Hon. James L. Smith (Ret.)

T: 714-939-1300
F: 714-939-8710
Special Master/Discovery Referee

Judge Smith has extensive experience working closely with courts and litigants as a general and discovery referee, as well as a special master. Having spent 27 years on the bench, he brings a working knowledge of handling large and complex matters as both a judge and full time neutral.

He has served as a referee and special master in a wide variety of complex litigation matters, including disputes involving trade secret, home mortgage, major pension fund fraud, construction defect, trust and estate, and product liability issues.

Representative Matters

  • Special master for accounting issues related to crafts industry arbitration 
  • Accounting referee for large arbitration case regarding award of major city contract for waste collection and disposal 
  • E-Discovery master for major commercial dispute regarding copyright and trade secret violations of popular toy 
  • Hearing officer for large city for disputes related to medicinal marijuana 
  • Discovery referee for complex fraud cases 
  • Court reference for numerous employment disputes 
  • Discovery referee for disputes related to mortgage fraud 
  • Special Master for auditing and writ of possession related to matching up invoices and serial numbers with hospital equipment 
  • Discovery referee for countless construction defect disputes 
  • E-Discovery referee for many large federal disputes

Honors, Memberships, and Professional Activities

  • 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

Background and Education

  • 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

Disclaimer

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