Hon. Charles Margines (Ret.) joined JAMS after more than 23 years as a judge on the Orange County Superior Court and, for the five years prior to that, as a municipal court judge. Judge Margines was the assistant presiding judge of the Superior Court for two years and presiding judge for three years. As presiding judge, he guided the court’s 144 judicial officers and approximately 1,500 non-judicial staff in a time of challenging fiscal difficulties with a steady hand and sound decision-making. Judge Margines also served on the Court’s Appellate Division for approximately six and a half years, including two years as its presiding judge.
Judge Margines is known for his legal knowledge, work ethic, fairness and calm demeanor.
Judge Margines quickly adapted to presiding over motions and trials, and conducting settlement conferences, in a virtual setting. He is available to conduct mediations and arbitrations and to act as a referee, special master and hearing officer.
- Attorneys' Fees
- Handled matter in which 12 days after receiving a cashier’s check for nearly $13M from debtor, judgment creditor filed a motion for post-judgment costs, including attorneys’ fees. The issue was whether the judgment was deemed satisfied in full upon tender of the entire amount by cashier’s check, or whether full satisfaction must await the resolution of the motion for post-judgment costs. This judge ruled that the judgment was satisfied in full upon tender of the cashier’s check, rendering untimely the motion for post-judgment costs. The Court of Appeal affirmed in a published decision (Gray1 CPB LLC v. SCC Acquisitions((2014), 233 Cal.App.4th 882).
- Handled attorneys’ fees bench trial in which an attorney represented a client in a lawsuit that went to trial and resulted in a verdict in favor of client for approximately $14.5M. Subsequently, defendant in the lawsuit settled the matter by paying $4.1M. Attorney had presented client with a contingency fee agreement calling for payment to attorney of 50% of the judgment or settlement.
- Business Commercial
- Handled case in which a lawsuit was brought by a new-vehicle dealer against the manufacturer. Plaintiff claimed that defendant breached their contract by refusing to renew the lease on which the dealership had been operating and by selling the land to a third party. The case went to a jury trial on a single cause of action for violation of the Automobile Dealers’ Day in Court Act (15 U.S.C. 1222).
- Handled case involving boyfriend and girlfriend falling out, following which the girlfriend claimed that the boyfriend had promised her a 1/3 ownership of his business in return for performing various tasks on behalf of the business. The case proceeded to jury trial on the girlfriend’s quantum meruit claim.
- Handled case in which plaintiff, a general contractor, entered into a contract with the State Compensation Insurance Fund, as owner, to construct a building. Plaintiff entered into a contract with one of its subcontractors, which obligated the subcontractor to abide by the same terms and conditions of the contract between the general contractor and the owner. A subsequent audit by the California Department of Industrial Relations disclosed that the subcontractor failed to pay its employees the correct wages and imposed on plaintiff a wage and penalty assessment of more than $200K. This lawsuit, by the general contractor against the subcontractor to recoup the assessment, followed.
- Handled case in which a corporation and its sole shareholder were guarantors on a loan by a bank and did not pay the bank when the borrower defaulted on the loan. A jury trial resulted in a verdict for the bank, and the guarantors appealed, alleging the court instructed the jury incorrectly. The Court of Appeal affirmed in a published decision (SCC Acquisitions v. Central Pacific Bank(2012), 207 Cal.App.4th 859).
- Handled jury trial for lawsuit alleging breach of commercial lease and conversion involving the lease by defendants of car wash equipment, which was financed by plaintiff.
- Handled court trial for complaint alleging breach of contract, forcible detainer and conversion. Plaintiff entered into a long-term lease of a coin-operated washer and dryer, which it installed in defendant’s four-unit apartment building. Defendant stopped making payments on the lease when the automatic increases in the lease payments greatly exceeded defendant’s income from the use of the machines.
- Handled Song-Beverly Act (Lemon Law) case involving a used vehicle. Plaintiff alleged that he purchased a used automobile from an authorized dealership, that the vehicle developed a number of problems and that the problems were not remedied after a reasonable number of attempts. Defendant countered that the vehicle was purchased for use by plaintiff’s brother-in-law; thus, plaintiff lacked standing to assert any claims against defendant.
