David Thompson

Hon. David A. Thompson (Ret.)

JAMS Arbitrator, Mediator, Special Master/Referee, and Neutral Evaluator

Case Manager
Matthew Levington
T: 714-937-8258
F: 714-939-8710
5 Park Plaza, Suite 400, Irvine, CA 92614


Hon. David A. Thompson (Ret.) joined JAMS after a distinguished 24-year career on the bench. As a justice of the California Court of Appeal for nine years, he authored hundreds of opinions concerning civil and commercial litigation. Previously, Justice Thompson served 15 years as a trial judge in the Orange County Superior Court where he presided over hundreds of civil trials and heard thousands of civil motions.

Prior to taking the bench, Justice Thompson was in private practice for 14 years with two large civil firms. As a civil litigation attorney, he handled general business, construction defect, landlord-tenant, product liability, and real property related cases for companies and individuals. As a business transaction attorney, he handled many aspects of acquiring, developing, financing, leasing, and selling commercial and residential real property.

Justice Thompson is highly regarded among counsel for his keen intellect, friendly demeanor, and real-world experience. A very quick study, his approach to problem-solving is practical, cooperative, objective, deliberate, and thoughtful. He possesses an uncanny ability to see all sides of the legal chessboard at once. He is also known for his raw talent, fairmindedness, common sense, and uncompromising commitment to excellence.

ADR Experience and Qualifications

  • Mediated business, commercial, employment, insurance, and trust disputes
  • Performed neutral evaluation and conducted mock argument in appellate matters
  • Served as discovery referee in complex cases 
  • Authored significant opinions on alternative dispute resolution issues
  • Conducted mandatory and voluntary settlement conferences
  • Represented clients in arbitrations, mediations, settlements, and business transaction negotiations
  • Represented clients in arbitrations and mediations
  • Represented clients in settlement and business transaction negotiations
  • Completed Mediating the Litigated Case, Straus Institute for Dispute Resolution

Representative Matters


  • Performed neutral evaluation and conducted mock argument in high stakes appellate matters
  • Authored more than 700 opinions and concurred in thousands more
  • Participated in thousands of oral arguments and writ proceedings
  • Represented clients in civil writs and appeals


  • Authored many opinions on wrongful foreclosure and lender liability issues
  • Represented clients in many types of real property secured lending transactions and related litigation


  • Authored opinions about the effect of bankruptcy actions in state court cases
  • Represented clients in bankruptcy court automatic stay litigation


  • Authored opinions in business and commercial cases, including significant opinions on attorney fees, contract interpretation, complex business transactions, corporate governance, and discovery abuse.
  • Presided over dozens of business and commercial trials, including breach of contract, breach of fiduciary duty, fraud, and business tort causes of action

Civil Rights

  • Authored noteworthy opinions on constitutionally protected speech and anti-SLAPP motions
  • Presided over wrongful arrest and excessive use of force civil rights trials


  • Authored opinions on variety of construction and construction contract issues
  • Presided over multiple trials regarding construction and contracting disputes
  • Represented clients in stop notice, mechanics lien, and completion bond matters

Construction Defect

  • Authored numerous opinions in construction defect and related construction liability cases
  • Served as discovery referee in complex construction defect case
  • Presided over and represented clients in residential construction defect and soil subsidence litigation

Employment Law

  • Authored opinions and presided over trials involving many familiar employment issues, including age, race and sex discrimination and harassment and other Fair Employment and Housing Act claims; wrongful termination and retaliation claims; disability and pension benefits claims; and wage and hour claims

Environmental Law

  • Authored multiple opinions on California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) and related issues
  • Authored notable opinion on Coastal Act and Marine Mammal Protection Act


  • Mediated substantial estate, probate, and trust disputes
  • Authored opinions concerning accounting, lack of capacity, elder abuse, and undue influence issues
  • Authored significant opinions on trust interpretation, breach of fiduciary duty, and trustee malfeasance
  • Presided over several complicated estate, probate, and trust trials

Family Law

  • Authored opinions on common family law issues like dissolution; child and spousal support; child custody and visitation; marital property valuation and division; marital settlement agreements; and attorney fees

Intellectual Property

  • Authored opinions on misappropriation of intellectual property and trade secrets
  • Represented clients in major trademark and trade dress litigation


  • Authored opinions regarding insurance coverage, policy interpretation and bad faith
  • Presided over several insurance coverage and insurance bad faith trials
  • Mediated extensive insurance fraud prevention act case
  • Represented clients in major disciplinary litigation with the Department of Insurance

Personal Injury/Torts

  • Authored opinions in numerous types of personal injury and product liability cases
  • Authored important opinions on governmental tort claims and immunities
  • Presided over many personal injury and wrongful death trials, involving negligence; dangerous condition of public property; governmental immunity; premises liability; product liability; nuisance; assault and battery; false imprisonment; sexual molestation; malicious prosecution; and defamation
  • Represented clients in wrongful death action resulting from water-skiing accident
  • Represented clients in JCCP silicone breast implant litigation

