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James Smith (Ret.)

Hon. James L. Smith (Ret.)

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Case Manager
Denise Mitchell
T: 714-937-8229
F: 714-939-8710
500 N. State College Blvd. , 14th Floor , Orange , CA 92868

Judge Smith has over 36 years of experience in resolving real property dispute. As a trial judge, he presided over a large number of real estate related disputes including enforcement/interpretation of real estate purchase agreements, easements and licenses involving real property, title insurance policy disputes, nuisance litigation, and numerous disputes between homeowners and other homeowners and/or homeowners associations. Judge Smith also presided over large toxic waste litigation involving real estate.

As a neutral with JAMS, Judge Smith has conducted mediations in over 2,100 homeowner/homeowner association disputes.

Representative Matters

  • Mediator/Discovery Referee/Special master in numerous cases involving toxic waste remediation
  • Arbitrator in binding arbitration of dispute between public entity and landowner re land fill gas (LFG)
  • Mediator in litigation regarding toxic waste remediation of property owned by public entity
  • Chair, Presiding Judges Advisory Committee to the Judicial Council, 1995
  • Governing Board, Center for Judicial Education and Research (CJER), 1986-1992
  • Judicial Criminal Advisory Committee on Trial Court Coordination, 1974-1978
  • Judicial Criminal Justice Planning Committee, 1974-1978
  • President, Camp Osceola Board of Directors, 1974
  • President, Orange YMCA Board of Directors, 1964-1973
  • Member, Executive Committee, Orange County Superior Court, (7 years, not continuously)
  • Professor, Western State University College of Law, 1972-1989; (teaching Trial Practice, Trial Advocacy, Constitutional Law, Criminal Law, and Introduction to Legal Education)
  • Member, faculty of numerous programs presented by the Center for Judicial Education and Research (CJER) and the California Judges Association (CJA)
  • Taught at the California Judicial College and has served as Team Leader of the Large Court section of the Presiding Judges Institute presented by CJER
  • Participated in numerous CEB programs on various subjects including E-Discovery, Bias In the Workplace, Arbitration Procedures, Effective Mediation Practices, Managing Mental Health and Evidence
  • Served as instructor in Criminal Law for the Orange County Peace Officers Academy
  • "Levity Over Decorum," ADR Profile, Daily Journal, June 14, 2013
  • Judge, Orange County Superior Court, 1980-1995 (Presiding Judge, 1994-1995; Assistant Presiding Judge, 1991-1994; Complex Litigation Panel, 1992-1993; Presiding Judge, Probate Dept. 1987-1988; Supervising Judge, Criminal Panel, 1984-1985; Family Law Panel, 1982)
  • Judge, West Orange County Municipal Court, 1971-1980
  • Sole practitioner with emphasis on litigation, 1967-1971
  • Partner with Schlegel, Friedemann, Kelley & Smith, 1964-1967
  • Deputy District Attorney, County of Orange, 1963-1964 (founded Fraud Div., 1964)
  • Admitted to the California Bar and the U.S. Court of Appeals, Ninth Circuit, 1963
  • LL.B. (JD), Hastings College of the Law
  • B.A., University of Redlands

Counsel Comments

    “[Judge Smith was] able to take the cares and sorrows of interesting, sometimes very complex, clients and communicate to them that their outcome would be just.”

    - Prominent OC Attorney

    "I enjoy my work. I hope that's apparent to the parties and attorneys I deal with. I believe it makes their jobs easier."

    - Judge Smith

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