Temporary Judge/Settlement Attorney Program
What is a Temporary Judge and/or a Settlement Attorney
Temporary judges (formerly referred to as "pro tems") and settlement attorneys provide a valuable service in some of the court's busiest venues. Each month, hundreds of attorneys regularly serve as temporary judges and settlement attorneys in trial courts across the state. Often people experience their only "day in court" before a temporary judge or settlement attorney.
Need for Temporary Judges and Settlement Attorneys in San Diego
As the second largest trial court system in the state and the third largest in the nation, the San Diego Superior Court requires the service of many temporary judges and settlement attorneys each month. The court utilizes them to hear various types of cases, including small claims, traffic, and probate, and to hear settlement conferences in family. Temporary judges and settlement attorneys can serve in various convenient court locations, including Central (Downtown), Kearny Mesa, South County (Chula Vista), East County (El Cajon), and North County (Vista). Evening scheduling may also be available for small claims and traffic cases.
Rules and Administrative Policy Governing Temporary Judges and Settlement Attorneys
The California Judicial Council, which governs all California state courts, enacted rules 2.810 - 2.834 of the California Rules of Court to govern the selection, training, appointment, supervision, and evaluation of court-appointed temporary judges. The rules resulted from a year-long state study which showed public dissatisfaction with certain types of cases. The public perceived procedural fairness to be lower in traffic, family, and small claims cases compared to other case types. Because these are areas in which court-appointed temporary judges are often used, the state revised the regulations to enhance the quality of temporary judging. Click on the link at the right to see the rules governing temporary judges. These rules formed the basis for the court's revised administrative policy, which applies to both temporary judges and settlement attorneys.
Applying to be a Temporary Judge and/or Settlement Attorney
To qualify for appointment as a temporary judge and/or settlement attorney, an applicant must be an active member of the California State Bar in good standing for at least ten years immediately preceding appointment. For a complete list of requirements, and a checklist, click on the links at the right. Applications are now being accepted and reviewed by the court. Click on the link to access the fillable Application form.
The rules require that applicants complete mandatory "live" training in bench conduct and demeanor, plus on-line training in ethics, and substantive areas. MCLE credit will be provided for all required training.
Applicants will also be required to successfully complete a local background check and a live scan background check, which is an inkless fingerprint process that checks the Department of Justice and the FBI databases at no cost to the applicant. Click on the link to see the Background Investigation Form.
For more information about the court's Temporary Judge Program, please contact the administrator at