As a private neutral, I work with clients in a variety of capacities. Listed here are specific job assignments and types of work that I am available to do, including descriptions of the scope of each of these professional roles.

Job Assignments:

Temporary Judge

Selected by agreement of the parties and appointed by the Superior Court, a Temporary Judge is an attorney who meets the qualifications of the California Constitution, the California Rules of Court, and the Court Rules of the local county. In Santa Clara County, a Temporary Judge must meet certain minimum requirements for longevity in practice and for ethical and conduct education and performance, and must undertake to perform according to the standards of judicial conduct.

Generally, within the parameters of the appointment, a Temporary Judge has the same responsibilities, authority, and roles as the full time judicial officers sitting in the courthouse.

By the agreement of the parties, a Temporary Judge can be limited in jurisdiction over the type of issue or over the type of power that can be exercised, as well as over the terms and conditions for termination of services. However, once the parties have embraced an individual in the role of Temporary Judge, they are committed to using the Temporary Judge according to the nature of his employment.

Parties may employ a Temporary Judge in one of the following three roles:

1. All Purpose Temporary Judge

An All Purpose Temporary Judge has plenary scope of authority over all the issues in a case, subject only to appeal.

2. Limited Purpose Temporary Judge (e.g., in the context of Real Estate Sales)

A Limited Purpose Temporary Judge has plenary scope of authority over enumerated issues only, along with any attendant procedural issues necessary for the adjudication of the enumerated issues. For example, and quite commonly, a Limited Purpose Temporary Judge for Real Estate Sale has complete authority over only the issue of sales of a specific piece(s) of property.

3. Limited Scope Temporary Judge (e.g., in the context of Settlements)

Acting in a judicial role and having the authority to make enforceable orders, a Limited Scope Temporary Judge also has his authority constrained in some fashion as to type, purpose, or result. For example, a Limited Scope Temporary Judge for Settlement can take the agreements that parties make in a supervised Settlement Conference and turn these agreements into enforceable court orders.

Possible Types of Work:

As a Temporary Judge, I work with clients in various ways, depending on the needs and particularities of any given case. The list below explains the types of work that I do and provides guidance as to the case-appropriate nature of each type.

Judicially Supervised Settlement Conferences

In a Judicially Supervised Settlement Conference, the parties and their attorneys meet with a “Settlement Officer,” who is either a Judge or a Temporary Judge, for the purpose of discussing possible settlement of their dispute. The Settlement Officer does not make a decision in the case but assists the parties in evaluating the strengths and weaknesses of the case and in negotiating a settlement.

Settlement conferences are appropriate in any case where settlement is an option. They may be mandatory or voluntary, though mandatory settlement conferences are often held close to the date a case is set for trial.


In an arbitration, a neutral person called an “Arbitrator” hears arguments and evidence from each side and then decides the outcome of the dispute. Arbitration is less formal than a trial, and the rules of evidence are often relaxed.

Arbitration may be either “binding” or “nonbinding.” “Binding arbitration” means that the parties waive their right to a trial and agree to accept the arbitrator's decision as final. Generally, there is no right to appeal an arbitrator's decision. “Nonbinding arbitration” means that the parties are free to request a trial if they do not accept the arbitrator's decision.

Cases for Which Arbitration May Be Appropriate

Arbitration is best for cases where the parties want another person to decide the outcome of their dispute for them but would like to avoid the formality, time, and expense of a trial. It may also be appropriate for complex matters where the parties want a decision-maker who has training or experience in the subject matter of the dispute, such as custody, real property, or business valuation.

Cases for Which Arbitration May Not Be Appropriate

If parties want to retain control over how their dispute is resolved, arbitration, particularly binding arbitration, is not appropriate. In binding arbitration, the parties generally cannot appeal the arbitrator's award, even if it is not supported by the evidence or the law. Even in nonbinding arbitration, if a party requests a trial and does not receive a more favorable result at trial than in arbitration, there may be penalties.