- Handled matter in which plaintiff was appointed as the superintendent of the Westminster Unified School District, the first Vietnamese-American in the United States to achieve that honor. One week later, the school board rescinded her appointment. Plaintiff sued defendant for, inter alia, defamation and intentional interference with contractual relations. Plaintiff alleged that defendant accused her of being inexperienced, unqualified for the position she obtained and a communist. The Court of Appeal affirmed the decision in a published opinion (Nguyen-Lam v. Cao (2009), 171 Cal.App.4th 858).
- Handled court trial for matter in which plaintiffs’ lawsuit alleged six causes of action—defamation, breach of oral contract, breach of fiduciary duty, fraud, intentional interference with prospective economic advantage and unlawful business practices—against a business entity and individuals associated with it. Plaintiffs had been the owners and operators of a mortgage loan origination business that advertised to obtain borrowers who are interested in obtaining mortgage loans. Plaintiffs then referred the loan applications to defendant mortgage lender, which in turn funded and sold the loans to investors. Plaintiffs alleged that defendants did not pay the fees owed to them and that they were defamed by one of the individual defendants, who knowingly and intentionally stated to others the lie that one of the plaintiffs had been ordered by the FTC to permanently refrain from having anything to do with mortgage lending.
- Handled matter in which plaintiff and defendant were feuding neighbors. Unbeknownst to plaintiff, defendant allegedly assumed her identity on the MySpace social site and advertised free sexual services. Plaintiff’s complaint alleged defamation, false light, IIED, misappropriation of likeness and gender violence.
- Handled matter in which defendant, owner of a wig shop, sold a wig to plaintiff. Plaintiff sued defendant in small claims court for misrepresentation and prevailed. Defendant then accused plaintiff on various websites, such as Ripoffreport.com and Yelp, of, inter alia, accepting bribes at her work in the city’s planning department. Plaintiff’s complaint in this bench trial included causes of action for libel, false light, IIED and NIED. Judgment was affirmed on appeal in a published decision (Sanders v. Walsh, 219 Cal.App.4th 855).
- Handled jury trial for matter in which plaintiffs were in the business of purchasing luxury automobiles and reselling them in China. They were allegedly defrauded by a man to whom they paid money but who never completed the paperwork necessary to transfer title to them. As a result, they owned a vehicle they could not export or resell. Plaintiffs filed a lawsuit against an automobile dealership and its general manager, alleging that the manager acted in concert with the actual thief to deprive them of ownership of the vehicle.
- Employment Law
- Handled harassment matter in which plaintiff sued a corporation and two of his supervisors. He claimed that in the six years he was employed by the corporation, he performed well, receiving commendations and promotions, and he alleged that during that period, he was harassed and discriminated against because of his status as a veteran and was eventually constructively discharged. The defense alleged that plaintiff’s performance began to suffer when he enrolled in law school, where he took evening courses that caused him to have to miss portions of the workday and take time off for exams.
- Handled discrimination matter involving a plaintiff whose familial ancestry was from India, alleging he was discriminated against and harassed by two supervisors at the company where he was employed. In addition, plaintiff claims he was not provided his full lunch hour; was required to work one to two hours per week from home without pay, in addition to his full-time employment; and was forced to attend after-hours group meetings lasting 30 minutes, also without pay.
- Handled matter in which plaintiff had been employed by defendant company as a baker. His lawsuit contained causes of action for various Labor Code violations, retaliation, harassment and wrongful termination.
- Handled matter in which plaintiff, an at-will media relations employee in the district attorney’s office, sued the county and the district attorney for violation of the whistleblower protections in Labor Code § 1102.5, wrongful termination and defamation. She claimed that she was terminated for objecting to what she viewed as unconstitutional actions by the district attorney in not cooperating with journalists and media outlets that reported unfavorably on him. The lawsuit went to jury trial, and after both sides rested, defendants moved for a directed verdict. In an unpublished decision, the Court of Appeal affirmed the decision made in the trial court.
- Handled jury trial for harassment matter involving a female employed at a law firm who sued the firm and one of its male partners for, inter alia, sexual harassment, retaliation and wrongful termination.
- Handled matter in which 59-year-old plaintiff, a district loss prevention manager for a national clothing chain, alleged that he was discriminated against by defendant clothing chain due to his age and disability, that defendant allegedly created a hostile work environment and that it wrongfully terminated plaintiff’s employment. Defendant contended that it received complaints from nine of plaintiff’s co-workers about his inappropriate and unprofessional behavior and his cultivation of a fear of retaliation and a hostile work environment.
