Hon. Robert Hight (Ret.) joins JAMS following a distinguished career as a respected jurist and a civil servant. He served on the Sacramento County Superior Court bench for 13 years, the last six years as Supervising Civil Judge, Assistant Presiding Judge, and finally Presiding Judge.
Prior to being appointed to the bench in 2003, Judge Hight was Director of the California Department of Fish and Game. He worked for 28 years at the State Lands Commission serving as Staff Counsel, Chief Counsel, and as Executive Officer. During that time, Judge Hight was instrumental in acquiring environmentally sensitive land for the state through imaginative settlement of litigation.
Drawing on his extensive state government experience Judge Hight is adept at facilitating settlements in cases involving the State or local governmental entities. His laser-focus, creative problem solving skills, and keen ability to reach common ground with parties allows him to work through some of the unique issues private parties and public entities face in disputes involving local, state, or federal agencies.
Judge Hight is described by attorneys as polite, honest, fair and effective. The consummate deal-maker, his desire to provide access to justice that is timely and open to all is exemplified in his ADR practice at JAMS.
- Successfully mediated a multi-million dollar breach of contract involving the State and a vendor contracted to design a state payroll system.
- Case involving the State Lands Commission and a homeowners’ association regarding tideline boundary disputes in Southern California.
- Numerous eminent domain disputes between the High Speed Rail Authority and landowners and business owners with regards to a state high-speed rail project.
- Matter involving a homeowners’ association levying an allegedly illegal assessment on homeowners.
- Participated in the Butte Fire mediations (which total more than 2000 cases) working with PG&E and individual homeowners and businesses to settle compensation issues over fire damages.
- Presided over settlement of Solano County Water Agency vs. State of California Department of Water Resources, a dispute over area of origin water rights.
- Key negotiator, representing the California Department of Fish & Game in the Colorado River Quantification Settlement. The 75 year agreement, which took five years to negotiate, brought California into conformance with its allocation of water from the Colorado River. In addition, it provided San Diego with a guaranteed water supply during the term of the agreement and provided a restoration path for the environmentally sensitive Salton Sea. The agreement settled water disputes among four of California's largest water agencies and seven states that share water from the Colorado River.
Land Negotiations and Settlements
- Cory v. Bank of America: The State Controller filed suit against Bank of America for violations of the states unclaimed property law. Settlement involved Bank of America paying $27 million in cash and dedicating some 10,000 acres of environmentally sensitive land to the State, now managed by the Nature Conservancy.
- The California State Lands Commission filed suit against seven major oil companies for price fixing. In the settlement, in addition to monetary compensation, one company dedicated some 10,000 acres of environmentally significant land near Santa Barbara to the State, home of one of the last remaining stands of Burton Mesa Chaparral in the United States.
- Howard Hughes Estate: Settlement of the State’s inheritance tax claims against the estate of Howard Hughes, acquiring 250 acres of fragile wetlands at Playa Vista for the citizens of California, one of the last remaining wetlands area in the Los Angeles Basin.
- Bolsa Chica: The ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach desired to expand their terminal operations by filling portions of the surrounding bay. Under federal and state law such fill requires mitigation (replacement) for the habitat lost. Judge Hight negotiated the purchase of 880 acres of developable land at Bolsa Chica just south of Huntington Beach for $100 million. The acquired lands were restored to their original condition as wetlands.
- Cargill Salt Ponds: Acquired 16,500 acres of land in South San Francisco Bay for $100 million. The restoration of these salt ponds to wetlands is the largest restoration project outside of the Florida Everglades.