Professional Liability

  • Authored opinions on many medical malpractice issues including expert witness designation and testimony, standard of care, statute of limitations, summary judgment and MICRA
  • Presided over medical malpractice trials on failure to properly diagnose methicillin-resistant staph aureus brain infection leading to catastrophic stroke and failure to timely diagnose cancer resulting in death
  • Authored significant opinions on legal malpractice, attorney ethics and attorney disqualification
  • Presided over legal malpractice, malicious prosecution, and attorney fee trials

Real Property

  • Authored opinions on diverse real property issues, including conditional use permits, CEQA and other land use; broker disclosure and compensation; easements and adjoining property owner rights; purchase and sale transactions; homeowner’s associations; leases; and foreclosure
  • Presided over real estate trials concerning adverse possession; homeowner’s associations and CC&R’s; inverse condemnation; nuisance; partition; purchase and sale; specific performance; and unlawful detainer
  • Maintained broad real estate transaction practice comprising aspects of buying and selling, developing, financing, and leasing commercial and residential real property, plus related real property secured lending
  • Represented clients in transactions related to development of 20,000 home master planned community, focused on bulk sale of entitled land to merchant builders, subject to comprehensive land use restrictions
  • Represented clients in negotiating and documenting shopping center, hotel, and affordable housing deals
  • Represented clients in real estate acquisition and development litigation
  • Represented clients in title insurance coverage, lien priority and foreclosure cases
  • Represented clients in accessory apartment class action litigation

Selected Awards and Honors

  • Community Leadership Award, Orange County Lavender Bar Association, 2013
  • Community Achievement Award, Orange County Korean American Bar, 2012
  • Judge of the Year, Orange County Hispanic Bar Association, 2012
  • Unanimously ranked "exceptionally well qualified" for appointment to the Court of Appeal, California State Bar Commission on Judicial Nominees Evaluation, 2012
  • Distinguished Judicial Fellow, Orange County Bar Foundation, 2010
  • Judge of the Year, Orange County Narcotics Officers Association, 2009
  • AV Rating, Martindale-Hubbell, 1991-1997

Selected Memberships and Affiliations

  • Member, Emeritus Board, Project Youth, Orange County Bar Foundation, since 2022
  • Member, Judicial Advisory Council, Association of Business Trial Lawyers, 2006-2009
  • Member, Association of Business Trial Lawyers, since 2001
  • Member, Orange County Bar Association, since 1983
  • Founding Judicial Fellow, Orange County Bar Foundation, Society of Fellows, since 2008

Selected Professional Activities

  • Participant, West Coast Casualty Construction Defect Seminar, 2022
  • Presenter, Effective Oral Advocacy, Orange County Bar Association, Appellate Section, 2019
  • Speaker, Orange County Bar Association, Business Litigation Section, 2014
  • Panelist, Legal Ethics – Do the Right Thing and Avoid Malpractice, Orange County Bar Association, 2012
  • Presenter, Litigation Strategies for the Defense, Association of Corporate Counsel of America, 2011
  • Panelist, Allen E. Broussard Presentation on Professionalism and Civility, Orange County Bar Association and Chapman University School of Law, 2011
  • Participant, Brown Bag Lunch Program, Association of Business Trial Lawyers, 2011
  • Panelist, Judicial Panel Discussion, American Bar Association, 2010 Ninth Circuit Spring Meeting, 2010
  • Panelist, Winning Motions for Summary Judgment, Association of Business Trial Lawyers, 2007
  • Panelist, The Art of War Stories – Litigation Lessons Learned, Orange County Bar Association, 2007
  • Judge, College of Trial Advocacy – Direct and Cross Examination, Orange County Bar Association, 2007
  • Panelist, Medical Malpractice Nuts and Bolts, Orange County Trial Lawyers, 2007
  • Student, Mediating the Litigated Case, Straus Institute for Dispute Resolution, 2006
  • Guest Lecturer, Real Estate Finance, Chapman University Law School, 2006
  • Student, Economics Institute for Judges, AEI-Brookings Center for Regulatory Studies, 2006 and 2004
  • Panelist, Bridging the Gap – Law and Motion, Orange County Bar Association, 2005 and 2006
  • Panelist, Trial Tips from the Bench, Orange County Trial Lawyers, 2004
  • Student, B.E. Witkin Judicial College, Center for Judicial Education and Research, 1999