- Handled complex bench trial involving two consolidated cases. The plaintiff, a real property holding company, alleged that husband and wife defendants forged and recorded documents purporting to give them title to a number of high-end residences in Orange County owned by plaintiff. Thereafter, defendants borrowed large sums of money, which loans were secured by deeds of trust encumbering the properties. The loans were not repaid. In addition to suing the husband and wife, plaintiff sued other people and entities that had any connection to the transactions: title companies, escrow companies, the parties who loaned the money to the husband and wife, brokers, etc. They in turn filed numerous cross-complaints for indemnity, contribution, etc.
- Handled jury trial for matter in which plaintiffs were two corporations that owned and operated two new-vehicle dealerships as well as the individual who owned the dealerships. Defendant was the U.S. distributor of the new vehicles. Plaintiffs alleged that certain vehicles experienced unintended acceleration issues and that the plaintiffs developed a service that allowed dealerships to improve the task of contacting owners of the affected vehicles concerning the recall that defendant had instituted. Plaintiffs alleged that defendant retaliated against them by “freezing out” the individual plaintiffs as authorized dealers, resulting in the dealerships losing millions of dollars.
- Handled jury trial for matter involving a plaintiff who was one of four partners who owned a corporation. The plaintiff sued the other three partners for, inter alia, fraud, conversion and breach of fiduciary duty. In essence, plaintiff claimed that negotiations for the sale of the corporation with two much larger companies took place behind his back.
- Handled matter in which plaintiff sued defendant auto dealer, alleging that in negotiating the purchase of a vehicle, salespersons at the dealership misrepresented the value of a trade-in and the monthly payments on the purchased vehicle.
- Handled jury trial in which plaintiff, as co-trustee of a marital trust, loaned $6M to a company owned by an individual who was in the business of creating stretch limousines from Lincoln and Hummer vehicles. Plaintiff made the loan in reliance on the individual defendant’s representations that the company was in sound financial health and growing. Plaintiff alleged that these representations were false.
- Handled court trial for matter in which complaint alleged that defendants defrauded plaintiffs in inducing them to invest in nail salons by misrepresenting the cost of purchasing, viability and anticipated returns on the investment.
- Personal Injury Torts
- Handled wrongful death jury trial in which decedent, a teenager, attended defendant behavior treatment center. He had a physical condition that caused him to put large quantities of food in his mouth and attempt to swallow without chewing. Staff was aware of the condition. On an outing to a local park, he was allegedly not watched and began to choke on his food. Attempts to dislodge the food and administer aid were unsuccessful, and he died.
- Handled jury trial in which plaintiff, whose blood alcohol level was more than three times the legal limit, fell off a second-story balcony of a motel, landing on his head and sustaining a traumatic brain injury.
- Handled jury trial in which the employee of a restaurant, acting within the course and scope of her employment, allegedly ran a stop sign and was struck by another vehicle. The impact sent the employee’s vehicle toward a coned-off area in the intersection. Plaintiff, working in the construction area, was struck by the employee’s vehicle and suffered catastrophic injuries.
- Handled matter in which plaintiff alleged he was in the clubhouse of the apartment building where he was a tenant. He and the guest of another tenant became embroiled in a dispute that eventually became physical, and plaintiff was injured. He sued the landlord, the tenant whose guest injured him and the security company hired by the landlord. Plaintiff alleged negligence and premises liability against the landlord and security company.
- Handled matter in which the plaintiff was a 5-year-old special education student at a public school. The plaintiff was playing on playground equipment at the school, which included a vertical pole. He slid down the pole to the ground and was injured. Through his guardian ad litem, he sued the school district for public entity liability, failure to supervise and failure to perform a mandatory duty.
- Handled personal injury action in which plaintiff was walking on a sidewalk when she tripped and fell, causing personal injuries. Her complaint against the city alleged causes of action for dangerous condition of public property and vicarious liability for acts and omissions of public employees. The city’s defense was that the incident occurred on a portion of a roadway that is not part of the typical path of pedestrian travel and that the defect in the roadway was trivial.
- Handled jury trial for wrongful death matter involving a high school student who had documented emotional problems. The student wished to attend prom but was told by the principal that he needed to return library books by a certain date or he would not be permitted to purchase tickets to the prom. Student then had a fit of rage that led to 911 calls. In the emergency room, the student was placed under psychiatric evaluation and fell to his death after climbing a wall while escaping. Lawsuit was brought by his mother against the school, the vice principal, the police, the hospital and the company that employed the security guard at the psychiatric evaluation.
