Hon. Glen M. Reiser (Ret.) has vast experience adjudicating and resolving thousands of complex commercial, real property/environmental, trust and family law disputes as a respected trial judge and litigator. Judge Reiser spent more than 20 years on the Ventura County Superior Court, serving as both supervising probate judge and California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) judge for more than a decade. Prior to his appointment to the bench, he litigated hundreds of civil cases to successful conclusion in trial and appellate courts throughout California.
Judge Reiser regularly teaches California judges trust, probate, and conservatorships through the Judicial Council of California’s Center for Judicial Education and Research (CJER).
Judge Reiser is known for using his thoroughness, intellect, attention to detail and breadth of knowledge to develop creative solutions to disputes of all types.
ADR Experience and Qualifications
- More than a decade of exclusive assignment to trust and estate matters on the bench
- More than a decade serving as the only assigned CEQA judge in Ventura County, following years of land use experience as a private attorney
- Handled large-scale civil and appellate litigation, including environmental and real property, land use, water, complex banking and commercial litigation, real property secured transactions, mass toxic torts, trust litigation, insurance coverage and contract law as a litigator
- Successfully negotiated and supervised the industry-changing mediation in Breslin v. Breslin (2021) 62 Cal. App. 5th 801, in which the California appellate courts embrace mandatory mediation in trust disputes
- Successfully mediated scores of trust, probate and conservatorship estate disputes across virtually all issues including assertions of lack of capacity, undue influence, alleged elder abuse and breach of trust/accountings
- Managed through settlement the contested trust estate of a nationally prominent burn physician whose trust amendments had become increasingly less generous to his two children
- Actively settled the contested trust estate of a noted attorney who remarried several months before his death between the new spouse and his two young daughters
- Clarified the trial court's inherent power to order an accounting in trust disputes (Christie v. Kimball (2012) 202 Cal.App.4th 1407)
- Rendered the initiating decision permitting "clawback" of trust assets where necessary to subsidize proper trust administration (Kasperbauer v. Fairfield (2009) 171 Cal.App.4th 229)
- Compelled surcharge of a trustee who had placed his own financial interests ahead of the interests of a settlor with cognitive challenges (Conservatorship of Moore (2015) 240 Cal.App.4th 1101)
- Clarified the most recent legislation where a contested trust amendment incorporated the "no contest" clause of a prior instrument solely by reference (Aviles v. Swearingen (2017) 16 Cal.App.4th 1101)
- As an attorney, successfully enforced a "no contest" clause through the California Supreme Court, where settlor's fifth wife received a cornucopia of assets by electing not to litigate (Burch v. George (1994) 7 Cal. 4th 246)
- Agricultural Business
- Successfully mediated the first party fire coverage claims of a San Joaquin Valley ranch owner
- Tried successfully through judgment an easement dispute between adjoining lemon ranch owners
- Represented several thousand crates of concentrated orange juice belonging to a major beverage company that were confiscated by the Department of Agriculture for alleged regulatory "second squeezing" violation promulgated by the Florida orange lobby
- Represented a major sod farm and other row crop farmers seeking inverse condemnation recourse from upstream entities for massive flood damage exacerbated by upstream development approvals, through trial and appellate review
- Represented for many years the farming side of a, then-publicly traded, major farming company on a variety of regulatory and land use issues, including Clean Water Act, federally endangered species and statutory streambed alteration arbitrations
- Represented a large San Francisco/San Mateo greenhouse flower grower in challenging regulatory watercourse drainage maintenance restrictions
- Represented agricultural interests with historic pesticide/herbicide practices challenged by homeowners buying in neighboring residential developments
- Represented a farmer adjacent to the Ventura River whose operations became adversely impacted by newly-imposed local regulatory limitations
- Successfully represented a citrus grower in an eminent domain action brought by a large public water agency wanting to develop on site aquifer recharge facilities and appurtenant rights [subsequently hired as general counsel for the public water agency]
- Litigated water rights for private agricultural water companies
- Represented a large provider of orchard maintenance/harvesting/co-op contracting services
- Successfully prosecuted injunctive action brought to protect an avocado orchard from further root rot damage
- As a judge, managed for many years several iterations of litigation, predominantly CEQA, involving appropriative rights issues to receive irrigation water from the Kern River, interpretation of Tulare County forfeiture rulings, and impacts to the associated subsurface aquifers, involving many tens of thousands of acres of farmland along the Kern Delta
- As a judge, managed for many years through jury trial and a multi-year injunctive phase, litigation arising from flood damage after a protective levee erected by a watercress farmer on the north bank redirected storm flows across a tangerine ranch on the south bank
- Last case as a judge was adjudicated between various San Joaquin Valley agricultural interests, in which a large water banking project sought Friant-Kern Canal rights from the Bureau of Reclamation, proposed exercise of eminent domain rights to build spreading ponds across many acres of farm land, in exchange for return irrigation water to be stored within the highly contaminated and heavily subsided Tulare Basin
