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Hon. Risë Jones Pichon

Hon. Risë Jones Pichon (Ret.)

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Upcoming Events
General Biography
Practice Areas
Business Commercial
Employment Law
Estate Probate Trusts
Family Law
Higher Education & Title IX
Personal Injury
Honors, Memberships, and Professional Activities
Background and Education

Hon. Risë Jones Pichon (Ret.) joined JAMS after a distinguished judicial career spanning more than 35 years. Most recently, Judge Pichon was a superior court judge for the County of Santa Clara for more than 20 years and was elected to serve as presiding judge of the Santa Clara County Superior Court in 2015 and 2016. Prior to this, she served as a municipal court judge from 1984 to 1998 and as a court commissioner from 1983 to 1984. Judge Pichon was elected to serve as the presiding judge of the municipal court from 1990 to 1991. She earned her Bachelor of Science in mathematics and her Juris Doctor from Santa Clara University School of Law. Judge Pichon has also received an Honorary Doctorate Degree from Santa Clara University. 

While she was a judge, Judge Pichon oversaw the completion and opening of the Family Justice Center Courthouse in San Jose. She successfully implemented a new case manager system in the criminal/felony division. Judge Pichon presided over Santa Clara County’s probate calendars and is known for her experience in the estate/probate area, which makes her uniquely qualified to serve as a mediator and arbitrator for estate/probate/trust matters. Her ability to weigh all parties’ concerns—including financial, familial and emotional—in these types of cases will also help her to resolve any type of dispute that comes before her.

Judge Pichon has a well-earned reputation for fairness, credibility and consistency, as evidenced by the many honors and awards she has received during her career, including the Lifetime Achievement Award from the Santa Clara County Trial Lawyers Association in 2019 and the Legendary Champions of Justice Award from the California Association of Black Lawyers in 2018. Judge Pichon is known among colleagues and attorneys for managing difficult situations and cases with grace and dignity, which will enable her to lead parties to resolution effectively as a neutral.

Representative Matters

  • Business Commercial
      • Handled breach of contract action based on dispute regarding the existence of an employer/employee relationship and failure to pay for services performed pursuant to the alleged agreement
      • Handled case involving complaint for reformation of articles of incorporation by shareholder based on dispute regarding the number of shares authorized to issue pursuant to the articles and for determination of status as a de facto director having authority to bind the corporation by his/her acts
      • Handled case involving complaint for damages for elder financial abuse, undue influence and negligence based on the establishment of close personal relationship by real estate brokers and using that relationship to persuade client to sign documents created with the intent to defraud him/her and violating duty of care
      • Handled breach of contract matter about failure to abide by terms of operating agreement, breach of guaranty secured by promissory note as a result of default on promissory note and conversion of property of the LLC
      • Handled matter with action for partition, appointment of receiver and sale of real property for fraudulent concealment and conversion of real and personal property, including ejection and wrongful detention of real property
  • Employment Law
      • Served as an Arbitrator in cases involving wrongful termination, non-compete clauses, and breach of employment agreements.
      • Served as a Mediator in cases involving wage and hour, constructive discharge, and retaliation.
      • Served as an Arbitrator in cases involving misclassification, employment discrimination. and declaratory relief.
      • Served as Arbitrator for case involving claims of retaliation, discrimination, and wrongful termination. Other claims included breach of expressed and implied contract and violation, unpaid wages upon discharge, and request for declaratory relief. 
      • Served as Arbitrator for claims of age discrimination involving layoffs and hirings.
      • Served as Arbitrator for claims of discrimination based on disability/perceived disability. Other claims including failure to accommodate disability and to prevent discrimination, retaliation, wrongful termination, failure to engage in interactive process. 
      • Served as Arbitrator for claims of pregnancy discrimination, sex discrimination and constructive termination of employment and retaliation.
      • Served as Arbitrator for claims involving wage discrimination, sex discrimination, wrongful termination, constructive discharge, and retaliation. single wage and hour matter arising under the California Labor Code .
      • Served as Arbitrator involving claims of unpaid wages for overtime work, failure to pay minimum wage and permit/make available meal and rest periods and claims for waiting time penalties.
      • Mediated dispute involving allegations of alleged violations of the education, government and labor codes, alleging including breach of contract, retaliation and discrimination. and contract related claims.
      • Mediated wage & hour case involving claims of wrongful termination, retaliation, and failure to provide rest and meal periods, and pay minimum wage. a wrongful termination claim.
      • Mediated case involving claims of discrimination based on sex and age, failure to accommodate and engage in the interactive process, retaliation, and breach of contract.
  • Estate Probate Trusts
    • Judge Pichon has a vast amount of experience handling estate/probate and trust matters. She has handled cases involving the following issues:

      • Determination of beneficiaries entitled to distribution
      • Intentional interference with inheritance
      • Breach of fiduciary duty based on mismanagement of trust or estate assets, obtaining loans under false pretenses, concealment of borrowed funds, recovery of assets and damages and misappropriation of trust assets
      • Removal or suspension of personal representative and appointment of successor
      • Petitions for reformation to conform instrument to reflect the intent of the decedent
      • Validity of trust documents, wills, amendments or restatements thereto where financial elder abuse, undue influence, fraud or lack of sufficient mental capacity at the time of execution of document are alleged
      • Cancellation of instruments due to negligent misrepresentation
      • Rescission based on fraud in the inducement, constructive fraud and mistake
      • Petitions for accounting and challenges to accountings
      • Petitions to compel personal representative to distribute assets, to convey real and personal property, for imposition of a constructive trust and to enforce terms of trust
      • Breach of implied-in-fact partnership by improperly concealing rental income from properties
      • Establishing rights under the partnership agreement and recovery of petitioner’s interests in the partnership asset
      • Petitions to compel compliance with or enforce trust agreement or settlement agreements
      • Partition actions, appointment of receiver, sale of real property, conversion, ejectment and wrongful detention of property
      • Disputes regarding establishment of conservatorships, appointment of conservator, removal of conservator, termination of conservatorship, approval of accountings, petitions for accountings, surcharge and breach of fiduciary duty
  • Family Law
      • Handled allocation of parenting time and responsibility for children with special needs and mental health issues
      • Handled creation and modification of parenting plan
      • Handled name change disputes resulting from dissolution and marriage
      • Handled disputes involving property division, real and personal property
      • Handled division of personal property collections
      • Handled disputes between parents over medical and mental health treatment for children
  • Landlord/Tenant
      • Handled unlawful detainer trials and hearings
      • Handled partition and sales of real property
      • Heard cases involving ejectment and wrongful detention
      • Handled entitlement to homestead matters
  • Personal Injury
      • Handled case involving complaint for damages for invasion of privacy, intentional infliction of emotional distress and negligence for republication of images without permission
      • Cases involving complaints for damages based on injuries from automobile accidents, with issues including liability and insurance coverage and responsibility

Honors, Memberships, and Professional Activities

Completed Virtual ADR training conducted by the JAMS Institute, the training arm of JAMS.

Memberships and Affiliations
  • Member, Board of Regents, Santa Clara University, 2017–present
  • Member, Law Advisory Board, Santa Clara University School of Law, 2017–present
  • Member, California Judges Association, 1984–present
  • Member, Board of Directors, California Judges Association, 2016–2018
  • Fellow, American Bar Foundation, 2018–present
  • Member, Judicial Division, American Bar Association, 1984–present
  • Member, Class XVIII, American Leadership Forum, 2006–present
  • Member, Board of Directors, Catholic Relief Services, 2016–present
  • Member, St. Thomas More Society, 2007–present
  • Member, Advisory Board, Santa Clara University Markkula Center for Applied Ethics, 1994–2003, 2007–present
  • Member, Judicial Council Pretrial Detention Reform Workgroup( Appointment by the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of California, 2016–2018
  • Member, Board of Regents, Archbishop Mitty High School, 2000–2006
  • Member, Presidential Blue Ribbon Commission on Diversity and Inclusion, Santa Clara University, 2016
  • Member, The Honorable William A. Ingram Inn of Court, American Inns of Court, 2013–2017

Selected Awards and Honors

  • Lifetime Achievement Award for the Santa Clara County Women’s Leadership and Policy Summit, 2024
  • Recipient of California Judge's Association President's Award, 2020
  • Honorary Doctorate Degree, Santa Clara University 
  • Lifetime Achievement Award, Santa Clara County Trial Lawyers Association, 2019
  • Legendary Champions of Justice Award, California Association of Black Lawyers, 2018
  • St. Thomas More Award, 2018
  • Black Legend Award, Silicon Valley, 2018
  • Exemplary Service Award, Charles Houston Bar Association, 2017
  • Wester Sweet Award for Legal Activism, San Jose/Silicon Valley NAACP, 2016
  • Gideon and Lifetime Achievement Award, Santa Clara County Black Lawyers Association, 2015
  • Honoree, Women Lawyers Section, Santa Clara County Bar Association, 2014
  • Honoree, Women of Influence, Silicon Valley Business Journal, 2012
  • Finalist, Woman of Excellence in Advocacy Award, Silicon Valley Chapter, National Coalition of 100 Black Women, 2012
  • Outstanding Jurist Award, Santa Clara County Bar Association, 2011
  • Social Justice and Human Rights Award, Santa Clara University School of Law, 2011
  • Judicial Honoree and Panelist, Western Region of the National Black Law Students Association Convention, 2011
  • Certificate of Recognition and Appreciation, Silicon Valley Black Leadership Kitchen Cabinet, 2010
  • Certificate of Volunteer Recognition and Appreciation, Junior League of San Jose, 2006
  • First Woman Honoree, Bench and Bar Historical Society and Women Lawyers Section, Santa Clara County Bar Association, 2007
  • Lawyer of the Year, Santa Clara University School of Law, 1994
  • Thurgood Marshall Achievement Award, Black Law Students Association, Santa Clara University School of Law, 1992
  • Woman of Distinction Award, Challenges Conference, Santa Clara University,1991
  • Certificate of Achievement, African-American Reunion Committee, Santa Clara University, 1996

Background and Education

  • Santa Clara County Superior Court, 1998–2019
    • Judge, 1998–2019
    • Presiding Judge, 2015–2016
    • Supervising Judge, Probate Division, 2017–2018
    • Supervising Judge, Criminal Division, 2012–2013
    • Assistant Supervising Judge, Criminal Division, 2010–2011
  • Santa Clara County Municipal Court, 1983–1998
    • Judge, 1984–1998
    • Presiding Judge, 1990–1991
    • Court Commissioner, 1983–1984
  • Attorney, Santa Clara County Office of the Public Defender, 1976–1979
  • Attorney, Santa Clara County Office of the County Counsel, 1979–1983
  • J.D., Santa Clara University School of Law, 1976
  • B.S., Mathematics, Santa Clara University, 1973
  • Xavier University, New Orleans, 1969–1971


This page is for general information purposes.  JAMS makes no representations or warranties regarding its accuracy or completeness.  Interested persons should conduct their own research regarding information on this website before deciding to use JAMS, including investigation and research of JAMS neutrals. See More

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