- Handled many auto collision and slip-and-fall matters, as both bench trials and jury trials.
- Professional Liability
- Handled case in which plaintiff, in her late 70s, sustained a fall at her home and was transported to an ER. There, physicians and other medical professionals allegedly failed to conduct appropriate tests, misdiagnosed her condition and failed to prescribe proper treatment.
- Handled matter involving plaintiff who sought tax advice from defendants, who were tax professionals. Defendants allegedly recommended that plaintiffs file amended tax returns, which would result in substantial refunds from the IRS. Plaintiffs followed defendants’ advice, and eventually the IRS conducted an audit. Plaintiffs also alleged that defendants did not properly represent them at the audit. Eventually, the IRS assessed additional taxes, interest and penalties totaling approximately $2.3M.
- Handled matter in which plaintiff claimed she retained defendants, a medical group and one of its physicians, to perform a procedure on her face, neck and chest using a medical laser device. She alleged the treatment resulted in severe pain, suffering, scarring and disfigurement.
- Handled jury trial in which plaintiff, successor-in-interest to her deceased 81-year-old husband, sued a hospital and a physician for, inter alia, gross negligence and elder abuse. The physician and hospital staff allegedly so grossly neglected the deceased that he fell off the operating table on which he had been placed preparatory to placement of a pacemaker and while he was under sedation.
- Handled dental malpractice jury trial in which plaintiff sued his dentist, claiming dental implants were placed improperly, resulting in constant pain.
- Real Estate & Real Property
- Handled breach of contract lawsuit in which plaintiffs, would-be purchasers of a home, sued their real estate agent. Plaintiffs claimed the agent persuaded them to rescind their purchase offer, after which defendant purchased the home.
- Handled matter where plaintiffs retained defendants to conduct a geological inspection of a residence. Defendants’ report concluded that the original slab had not been level, accounting for the uneven flooring, but that otherwise the property did not exhibit indications of changes to the ground upon which the house stood. In reliance on the geological inspection report, plaintiffs purchased the home. They later discovered that the property was suffering from geological instability and that it would cost up to $500K to repair and stabilize the property.
- Handled lawsuit over construction defects in a single-family residence, with causes of action for breach of contract, fraud, Business and Professions Code § 17200 and negligence.
- Following the adoption of a resolution of necessity by the city council, the city commenced action against the owners of a building and adjoining land to acquire the property to serve as its city hall. In a bench trial, this judge found that the city was entitled to condemn the property. A jury trial followed on the issue of “just compensation.”
- Handled a bench trial concerning covenants, conditions and restrictions (CC&Rs) in an upscale development regarding a provision that guaranteed everyone views of the ocean. A number of neighbors had planted palm trees on their properties, which grew and eventually blocked some views. Because trimming the trees would effectively require their removal, the homeowners’ association (HOA) took the position that the provision requiring that trees be trimmed so as not to exceed the height of the roof on the property where they are located did not apply to palm trees. The affected neighbors sued the association and its board of directors to enforce the view provision. The Court of Appeal affirmed the decision (Ekstrom v. Marquesa at Monarch Beach(2008), 168 Cal.App.4th 1111).
- Handled a bench trial in which plaintiff purchased an undeveloped lot. The HOA board demanded that he install landscaping, citing its CC&Rs, which required such installation within 180 days of completion of a house on a lot. Plaintiff took the position that the 180-day clock doesn’t begin to run until a house is built. The HOA disagreed, and plaintiff filed a lawsuit seeking declaratory relief. This was affirmed on appeal in an unpublished decision.
- Trade Secrets
- Handled a bench trial in which defendant had been employed by plaintiff, a manufacturer of buses. Defendant left the business and began a competing business, giving it the same name as plaintiff’s business. Plaintiff’s lawsuit alleged misappropriation of trade secrets, breach of fiduciary duty, accounting, permanent injunction and conversion.
- Handled a case in which plaintiff sued for misappropriation of trade secrets, intentional interference with prospective economic advantage, breach of contract and breach of the implied duty of good faith and fair dealing. Eventually, plaintiff voluntarily dismissed the action. Defendant then filed a motion for attorneys’ fees and costs, arguing that the underlying lawsuit was objectively frivolous. This was affirmed on appeal in a published decision (SASCO v. Rosendin Electric, Inc. (2012) 207 Cal.App.4th 837).