- As a judge, managed many large family trusts in which ranch lands needed interim operation and management as ownership interests passed to the successive generations
- As a judge, operated and managed vineyards in Northern California pending delayed resolution of legal issues with the assistance of a receiver in Sonoma County
- As a judge, required to value avocado acreage through conflicting experts pursuant to trust distribution litigation
- As a judge, required to instruct on the economic wisdom of maintaining viticulture operations in trust management litigation
- Business & Commercial
- Arbitrated the emergency relief petition between two Silicon Valley AI start-ups over access to and use of alleged confidential information including Python source code
- Arbitrated the emergency relief petition of an android-based cellular "smartphone" manufacturer contesting violations of confidentiality provisions and nondisclosure requirements set forth in the Master Purchase Agreement with its primary manufacturer
- Arbitrated the emergency relief petition of a member of a financial services company, removed by the LLC board due to the administrative action of the Securities and Exchange Commission directed to the member's spouse
- Arbitrated the commission claims of a multi-media marketing professional in the performance of services performed on behalf of a digital marketing vendor
- Arbitrated the jewelry conversion claims of a bank customer whose safe deposit box had been drilled, bagged and shipped to New York
- Determined the non-arbitrability of claims between oncology physicians and their contracting association
- As a civil motion and trial judge, managed and adjudicated dozens of contract and transactional litigation matters at every level of complexity, including purchase and sale of business assets, construction disputes and debt collection
- Successfully litigated a months-long arbitration of non-conforming goods under a requirements contract for Air Force bomb castings
- Successfully litigated an action against a Korean manufacturer importing contaminated aloe vera intended for human consumption
- Entertainment & Sports
- Arbitrated the emergency relief petition of a popular recording artist alleging violation of a non-disparagement contract
- Managed through distribution the probate estate of the lead guitarist of a well-known 1980s band including valuation of songwriting royalties
- Served as Emergency Arbitrator and General Arbitrator in the protection of revenue stream with respect to name, voice, image and likeness, music, copyright and trademark rights for an iconic R&B producer, composer and recording artist
- Actively settled the contested probate estate of an actor whose will bequeathed his one-half share of the community property to various charities; worked out the disposition that the Academy Award decedent had refused to claim during his lifetime in favor of the surviving spouse
- Established and managed for a number of years the contested conservatorship of a young actress dealing with serious personal challenges
- Environmental Law
- Adjudicated to final resolution the consolidated 2017 environmental cases brought by cities and residents against the City of Los Angeles involving on-site and off-site modernization plans at Los Angeles International Airport
- Rendered environmental decisions involving coastal and residential and industrial development, including climate change and sea level rise
- Managed and adjudicated a lengthy inverse condemnation case where homeowners' yards cascaded down a bluff due to flood control improvements
- Served as general counsel on multiple diverse matters for a member agency of the Metropolitan Water District, including groundwater injection (water quantity), cryptosporidium issues (water quality), pipeline easement (land use) and pipeline rupture (tort) issues
- Served as environmental counsel for a municipal water district, including the removal of silt and debris from behind a dam, lake land use matters, and steelhead trout (endangered species) issues in a river
- Served as environmental counsel for a large land and farming company, including endangered species issues (least bell's video and stickleback) in and around the Santa Clara River, federal 404 permits, and 1603 permits arbitrations
- Represented a variety of clients on numerous state and federal subsurface and airborne regulatory contamination issues, including petroleum hydrocarbon removal, stripping of toxic solvents from groundwater, and elimination of airborne contaminants from manufacturing operations, including Clean Air Act, Clean Water Act and CERCLA compliance
- Represented numerous clients seeking land use entitlements through the entire CEQA process, including local administrative planning, consultation with prospective project opponents and scientific subject matter experts, scoping, EIR preparation, and public hearing
- Represented numerous clients in CEQA litigation at all trial and appellate levels, involving the full panoply of biota, air quality, hydrological, geological and archaeological and land use compatibility issues
- Successfully represented litigants challenging CEQA compliance and the associated environmental documents
- Appointed by the Superior Court for a number of years as lead counsel in mass toxic tort litigation (landowner group) where a residential subdivision was built upon an oil field waste dump (BTX and solvents), balancing multiple client interests and multiple CGL insurer concerns, including environmental coverage; successfully drafted and advocated for the initial "Cottle" motion in California
- Appointed by the district attorney as Special Prosecutor and successfully prosecuted an independent oil company for criminal negligence resulting in a catastrophic oil spill resulting in significant environmental damage to coastal wetlands, including substantial loss of avian wildlife
