Hon. Richard Bennett (Ret.)

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Hon. Richard Bennett (Ret.) served on the Napa County Courts for twenty-one years, including three years as Presiding Judge and six years as Assistant Presiding Judge of the Superior Court. Since 2006, Judge Bennett has served on the Administrative Office of the Courts Assigned Judges Program in Alameda, Lake, Marin, Modoc, Monterey, Napa, San Benito, and Solano Counties.

Judge Bennett is known for maintaining the perfect balance between humor, calm, and grace necessary to defuse potentially stressful or highly emotional situations in order to lead to resolution. Lawyers praise him for being accessible, articulate, fair, and efficient. Judge Bennett continues to hear ongoing matters but at this time is not accepting new cases.

ADR Experience and Qualifications

  • Settled numerous civil, family law, and probate matters
  • Regularly conducted mandatory and voluntary settlement conferences
  • Participated in creation and operation of the Napa Superior Court Family Mediation Program, Napa Superior Court Dependency Mediation Program, and Napa County Superior Court Unified Family Court
  • Heard and rendered Tentative Decisions and Statements of Decision in hundreds of bench trials throughout his judicial career

Representative Matters

  • Agribusiness case settlement conferences and bench trials involving grape contracts, property line disputes, scope of easement issues, family ownership issues
  • Business/Commercial mediation regarding the sale and purchase of restaurant premises for an upscale restaurant; and the distribution of a substantial deposit upon failure of the sale
  • Mediated a case involving a real estate purchase contract and disagreement over the language regarding retention of a view shed easement
  • Mediated a business case involving claims regarding deficiencies in a mobile wine bottling line trailer
  • Construction case settlement conferences and trials involving workmanship, breach of contract, mechanic's lien issues
  • Eminent Domain case where a public agency sought condemnation for public highway purposes of land belonging to a big box store adjacent to a roadway
  • Employment case settlement conferences and trials involving wrongful termination, constructive termination, determination of employee/independent contractor issues, FEHA, sexual and racial discrimination, sexual harassment
  • Family Law settlement conferences, contested hearings and bench trials, involving complex issues of transmutation, tracing, contribution, appointment and monitoring of receivers, validity of prenuptial agreements, spousal and child support, and high conflict custody and visitation matters
  • Mediated a family law case involving issues of identification, valuation and distribution of community property
  • Mediated a family law case involving visitation during all holiday and school breaks during the year; the issues were unresolved previously despite several years of regular appearances on the family law master calendar
  • Governmental Actions settlement conferences and trials, including General Plan litigation, land use, governmental immunity issues, CEQA actions, eminent domain, including flood control cases, and parcel assessment taxation matters
  • Personal Injury settlement conferences and trials involving motor vehicle accidents, motorcycle versus car accidents, car versus pedestrian accidents, slip-and-fall cases, elder abuse, construction site injuries, hot-air balloon crash
  • Mediated a personal injury matter where a pedestrian suffered injuries, including brain injury, after being physically assaulted by a driver after the driver exited a vehicle used in the course of the driver's employment
  • Probate settlement conferences and trials, including will contests, creditors claims, oral agreements to make wills, beneficiary litigation, accountings, contested conservatorships, and guardianships
  • Product Liability settlement conferences and trials, including catastrophic injuries relating to operation of farming equipment, bicycles, and of office equipment
  • Professional Liability settlement conferences and trials, including malpractice allegations regarding medical care, architects, structural engineering, legal, and accountancy
  • Mediated a professional malpractice case involving allegations of negligence by a family law attorney during representation in a high value, high conflict dissolution action

Honors, Memberships, and Professional Activities

  • Admitted United States Courts for the Ninth Circuit, 1973
  • Admitted United States Supreme Court, 1976
  • Member, California Judges Association, 1985-present
    • Member, California Judges Association Family Law Committee

Background and Education

  • Graduate, Strauss Institute for Dispute Resolution, "Mediating the Litigated Case,” Pepperdine University, 2003
  • Assigned Judge, AOC Assigned Judges Program, 2007-2011
  • Judge, Napa Superior Court, 1996-2006 (Presiding Judge, 2001, 2002, 2005; Assistant Presiding Judge, 1996, 1997, 1998, 1999, 2003, 2004)
  • Judge, Napa Municipal Court, 1985-1996 (Presiding Judge, 1987, 1990, 1993; Assistant Presiding Judge, 1994, 1995)
  • Division Chief, Napa County District Attorney’s Office, 1983-1985
  • Partner, Jones, Bennett & Cox, 1973-1982
  • Assistant City Attorney, Calistoga, California, 1975-1982
  • Counsel for Napa County Public Administrator & Public Guardian, 1973-1982
  • J.D., University of California, Hastings College of the Law, 1973 (Graduating Class President)
  • B.A. in Business Administration with emphasis in Accounting, Golden Gate University, San Francisco, 1969

Disclaimer

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