(Please note: All listed matters were handled before Judge Margines on the Orange County Superior Court.)
Honors, Memberships, and Professional Activities
Memberships and Affiliations
- Judicial Advisory Board, Orange County Chapter, Association of Business Trial Lawyers
- California State Bar
- Orange County Bar Association
- California Judges Association
- Trial Court Presiding Judges Advisory Committee
- Trial Court Budget Advisory Committee
- Fiscal Planning Subcommittee
- Peter M. Elliott Inn of Court
- Co-Chair, Gender Equity Committee, Orange County Bar Association, 1996–1998
- Participated in writing the brochure “Eliminating Gender Bias in the Legal Profession,” which was distributed to all California attorneys and judicial officers
- Admitted to practice before the United States Supreme Court and the Central District of California
Selected Awards and Honors
- Judge of the Year, Orange County Celtic Bar Association, 2020
- Civility Award, Orange County Chapter, American Board of Trial Advocates, 2010
- Judge of the Year, Business Litigation Section, Orange County Bar Association, 2009
Teaching and Speaking Engagements
- Presiding Judges and Court Executive Officers Management Institute
- Keynote Speaker, Association of Southern California Defense Counsel
- Keynote Speaker, California Association of Pretrial Services
- Lectured on a variety of civil litigation topics, including summary judgments, law and motion, evidence and real estate
- “Last Dash” continuing education programs presented by the Orange County Bar Association
- “Teachers Law School” program presented by the Orange County Superior Court
- Mock Trial Program
- Coached local high school team for 11 years
- Presided over numerous sessions and was attorney scorer
- Presided over numerous sessions of Peer Court
- Spoke to middle school and high school students on various legal topics, including MADD’s Sober Prom program
- Certified as a Specialist in Criminal Law by the Board of Legal Specialization of the State Bar of California, 1992
- Community College Instructor Credential (lifetime) in the subject matter area of Law, California Community Colleges System, 1976
Background and Education
- Orange County Superior Court, 1998–2021
- Presiding Judge, 2016–2018
- Assistant Presiding Judge, 2014–2015
- Member, Appellate Division, 2003–2008, 2012–2013
- Presiding Judge, 2007–2008
- Judge, 1998–2021
- Judge, Central Orange County Municipal Court, 1993–1998
- Solo Practitioner, 1981–1993
- Deputy Public Defender, Orange County, 1975–1981
- J.D., UCLA School of Law, 1974
- Officer, Moot Court Honors Program
- B.A., English, UCLA, 1970
- “Your Honor, [I] wanted to send a note thanking you for your time and preparation both times we have worked together. Both times we’ve worked together, I have laid difficult disputes to resolve at your feet. And, both times we’ve come out the other side with additional information that has brought the sides closer together. I promise to work with you in the future on a case that is postured to settle and that one will resolve during our session. In the meantime, we’ll keep working on these, but I wanted to you to know I really appreciated your time, attention to detail, and approach to resolution. Thank you."
- “Thanks for your great work and help today in resolving that matter."
- “The thing that stands out in my mind is that he is an extraordinarily fair-minded, smart and careful judge. He runs an efficient courtroom . . . but is very friendly, very inviting, very polite to everybody. I think he strikes the perfect balance.”
- Name Partner, Top OC Trial Boutique Law Firm
- “He knows the law really well.”
- California Judge Reviews
- “He’s brilliant.”
- California Judge Reviews
- “He’s a bright guy. It seems as though he works pretty hard making the right decision.”
- California Judge Reviews
- “He pays attention. He’s very bright. He is the epitome of a great judge.”
- California Judge Reviews
- “Judge Margines has no biases . . . I think both sides appreciate him equally.”
- California Judge Reviews
- “He provides rulings that are well reasoned and thoroughly researched. I get the impression that he pays quite a bit of attention to law and motion matters so that he’s doing the right thing and following the applicable law.”
- California Judge Reviews
- “I think he’s very thoughtful. He tries to research and do a good, thorough analysis of things.”
- California Judge Reviews
- “He is ‘user-friendly’ and accommodating; for example, if there are scheduling difficulties during trial.”
- California Judge Reviews
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