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Hon. Sandra Margulies (Ret.)

Hon. Sandra Margulies (Ret.)

General Biography
Practice Areas
Business Commercial
Employment Law
Entertainment & Sports
Estate Probate Trusts
Governmental & Public Agency
Personal Injury/Torts
Professional Liability
Real Estate
Honors, Memberships, and Professional Activities
Background and Education

Hon. Sandra Margulies (Ret.) joins JAMS following a 38-year judicial career. Justice Margulies served for nearly 22 years on the California Court of Appeal, First Appellate District, Division One; more than 16 years on the Alameda County Superior Court; and three years on the San Leandro-Hayward Municipal Court. As a judge on the Superior Court, Justice Margulies managed a wide-ranging civil caseload, including civil trials, law and motion, and probate. Whether handling civil or trust and estate matters, she concentrated on resolving and settling the cases before trial. This experience, in addition to the vast number of appellate civil cases she has resolved, has allowed Justice Margulies to develop a fair and objective approach in evaluating disputes. She is known for her detailed preparation, organization and focus. She approaches each case with respect and empathy for the parties and their attorneys. She has a reputation for her calm and even-handed demeanor.

Justice Margulies has an interest and experience in the following practice areas: trusts and estates, conservatorships, elder abuse, business/commercial, education, employment, entertainment/sports, governments/public agencies, personal injury, professional liability (medical and legal malpractice) and real estate. 

Justice Margulies has held a variety of leadership positions. She was chair of the Evaluation and Nomination Committee for State Bar Judges from 2014 to 2023, chair of the Judicial Council Criminal Jury Instruction Advisory Committee from 2006 to 2011 and chair of the First District Court of Appeal’s Personnel Committee from 2021 to 2023. Throughout her judicial career, she has been extensively involved in judicial education. She has taught courses in evidence, trials, probate, elder abuse and water law.

Justice Margulies handled matters in the following areas during her time on the bench:

Representative Matters

  • Business Commercial
      • Numerous breach of contract disputes
      • Multiple partnership dissolutions
      • Special assessment recorded as a lien by the City of Richmond for garbage fee collection and whether it violated lien law
      • Plaintiff alleged breach of contract, promissory estoppel and violation of the Unfair Competition Law (UCL) after social media site permanently suspended her account
      • Franchise agreement between public entity and waste collector
  • Employment Law
      • Numerous employment discrimination cases, including claims of gender, race, age, sexual and disability discrimination
      • Numerous wrongful discharge matters and sexual harassment and whistleblower claims
      • Private Attorneys General Act (PAGA) action alleging employers failed to include certain information on itemized wage statement
      • Employee pension benefits dispute including claims under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA)
  • Entertainment & Sports
      • Personal injury claims involving skater at ice rink; wrongful death action against university alleging that student's fall resulted from defendant's instructors' negligence
      • Compensation dispute involving a coach of a professional sports team
  • Estate Probate Trusts
      • Numerous trust, probate, conservatorship and elder abuse disputes, including assertions of lack of capacity, undue influence, trustee removal, hidden assets and breach of trust/accountings
      • Issues regarding failed transfer or lapsed gifts passed to estate or residuary beneficiary involving California Probate Code sections 21110 and 21111
      • Action to obtain priority to certain proceeds from insolvent estate's sale of real property
  • Governmental & Public Agency
      • Plaintiff filed suit against city, city manager, chief of police and council members contending that activities of city manager and city council constituted violation of Brown Act's requirement that city council meetings be open and public
      • Nonprofit public benefit corporation sought writ of mandate and declaratory relief against city and gambling companies after passage of ballot measure permitting cardroom gaming at horse racing track located on waterfront
      • California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) claim filed by historic preservation league involving demolition of a building
  • Insurance
      • Uninsured/underinsured motorist claims
      • Numerous first- and third-party insurance coverage disputes
      • Insured's alleged trade dress infringement did not trigger liability insurer's duty to defend
      • Insurer refused to pay life insurance benefits under a policy that was issued a few days before applicant died of cancer
  • Personal Injury/Torts
      • Injuries from automobile, bicycle, motorcycle, train, pedestrian and premises liability
      • Pedestrian sued property owners for injuries sustained in fall on brick walkway contained in city-owned planting strip in front of defendants' property
      • Passenger who was injured on train platform sued rapid transit district for negligence based on district's status as common carrier
      • Negligence suit under section of the Longshore and Harbor Workers’ Compensation Act (LHWCA) against employer as owner of vessel for employee of maritime construction firm
      • Asbestos claims
      • Sexual abuse claims
  • Professional Liability
      • Numerous medical, dental and legal malpractice claims
  • Real Estate
      • CEQA case challenging approval of environmental impact report for San Francisco development project
      • Purchasers brought action against realtors and broker for breach of contract and fraud in connection with purchase of residence
      • Claims of negligent misrepresentation against real estate appraiser
      • Trespass action brought by agricultural landowners against a private energy company that operated natural gas field and had installed, without plaintiffs' permission, underground pipeline that passed over right-of-way located on their land
      • Water district purchased property for construction of water pumping plant; plaintiffs filed a lawsuit seeking to rescind contract because they believed water plant would emanate too much noise
      • Rental exemption in Oakland’s residential Rent Adjustment Program Ordinance
      • Habitability issues
      • Unlawful detainer actions
      • Organization filed petition for writ of administrative mandate under CEQA challenging decisions of Regents of University of California adopting project to develop new academic, residential and parking buildings on public university campus, and certifying related final supplemental environmental impact report

Honors, Memberships, and Professional Activities

Teaching Experience

  • Segment of Judicial Water Law course discussing the authority of the California Water Resources Control Board, November/December 2023
  • Taught courses in evidence, trials, probate, elder abuse for the California Center for Judicial Education and Research

Professional Activities

  • Faculty, Water Law, Judicial Counsel of California, 2023
  • Chair, Applicant Evaluation and Nomination Committee for State Bar Judges, 2014–2023
  • Chair, Criminal Jury Instruction Advisory Committee, 2006–2011
  • Member, California Judicial Council Task Force on Jury Instructions, 1998–2005
  • Chair, Nominating Committee for Alameda and Contra Costa Counties, California Judges Association, 1999
  • Member, Executive Committee, Alameda County Superior Court, 1994–1996
  • Member, Judicial College Planning Committee, Center for Judicial Education and Research, 1992–1996
  • Faculty, California Judicial College, 1987–1993, 1998–2000
  • Faculty, New Judges Orientation Program, 1994–1996


  • Judge of the Year, Southwestern Law School, 2014

Background and Education

  • Associate Justice, First District Court of Appeal, Division One, 2002–2023
  • Judge, Alameda County Superior Court, 1988–2002
  • Judge, San Leandro-Hayward Judicial District, 1985–1988
  • Deputy District Attorney, Alameda County, 1977–1985
  • J.D., 1977, Southwestern University School of Law
  • B.A., magna cum laude, Phi Beta Kappa, University of California, Los Angeles, 1974


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