San Diego Superior Court Judge Peter L. Gallagher Retires

Feb 02, 2023
Judge Peter L. Gallagher

The Honorable Peter L. Gallagher recently completed his last day on the San Diego Superior Court bench, ending a more than 20-year career as a judge, most of which was spent presiding over criminal trials. He was first elected to the position in 2002 and was sworn into office in January 2003.

“It was an honor and a privilege to serve San Diego in this capacity,” said Judge Gallagher. “I had a front row position in working with the some of California’s best professionals in law enforcement, prosecution, and criminal defense. Such fine people forced me to be my best day in and day out. I hope I did not let them down.”

Prior to taking the bench, Judge Gallagher was a prosecutor with the San Diego District Attorney's Office for more than 13 years. His assignments crossed through the Domestic Violence Unit and Municipal Court and Drug Court Divisions. His early legal career was in private practice in New Orleans before moving to San Diego in 1989. A graduate of the Temple University School of Law, Judge Gallagher is a bar member in four states: California, Louisiana, Pennsylvania, and New Jersey.

Throughout his career as a judge and as an attorney, Judge Gallagher focused on assisting victims of domestic violence, persons with addictions, homeless and economically challenged veterans. Specifically, he was instrumental in designing a pilot program with the District Attorney’s Child Support Division and Vietnam Veterans of San Diego to assist in resolving veterans’ child support issues and arrangements for future payments.

Among his accolades, Judge Gallagher has been honored by the Community Connections Drug Treatment organization for his work as a prosecutor in the various treatment courts in San Diego. He was recognized with a Naval Criminal Investigative Service (NCIS) Director Award for community endeavors with veterans’ groups. The San Diego Crime Commission awarded Judge Gallaher with the Blue Knight Award and he received the 2017 Richard Thurman Award from the San Diego branch of Mental Health America.

“Judge Gallagher has been a wonderful colleague and close friend since we were sworn in together just over 20 years ago. The court will miss his ability to handle any type of case sent his way, from petty thefts to difficult homicides, as well as his willingness to juggle multiple cases at once,” said Judge Michael Smyth, San Diego Superior Court Presiding Judge. “Just as much, though, we will miss his larger-than-life personality and his huge heart. He cares deeply about the human side of the justice system, and it showed in every case he touched. His well-deserved retirement is a great loss to the court.”

Judge Gallagher is active in the community, currently serving on the St. Paul’s Senior Services Foundation Board and formerly serving as the San Diego Downtown Lions Club president.

As chairman of the San Diego Lions Baseball Tournament, Judge Gallagher was honored by the California Interscholastic Federation in 2012 with their esteemed Lifetime Achievement Award and the San Diego CIF Coaching Legends awarded him the Robert Breitbard Meritorious Service Award in 2020 for his contributions to high school athletics. The Lions Tournament is the oldest, largest, and most prestigious high school baseball tournament in the nation.

In retirement, Judge Gallagher plans to continue with community endeavors in between sunny days at the beach.