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Richard McAdams

Hon. Richard J. McAdams (Ret.)

Case Manager
Josephine Care
T: 408-346-0737
F: 408-295-5267
160 W. Santa Clara St., Suite 1600, San Jose, CA 95113


Hon. Richard J. McAdams (Ret.) joined JAMS after his retirement from the Court of Appeal, Sixth Appellate District.  Justice McAdams applies over 40 years of cumulative legal knowledge and experience in his approach to ADR. His exceptional 34-year judicial career began in 1977, hearing civil and small claims matters on the Santa Cruz County Municipal Court, where he was appointed Presiding Judge on four separate occasions. Prior to his election to the Superior Court in 1998, Justice McAdams was assigned full-time to the Superior Court family law calendar from 1994-1998. Thereafter, he handled the probate and civil department calendars for an additional five years in Superior Court. In 2003, Justice McAdams was elevated to the Sixth District Court of Appeal, where he served over seven years before joining JAMS.

In addition to his court duties, Justice McAdams is well regarded as one of the most notable and accomplished judges on California’s Appellate bench for his engagement and leadership in judicial education and administration throughout his career.

Justice McAdams’ appellate expertise in addressing, developing, and shaping uncharted law in civil, commercial, and insurance law, as well as environmental and land-use disputes, combined with his research, writing, and managerial skills make him well-suited for arbitrations. His intellectual curiosity and creativity, as well as his compassionate demeanor and humane approach to dispute resolution, will benefit parties in highly emotional and contentious mediations, such as family law, personal injury, and elder care disputes.

ADR Experience and Qualifications

  • Mediated and resolved hundreds of civil, probate, and family law cases during his 26 years in the Superior Court of Santa Cruz County; instrumental in the creation of the court’s judicial mediation program; early leader in ADR judicial education programs
  • Championed the benefits of mediation after joining the appellate bench, where he played a significant role in creating the Sixth District Mediation Program; personally mediated cases with pending appeals
  • Has served as a mediator, arbitrator, referee/special master, neutral evaluator and mock trial/appellate argument participant in scores of cases in a wide variety of practice areas
  • Founded the Senior Citizens Legal Services, a nationally recognized non-profit law office specializing in elder law and seniors’ issues, which became a model project for similar services around the country

