Current List of Complex Litigation Program Judges (September 2022)

We recently posted a list of current U.S. business court judges.  Today, we provide a current list of designated complex litigation program judges, from a few jurisdictions.

As the presence of complex litigation programs is somewhat harder to track, there is no promise this list is complete.

As used here, the difference between complex litigation programs and business or commercial courts has to do with the parameters of the each docket’s jurisdiction.  Business and commercial dockets are defined primarily by case type (commercial/business) subject matter jurisdiction; though there may also be some complexity requirements and/or minimum amount in controversy requirements, placing further controls on jurisdiction.  For example, Manhattan’s Commercial Division has a $500,000 minimum amount in controversy, limiting inclusion.

By contrast, complex litigation program jurisdiction is defined primarily by the complexity of litigation processes and procedures.  Thus, the civil law subject matter or case type (tort, contract, business, commercial) should not matter, so long as the case meets the definition of a complex case procedurally.

For example, California Rule 3.400(b) considers the following factors in determining whether a civil action falls within the scope of a “complex case” that might be assigned to a county Superior Court with a complex case program:

In deciding whether an action is a complex case under [Rule 3.400](a), the court must consider, among other things, whether the action is likely to involve:

(1)  Numerous pretrial motions raising difficult or novel legal issues that will be time-consuming to resolve;

(2)  Management of a large number of witnesses or a substantial amount of documentary evidence;

(3)  Management of a large number of separately represented parties;

(4)  Coordination with related actions pending in one or more courts in other counties, states, or countries, or in a federal court; or

(5)  Substantial post judgment judicial supervision.

The following list does not include limited complex litigation programs, e.g., class-action only programs or mass tort only programs.  Rather, the courts listed below include complex litigation programs that appear to accept any civil subject matter, so long as the case falls within the meaning of a complex case.  Other than in Phoenix, which has a parallel Commercial Court program, these complex litigation programs should include complex business and commercial disputes within their docket, if those cases meet the complexity definition.

In light of a complex litigation program judge potentially hearing multiple complex business and commercial disputes, complex litigation program judges have, to some extent, complex business litigation expertise. For example, Judge Gail Andler, a now retired Complex Civil program judge from Orange County, California, has served as President of the American College of Business Court Judges.

(When one thinks of the prototypical business court, the Delaware Court of Chancery may come to mind.  That court’s actual jurisdictional limits, however, are chiefly based on its equity jurisdiction, and not by a subject matter jurisdiction limited to business disputes.  Still, because so many important business disputes are handled in the Chancery Court, it is recognized as having the highest level of judicial expertise in handling business cases, and is considered a seminal business court. In the same way, theoretically, a complex litigation program judge might develop an expertise in complex business and commercial cases, if that program has enough of those cases on its docket.)


Complex Litigation Program, Superior Court of Maricopa County (Phoenix)

Judge Dewain Fox (also Commercial Court Judge)

Judge Scott McCoy (also Commercial Court Judge)

Judge Danielle Viola


Alameda, Complex Civil

Judge Evelio Grillo

Judge Jo-Lynne Lee

Judge Brad Seligman

Contra Costa, Complex Litigation

Judge Edward G. Weil

Los Angeles, Complex Civil Litigation Program

Judge Elihu Berle

Judge David Cunningham

Judge Kenneth Freeman

Judge William F. Highberger

Judge Carolyn Kuhl

Judge Maren E. Nelson

Judge Yvette M. Palazuelos

Judge Stuart N. Rice

Orange County, Complex Civil

Hon. William D. Claster

Hon. Glenda Sanders

Hon. Randall J. Sherman

Hon. Peter Wilson

Riverside, Complex Civil Litigation

Judge Craig Riemer

Sacramento, Complex Civil Cases

Hon. Lauri A. Damrell

Hon. Jill H. Talley

San Bernadino, Complex Litigation Program

Judge David Cohn

Judge Janet Frangie

San Francisco, Complex Civil Litigation

Judge Andrew Y.S, Cheng

Judge Ethan P. Schulman

Santa Clara, Complex Civil Litigation

Hon. Sunil R. Kulkarni



Hon. John B. Farley

Hon. Cesar A. Noble


Hon. Sheila A. Ozalis


Hon. Barbara N. Bellis


Lane County

Hon. Charles D. Carlson

Hon. Lauren S. Holland

Multnomah County

Hon. Stephen K. Bushong

Hon. Eric L. Dahlin

Hon. Jerry B. Hodson

Hon. David F. Rees