- Served as Ventura County's only designated CEQA judge for more than a decade, resolving numerous statewide matters involving, inter alia, air quality including greenhouse gas emissions, wetlands, surface water quality/quantity/hydrology, groundwater quality/quantity/hydrology, climate change and coastal sea level rise, migratory fowl, endangered fauna and flora, historic preservation, jet aircraft safety, noise and traffic impacts, land subsidence, agricultural impacts, and numerous other litigated environmental concerns
- Stipulated judge for various California cities, counties and special districts on a variety of CEQA project challenges including multiple cases involving the Kern River delta, the current Los Angeles International Airport modernization, and a January 2019 decision involving water banking of San Joaquin River resources through the Central Valley Project. Issues in the latter case included dilution of Sierra snow melt to lesser Prop 65 drinking water standards, and associated impacts to crops with greater sensitivity thresholds
- Trial judge on a lengthy inverse condemnation matter involving hydrologic scouring of the banks of the Ventura River due to a combination of flood control projects redirecting surface water
- Real Estate & Real Property
- Successfully mediated commercial landlord-tenant claims through the negotiation of a buy-sell agreement and imposition of mutually acceptable terms
- Handled numerous financing transactions including the following: securing loans, construction financing, guaranty and indemnity agreements, performance bonds and subordination agreements - handled these matters using negotiation, document preparation and litigation, including in appellate courts
- Shepherded land use planning including Subdivision Map Act/Subdivided Lands Act compliance, general plan and specific plan amendments, development agreements and CEQA planning through administrative planning levels, scoping, full environmental review, governing board hearings and numerous related litigation cases through and including the appellate courts
- Handled real property leasing transactions including long-term ground leases, multiple varieties of commercial and industrial leasing, agricultural leases and oil and gas leases/royalty contracts, including negotiation, drafting, performance, breach and associated litigation
- Directly assisted in the preparation of California Revenue and Taxation Code legislation exempting certain transaction types from ad valorem real property tax reassessment
- Represented the largest American title insurance company for the better part of two decades, plus its national 1031 exchange entity, including many coverage issues, title defense and elimination of covered defects of record through any variety of means, including all manner of real property litigation
- Represented various real property owners, contractors, subcontractors and materialmen on a number of mechanic's lien matters, principally on commercial and industrial projects
Honors, Memberships, and Professional Activities
- Judge of the Year, Ventura County Trial Lawyers Association, 2016
- Frequent lecturer in a wide variety of civil litigation and ADR topics, including CEQA, trusts, probate, conservatorships, family law and case management
- Member, Probate Law Curriculum Committee, Center for Judicial Education and Research, Judicial Council of California, 2015–2019
- Member, Emerging Technologies Ad Hoc Working Group, Governing Committee of the Center for Judicial Education and Research, Judicial Council of California, 2015–2016
- Vice-Chair, Court Technology Advisory Committee; Chair, Projects Subcommittee; Judicial Council of California; 2012–2014
- Member, Technology Planning Task Force, Judicial Council Technology Committee, 2012–2014
- Chairman, Technology Committee, Ventura County Superior Court, 2005–2016
- Member, Court Technology Advisory Committee, Judicial Council of California, Administrative Office of the Courts, 2005–2012
- Member; Technology Services Subcommittee, Outreach Subcommittee and Appellate e-Filing Subcommittee; Judicial Council of California; Administrative Office of the Courts; 2005–2012
- Co-Sponsor, Judicial Branch Technology Initiatives Working Group, “Statewide Technology Vision,” Judicial Council Technology Committee, 2012–2013
- Member, AB 2073 Mandatory E-Filing Working Group, Administrative Office of the Courts, 2012–2013
- Member; Ad Hoc Advisory Committee on Court Efficiencies, Cost Savings and New Revenue; Administrative Office of the Courts, 2012–2014
- Chairman, California Case Management System (CCMS) Operational Advisory Committee, Administrative Office of the Courts, 2010–2012
- Member; Judicial Review/Testing Group; California Case System Software; “V4” Criminal, Juvenile, Family Applications; 2007–2011
- Member; Judicial Review/Testing Group; California Case System Software; “V3” Civil, Probate, Small Claims Applications; 2004–2006
Background and Education
- Judge, Ventura County Superior Court, 1998–2019
- 2010–2019: Probate, conservatorships, trusts, guardianships, CEQA
- 2008–2010: Civil trials and motions, CEQA
- 2004–2008: Criminal trials, arraignments, motions, preliminary hearings
- 2002–2004: Probate, conservatorships, trusts, guardianships, family law
- 2000–2002: Criminal trials, arraignments, motions, preliminary hearings (Superior Court Appellate Division)
- 1998–2000: Civil trials and motions
- Of Counsel; Ferguson, Case, Orr, Paterson & Cunningham, LLP; 1997–1998
- Principal, Law Office of Glen M. Reiser, 1992–1997
- Partner; Nordman, Cormany, Hair & Compton; 1978–1992
- Graduate, National Institute for Trial Advocacy, National Session, 1981
- J.D., University of California, Los Angeles, 1978
- B.A., High Honors, University of California, Santa Barbara, 1975
- United States Military Academy, 1971–1972
- "I've had probably over 100 mediations, and I've never experienced a mediator like you. Absolutely amazing. Your knowledge of the law is unmatched, and your friendly and easy disposition is perfect for a mediator. Thank you so much for your efforts."