In mediation, an impartial person called a “Mediator” helps the parties try to reach a mutually acceptable resolution of the dispute. The Mediator does not decide the dispute but helps the parties communicate so they can try to settle the dispute themselves. Mediation leaves control of the outcome almost exclusively with the parties, even to the point of receiving little or no guidance from the Mediator as to the substance of their dispute, but only about methods and techniques to work with the other party to the dispute..

Cases for Which Mediation May Be Appropriate

Mediation may be particularly useful when parties have a relationship they want to preserve. So when family members, neighbors, or business partners have a dispute, mediation may be the Alternate Dispute Resolution (ADR) process to use. Mediation is also effective when emotions are getting in the way of resolution. A Mediator can hear the parties out and help them communicate with each other in a nondestructive manner.

Cases for Which Mediation May Not Be Appropriate

Mediation may not be effective if one of the parties is unwilling to cooperate or compromise. Mediation also may not be effective if one of the parties has a significant advantage in power over the other. Therefore, it may not be a good choice if the parties have a history of dominance, abuse or victimization.

Case Management

A Case Manager may be chosen by agreement of the parties themselves or may be imposed upon the parties by the All Purpose Judge so as to accomplish specific designated purposes, such as managing discovery, reducing litigious conduct, or supervising conduct or performance of a particular individual of some requirement levied by the law or a prior Court order.

The Case Manager's role and powers are set forth in an order of appointment. Should there be disagreement about the manner in which the Case Manager performs the assigned tasks, the parties’ final recourse is to the All Purpose Judge.

Discovery Referee

A Discovery Referee is a specialized referee, pursuant to CCP §§638 or 639, who effectuates the policies of the Discovery Code with respect to both responsive performance and inquisitive utilization. Further, under the aegis of IRMO Feldman, the Discovery Referee can clearly help enunciate the appropriate standards of performance in providing data.

Neutral Case Evaluator

In neutral evaluation, each party gets a chance to present the case to a neutral person called an “Evaluator.” The Evaluator then gives an opinion on the strengths and weaknesses of each party's evidence and arguments, and also on how the dispute could be resolved.

The Evaluator is often an expert in the subject matter of the dispute. Although the Evaluator's opinion is not binding, the parties typically use it as a basis for trying to negotiate a resolution of the dispute.

Cases for Which Neutral Evaluation May Be Appropriate

Neutral evaluation may be most appropriate in cases in which there are technical issues that require special expertise to resolve or in cases where the amount of damages is the only significant issue to resolve.

Cases for Which Neutral Evaluation May Not Be Appropriate

Neutral evaluation may not be appropriate when there are significant personal or emotional barriers to resolving the dispute

Professional Consultation and Confidential Case Analysis on Strategies and Tactics

Litigants and attorneys in dissolution cases often require assistance in finding the best way to structure their approaches to the dispute resolution process. I provide such assistance in the form of confidential case analysis designed to promote effective and focused allocation of resources. The goal is to help litigants and/or attorneys obtain the maximum benefit from the efforts they expend in resolving a dissolution problem.

In dissolution cases, addressing all issues with equal attention in the resolution process is frequently neither expedient nor necessary, since most cases have two or three issues that ‘drive’ the conclusion of the property, financial or custodial matters at hand. Thus, proper determination, classification and valuation of these “driving issues,” along with the tactical development of non-standard resolution strategies, works to streamline the entire process and insure the greatest return on the legal work performed. The end result is significant cost savings for each side and limited use of the expensive professional workmanship that certain issues require.

Having already conducted over 13,000 such issue identification consultations with attorneys and divorcing couples, I have extensive experience in handling this and other aspects of dissolution cases, such as how to be proactive in ferreting out partial or uncooperative disclosure, or how to develop actual facts into strong legal positions for successful negotiation.

Confidential case analysis can usually be accomplished in a pre-scheduled intra-professional consultation, typically done in the form of a telephone conference or a computer meeting. Through such analysis, the case will receive an independent view, supported by extensive experience, as well as the dispassionate detachment that leads to rational and effective settlement negotiations.

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