expense, justifying the cost of a private judge.

For example:

    • If the court’s calendar is such that a multi-day trial takes months (or years) to complete because of the manner of scheduling Family Law Trials.

    • Or, if the court calendar requires counsel and the parties to wait for other matters to conclude, or if your case is interrupted so that other matters can be heard by the judge, and your case takes longer to conclude.

The longer a case takes to resolve, the more expensive the case is to conclude.

These circumstances (and others) sometimes warrant a private judge to hear a case, upon the stipulation of the parties.

With nearly fifteen years decision-making experience on the bench in practically every area of the law, I feel quite capable of dealing with and deciding issues in any Contract, Tort, Probate, or Family Law case.

How Private Judging works

Before the hearing, the parties (and their counsel, if any) will sign a Stipulation of Appointment of Private Judge (a form I provide) which says they agree that I will serve as a Temporary Judge. Next, I prepare a Certification and Oath which I sign. Then, we file all of the signed documents with the court in the Family Law department or the Civil department.

My Order of Appointment as a Temporary Judge (also prepared by me) is signed by a Superior Court Judge as an Order of the Court. The term of Appointment is specified in the Order. Usually, the Appointment lasts only until the last day of hearing is completed and any Judgment or Order is filed by me.

Then, the hearing takes place on full, consecutive days until completed.

After the hearing, my Orders or Judgment as a Private Judge are filed with the Court and are of the same force and effect as any other Superior Court Judicial Orders. They are enforceable, appealable and final, just like an Order signed and filed by a sitting Judge.

All of the procedures described above are contained within the California Rules of Court.

But isn't it more expensive??

That's the obvious question. And the answer is "NO!"

If you have a lawyer and you are charged for preparation time, travel time, and wait time (and you likely are!), then one continuance (postponement), combined with the trip to the Family Law Courthouse, will pay for the Private Judge.

If you have a lawyer and your case is complicated because it involves a lot of financial documents or requires an expert to testify about values, the court time and expert expense that will be saved by adoption of custom-tailored rules of Evidence will pay for a Private Judge.

If you have specific questions about Private Judging for your case, email me at:

" Irwin Joseph was the judge in a very complex, difficult and bitter custody case that I worked on. His decision was thoughtful, compassionate and fair. It stood up on appeal. Both before and after the final judgment, he would attempt to craft settlement of the issues. He would quickly get right to the heart of the dispute and his suggestions for resolution had the same characteristics as his decision, both tough-minded and compassionate."

David R.