- "As a mediator, Judge Reiser was extremely effective because of his dedication and persistence. He also went out of his way to ensure that both sides felt listened to, but he knew when to push the parties to help them reach a settlement. Judge Reiser's understanding of the nuances of the parties and counsel, as well as his grasp of the applicable law, enabled the parties to reach a relatively amicable resolution. Having over 30 years of experience handling employment cases on both the plaintiff and defense side, I would highly recommend Judge Reiser as a mediator in employment cases."
- "Yet again, you did a masterful job in reading the parties and counsel involved; kept us talking productively at all times; used your experience on the bench to help the parties adjust their pre-existing 'I'm not going below...' expectations by having them confront new information and its impact on their pre-determined strength of their case; and then made the call at the right time to separate parties to put everyone on shaky ground, which led to all parties incentivized to reach a global settlement."
- "We try hard, but it would not have happened without your difficult work. My partner was correct--you are an excellent mediator."
- "[We] believe it was a good settlement and it definitely could not have been reached without your help. Your honest opinions and hard work are very much appreciated; we know it was not the easiest case to resolve due to the high emotions and personalities involved, in addition to the previous settlement negotiations we had to overcome. We hope to work with you again soon as well."
- "Honestly, I cannot sing your praises highly enough - I have no doubt that you are wholly aware of the emotional investment in this case, and your role in bringing this piece of it to resolution was invaluable. I can only hope there is an interpretation issue so that we have to come back to you!"
- "It was truly a pleasure working with you - your candor, creativity, and sense of humor went a long way with my client."
- "Your professionalism, approachability and sage counsel kept things on track, and it appeared that you were able to see through literally decades of smoke and discern the family dynamic at issue."
- "Your assistance in helping to bring this matter to a resolution was truly invaluable. We especially appreciate the rapport that you were able to build with our client."
- "I greatly appreciated your assistance with this mediation. Your pre-mediation telephone conference was extremely valuable, as well, to discuss the specifics of the case, the claims, and settlement postures taken by the parties and counsel, in advance. I felt that we immediately hit the ground running when we began that morning."
- "Thank you for your time, guidance and insight yesterday. Your work helped resolve what could have been an unnecessary nightmare for this family. It is much appreciated."
- "Thank you for your adroit handling of the mediation. I was extremely impressed with your knowledge, integrity, and competence as a mediator. At times a successful mediation means the parties have clarified that settlement isn't a possibility and go to trial. By being open to that option...you accomplished a successful mediation that resolved the case."
- "Thank you for a successful mediation. Your experience, determination and diplomacy were critical in resolving this complicated and emotionally layered matter."
- "I just wanted to thank you for your time and insight on my [family member's] mediation. Your expertise and experience helped everyone come to a logical conclusion, in terms of a settlement. I appreciated the way you treated me and my family during this process. Having to deal with this from [afar] was difficult and it was hard for me to identify who to trust. You made that part of the process much easier, and I appreciate that."
- "I said thank you many times [...] It doesn't seem enough to convey the gratitude I feel for the service you rendered me and my family. Over the course of the mediation, I admired how you steered and managed both sides to resolution. You had a plan, and you worked it masterfully [...] For the past year, I had been chaffing to confront the plaintiffs. [...] All that huff and puffing evaporated when you entered the Zoom room. It was clear a settlement was to be reached. So, I became prepared/willing to negotiate. It was quite the transformation. From that moment, I trusted you implicitly. In the end, we reached a favorable outcome, though not a moral triumph. [...] It was a remarkable experience that I'm so very grateful to have shared with you. There's no doubt, your presence was essential."
- "Thank you once again for your kind and respectful way of navigating our clients through the difficult mediation process. You are truly the best at what you do!"
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