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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, such as in environmental and land-use disputes involving governmental agencies and regulations, 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, or referee/special master 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 has become a model project for similar services around the country

Representative Matters

  • Appellate Review: mediation, arbitration, and neutral evaluation of cases, including business, healthcare, construction defect, real property, and governmental agency disputes, as well as personal injury, probate, and family law matters
  • Business/Commercial/Trade Secrets: mediation of dispute between two corporations over misappropriation of trade secrets and other confidential information; mediation of a construction contract dispute between school district and general contractor pending appeal of a $2.5M jury verdict; mediated multi-party dispute over the purchase, development and operation of a winery; arbitration of dispute involving radio program marketing services
  • 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: 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: experience in all aspects of consumer law; served as arbitrator hearing claims of violation of federal and California consumer laws and California UCL; 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: mediation of store manager’s claims of violations of wage and hour laws by retail pharmacy; mediation of fraud action by terminated CEO pending appeal of judgment awarding compensatory and punitive damages; mediation of wrongful termination claim between teacher and religious school; mediation of wrongful termination and defamation claims after the discharge of a clergyman; settled wrongful termination case involving claim of discrimination based on disability 
  • 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
  • Estates/Probate/Trusts: mediation of 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
  • Family Law: mediation and arbitration of disputes involving property division, custody and visitation, child and spousal support, termination of a Domestic Partnership, “Marvin” issues, post-judgment issues, and attorney fees
  • Government/Public Entities: 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: arbitration of claims of medical malpractice; mediation of a dispute concerning placement of a severely developmentally disabled child
  • 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 case; neutral evaluation of catastrophic death and injury case; settled case with multiple defendants involving injuries caused by improperly assembled home entertainment center 
  • Professional Liability: arbitration of attorney client dispute including claims of attorney malpractice in business dispute; arbitration of attorney malpractice action arising from estate planning services; mediation of malpractice claims against veterinarian and an animal hospital after death of pedigreed dog and puppies; arbitration of malpractice claims against attorney in a family law matter   
  • 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; tax disputes; warranty of habitability claims; mediation of buyer's action against seller and agent for breach of contract and concealment with related counterclaims after failed real estate transaction 
  • “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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