Representative Matters

  • Appellate Review: mediation, arbitration, neutral evaluation and mock argument participant in cases involving business, healthcare, construction defect, real property, land use and governmental agency disputes, as well as personal injury, professional negligence, probate, and family law matters; successfully resolved cases with pending appeals; “mock panelist” in appellate argument presentations that led to successful outcomes; served as an appellate panelist under JAMS Optional Arbitration Appeal Procedures.
  • Business/Commercial/Trade Secrets:
    • Arbitration and mediation of a variety of commercial disputes, including breach of contract claims; partnership dissolutions; disputes between corporations over misappropriation of trade secrets and other confidential information; construction contract disputes between private developers, government entities and general contractors; and disputes over the purchase, development and operation of businesses and services.
    • Arbitration of a variety of consumer law cases involving federal and state law (see Consumer Law below).
    • Arbitration of contract disputes between high-tech companies in Silicon Valley and foreign and out-of-state domestic companies.
    • Arbitration and mediation of internal business organization disputes, including law firms (dissolution, merger and other partnership issues), physicians in a medical group and non-profit organizations.
    • Arbitration and mediation of agricultural disputes: conciliation/mediation between growers and processors to set crop prices; mediation of issues involving various crops, wineries and wholesale vendors.
  • Church/Religious Institutions: mediation of wrongful termination claim between teacher and religious school; mediation of internal dispute among church members; mediation of wrongful termination and defamation claims after discharge of clergyman
  • Construction: arbitration of major hotel construction dispute; settlement of a construction contract dispute between school district and general contractor pending appeal of a $2.5M jury verdict; settlement of a residential construction defect case after judgment in interpleader action; mediation in a construction/design defect case pending appeal of motion granting a new trial after a $2.4M jury verdict; arbitration of dispute between home owner and contractor for alleged breach of contract and construction defects in $750K remodel
  • Consumer Law: arbitration and mediation experience in all aspects of consumer law including violations of the California Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (“Rosenthal Act”); the federal Fair Debt Collection Practices Acts (FDCPA); the federal Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA); the California Consumer Legal Remedies Act (CLRA); the federal Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA); California Consumer Credit Reporting Agencies Act (CCRAA); the California Identity Theft Act;  California Automobile Sales Finance Act (ASFA; formerly “Rees-Levering Act”); the California Vehicle Leasing Act; the federal Truth in Lending Act; and California’s Unfair Competition Law (Bus.& Prof. C. §17200); successfully mediated statewide class action on behalf of homeowners claiming mortgage-relief/loan modification fraud committed by multiple individual and corporate defendants
  • Education/Schools: mediation of dispute between charter school and school district over facilities and funding; mediation of wrongful termination claim between teacher and religious school
  • Employment: arbitration and mediation of employee claims against private and public entities and religious institutions for wrongful termination and constructive discharge, discrimination (race, disability, gender, sexual orientation, religion, ethnicity and national origin), harassment, hostile work environment, retaliation, failure to accommodate, failure to engage in an interactive process, wage claims, overtime and rest period claims; mediation of fraud action by terminated CEO pending appeal of judgment awarding compensatory and punitive damages; arbitration of termination benefits claims of departing executive
  • Environmental/Land Use: experience in all aspects of environmental and land use disputes; mediation of suit brought by a State agency against a County and a private developer alleging CEQA violations; neutral evaluation of CEQA mandamus action brought by community group over an expansion project of a local transportation district; neutral evaluations of non-CEQA environmental litigation
  • Estates/Probate/Trusts: Mediation and court references in high-conflict inter-family cases involving property distribution, division of life insurance proceeds and issues of trust management, undue influence, elder abuse and related claims; the resolution of several complex matters, including a decades-old multi-million dollar disputes among siblings, competing claims in a high-end restaurant after the founder-father’s death, a probate matter involving the law of California, Monaco and Iran and a claim of Elder Financial Abuse and a bank’s duty to prevent fraud by others
  • Family Law: In addition to serving as a family law judge in the trial court and authoring several appellate opinions on family law issues: mediation and arbitration of disputes involving all aspects of family law - property division, business valuation, custody and visitation, child and spousal support, termination of a Domestic Partnership, “Marvin” issues, post-judgment issues and attorney fees; appointed as a Temporary Judge by the superior court in family law cases
  • Government/Public Entities: Served as Arbitrator under California Revenue and Taxation Code section 99(e) concerning a proposed City annexation of property within a County; mediation of dispute between a  city and a county over jail facilities; mediation of dispute between State agency and a county over approval of development plan impacting claimed State interests; mediation of dispute between two water agencies; mediation between County and commercial property owner over claims of use permit and grading permit violations and other code enforcement issues, with counterclaims for inverse condemnation and indemnity; mediation between County and investment company over taxation issues arising after merger of companies with multimillion dollar real estate holdings; mediation of a construction contract dispute between school district and general contractor pending appeal of a $2.5M jury verdict; mediation of dispute between charter school and school district over facilities and funding
  • Health Care: mediation between a physician-run network of several hundred doctors and a multi-state hospital organization; mediation involving the physicians in a medical group; mediation and arbitration of claims of medical malpractice; mediation of a dispute concerning placement of a severely developmentally disabled child; mediation between a nursing home and state regulators
  • Personal Injury/Torts:  mediation of all categories of wrongful death and personal injury cases including auto accidents, medical/dental malpractice, premises liability, product liability, and defamation; arbitration of premises liability cases; neutral evaluation of catastrophic death and injury case; settled case with multiple defendants involving injuries caused by improperly assembled home entertainment center 
  • Professional Liability: mediation and arbitration of attorney-client fee disputes and claims of attorney malpractice arising from estate planning services, business transactions, family law matters and general litigation; mediation of malpractice claims against veterinarian and an animal hospital after death of pedigreed dog and puppies; arbitration of medical malpractice claims involving physicians, nurses and hospitals.    
  • Real Property: bench and mediator/arbitrator experience in all facets of residential and commercial real property law; mediation and arbitration of failure to disclose, fraud, and misrepresentation claims between buyer and seller; claims against real estate brokers; land use and zoning issues; easements; tax disputes; warranty of habitability claims; arbitration between buyers and sellers and brokers for specific performance; arbitration of real estate investment partnership dispute.
  • “Appellate Justice of the Year,” Santa Clara County Trial Lawyers Association, 2010
  • Member, California Judges Association, 1977-present
    • Civil Law & Procedures Committee, 2000-2003
    • Family Law Committee, 1995-1997
    • Discipline and Disability Committee, 1992-1995
    • Executive Board, 1989-1992
    • Courts & Technology Committee, 1988-1989
    • Judicial Elections Committee, 1987-1988
    • Courts Administration Committee, 1986-1987
  • "An Appealing Approach," Daily Journal, ADR Profile, March 2, 2012
  • Appellate Justice, Sixth District Court of Appeal, 2003-2011
  • Superior Court Judge, Santa Cruz County, 1998-2003
  • Municipal Court Judge, Santa Cruz County, 1977-1998
    • Assigned to Superior Court, 1994-1998
    • Presiding Judge, 1980, 1984, 1987, and 1990
  • Founding Partner, Fox McAdams and Popin, 1974-1977
  • Solo practice, 1973
  • Attorney, Legal Aid Society of Santa Cruz, 1970-1973
    • Acting Director, 1973
  • Attorney, Jarvis, Miller and Stender, 1969-1970
  • J.D., Hastings College of Law, 1968 
  • B.A., University of California, Berkeley, 1965




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