Selected Publications

  • The California Appellate Law Podcast, October 11, 2022
  • Leveraging the Experience of Retired Appellate Justices, Los Angeles Daily Journal, January 18, 2022
  • Seven Tips on Appellate Oral Argument, Los Angeles Daily Journal, December 20, 2021
  • Five Tips on Appellate Brief Writing, Los Angeles Daily Journal, December 13, 2021
  • Judicial Profile, Los Angeles Daily Journal, November 7, 2013
  • Judicial Profile, Orange County Lawyer, July 2011
  • Judicial Profile, Los Angeles Daily Journal, April 16, 2008
  • “Q&A with the Hon. David A. Thompson,” ABTL Report - Orange County, Spring 2008
  • Judicial Profile, Los Angeles Daily Journal, May 18, 1999
  • Associate Justice, California Court of Appeal, 2012-2021
  • Assigned Justice (pro-tem), California Supreme Court, 2014 and 2018
  • Assistant Presiding Judge, Orange County Superior Court, 2011-2012
  • Judge, Orange County Superior Court, 1998-2012
  • Judge, Orange County Municipal Court, 1997-1998
  • Business Litigation Attorney, Morrison & Foerster, 1996-1997
  • Business Transaction Attorney, Morrison & Foerster, 1988-1995
  • Business Litigation Attorney, Rutan & Tucker, 1984-1988
  • Law Clerk to Justice Edward J. Wallin, California Court of Appeal, 1982-1983
  • J.D, Order of the Coif, University of California, Los Angeles, 1983
  • BSBA Finance, Summa Cum Laude, Georgetown University, 1980

Counsel Comments

    • Justice Thompson is “fair and intellectually honest.”
      – Appellate Specialist
    • Justice Thompson is “a very bright guy, a very quick study.”
      – Business Litigator
    • Justice Thompson “brings his leadership skills and his A game to every task he undertakes. …. In baseball parlance, [he] is a five-tool jurist player, who is eminently qualified….”
      – Senior Partner at Orange County Law Firm
    • “Justice Thompson … will totally immerse himself in all matters … master all the parameters and nuances and work his way through to a sound professional decision...”
      – Senior Partner at Orange County Law Firm
    • Justice Thompson “has the perfect combination of intellect, work ethic and life experience….”
      – Appellate Specialist
    • “Throughout the [six-week] trial, [Justice] Thompson demonstrated a keen intellect and an ability to quickly grasp complex factual and legal issues.”
      – Partner at National Law Firm
    • Justice Thompson “is patient, fair, and respectful to litigants and attorneys, and truly goes the extra mile to ensure that justice is done in every case.”
      – Partner at California Law Firm
    • “[Justice] Thompson brings to each case not only his formidable intellect, but also his practical judgment, polished from years of real-world law practice and experience solving difficult problems as a trial judge.”
      – Orange County Superior Court Judge
    • Justice Thompson “exercises sound judgment and a balanced approach to the resolution of cases and supervision of trials. He has an extraordinary ability to sort through complex legal conflicts and focus on the core issues.”
      – Trial Attorney
    • Justice Thompson “has many fine qualities. I most admire his intellectual curiosity and his practical approach to problem solving.  He has the uncanny ability to see all side of the legal chessboard, at once.”
      – Business Litigator
    • “[Justice] Thompson is one of the best trial judges before whom I have appeared. He is patient, yet efficient; thoughtful, yet decisive.  He is extremely intelligent, hard-working, and shows respect of others while commanding and earing respect in return.”
      – Name Partner at Orange County Law Firm
    • Justice Thompson “is relaxed in court … but he has an astoundingly sharp b.s. meter.”
      – Criminal Defense Attorney
    • Justice Thompson has “stellar academic and intellectual experience, but also has 20 lifetimes of experience … that’s extremely unusual … and it makes him a sharp judge.”
      – Trial Attorney
    • Justice Thompson “was outstanding … his raw work product was really superior … in addition he had a lot of common sense and practical knowledge and could factor in the real world to suggest a strategy.”
      – Senior Partner at Orange County Law Firm
    • “I think [Justice Thompson is] outstanding … a smart man, and he wants to do the right thing.”
      – Name Partner at Orange County Law Firm
    • Justice Thompson “was very cooperative with counsel … ran a complex trial … very efficiently”
      – Name Partner at California Law Firm
    • Justice Thompson “has a very friendly demeanor … he’s very down-to-earth, and he lets you know exactly where he is leaning.”
      – Trial Attorney
    • Justice Thompson “was relaxed, confident and fair-minded … and … he handled everything with skill.”
      – Trial Attorney
    • Justice Thompson “has a unique ability to cut to the heart of any appeal and to recognize the implications of the court’s decision on the parties, the larger community, and the development of the law.”
      – Appellate Specialist
    • Justice Thompson “has a rare combination of a hard-headed, straight-ahead approach to the law and a big heart that never lets him lose sight of the impact his decisions have on real people.”
      – Appellate Colleague



Practice Areas

  • Appellate
  • Banking
  • Business & Commercial
  • Construction Defect
  • Employment Law
  • Environmental Law
  • Estates/Probate/Trusts
  • Family Law
  • Insurance
  • Personal Injury/Torts
  • Professional Liability
  • Real Estate & Real Property


This page is for general information purposes.  JAMS makes no representations or warranties regarding its accuracy or completeness.  Interested persons should conduct their own research regarding information on this website before deciding to use JAMS, including investigation and research of JAMS neutrals. See More