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Hon. Leo S. Papas, Ret.

Retired Federal Magistrate Judge

Judge Papas was appointed a Federal Magistrate Judge for the Southern District of California in 1991. During his time on the bench, he mediated more than 3,800 cases ranging from simple to multi-issue complex matters with national implications. A prime example of his capacity as a mediator is the successful settlement of the Chapter 11 Roman Catholic Diocese of San Diego priest abuse litigation. All 144 claims were resolved, over and above his normal courthouse duties, in three months. Among other high profile cases, Judge Papas also mediated an ADA case involving the City of San Diego (including its prominent tenants, the San Diego Chargers and San Diego Padres) regarding disabled access at Qualcomm Stadium. Over the course of more than five years, including multiple site visits and conferences with the parties, Judge Papas successfully resolved the claims.

It was in August of 2009, after 18 years of distinguished service that Judge Papas made the transition to his encore career as a private mediator with Judicate West. Within his very first year in the private sector, Judge Papas was selected by the Daily Journal as a Top 50 Neutral, a rare and distinguished accomplishment, and he has maintained this status ever since. As a private mediator he has handled well over 1,000 additional cases including in excess of 100 class action and multi-party complex matters and over 200 employment related disputes.

Judge Papas has also devoted substantial time to projects for at risk children and a variety of ADR related projects including participating in programs on mediation advocacy, legal ethics and intellectual property. His mediation skills were utilized in India and Turkey where he consulted with courts and governmental agencies to establish mediation programs and taught, advised and mentored students and mediators. Judge Papas' unpretentious nature, unwavering work ethic, and his ability to be steadily persistent, generate trust and pave the way to settlement. He is an eternal optimist and believes that every case can settle. An attorney on a recent mediation commented, “Judge Papas is not just a great mediator but an exceptional human being. He is always thoroughly prepared as he makes it his mission to resolve every case with the same enthusiasm and tenacity as he did with his last. His willingness to prepare and learn even the most complex subject matter is exemplary. He is my mediator of choice.”
  • This neutral is available only for cases involving Mediation.
  • United States Magistrate Judge, Southern District of California (1991-2009), Presiding Judge (2002-2007)
  • Law Offices of Leo S. Papas, APC, General Civil Litigation (1977-1991)
  • Hervey, Mitchell, Ashworth & Keeney, General Civil Litigation (1974-1977)
  • US Marine Corps (1969-1975), Captain, Office of Staff Judge Advocate (1969-1973)
  • National College of District Attorneys (1971), Naval Justice School (1970)
  • J.D.. Drake University Law School (1969)
  • B.A., University of Nebraska & Northwest Missouri State University (1966)
  • Federal Judicial Center Mediation Skills Program for U.S. Magistrate Judges (1999)
  • Admitted to practice law, Iowa (1969), California (1972), Southern District of CA (1972), Central District (1976)
  • Intellectual Property Program, Univ. of CA, Berkeley, Berkeley Center for Law & Technology (2008)
  • San Diego Inn of Court Board of Directors (2007-Present)
  • San Diego County Bar Association, Judicial Advisor to Ethics Comittee (2003-Present)
  • Distinguished Fellow, International Academy of Mediators (2014-Present)
  • San Diego County Board of Directors (1989-91), Secretary (1989-1990)
  • San Diego Lawyer Magazine Advisory Board (2006-Present)
  • San Diego County Bar Foundation Board of Directors (1989-1991)
  • San Diego Trial Lawyers Association, Board of Directors (1987-1989), Vice President (1989-1991)
  • San Diego County Superior Court Judge Pro Tem, Arbitrator, Mediator (1988-1991), Three Judge Settlement Panel (1988-1991)
  • Director, Judges in the Classroom, U.S. District Court, San Diego Unified School District (1995-2009)
  • Member, San Diego County Bar Association Children at Risk Committee (2000-2014)
  • Member, 9th Circuit Public Information and Community Outreach Committee (2003-2006)
  • Board Member, Association of Business and Trial Lawyers (2003-2004)
  • Member, U.S. District Court Forms Task Force (2005-2009)
  • Member, San Diego County Bar Association Civility, Integrity and Professionalism Committee (2007-2008)
  • Member/Arbitrator, San Diego County Bar Association Client Relations Committee (1974-1991)
  • Founder/Creator, Reader Program, Porter Elementary (2004-Present)
  • Speaker, "Discussion of Settlement Techniques", Federal Bar Association and Pan Asian Bar Association (2006)
  • Speaker, "Meditiation Advocacy-Beyond the Basics", San Diego Bar Association (2009)
  • Speaker, "Local Rules and Best Practices", San Diego Intellectual Property Lawyers Association (2009)
  • Advisor, Local Chapter of Federal Bar Association, ADR Section, (2010)
  • Speaker, Consumer Attorneys of San Diego, 2nd Annual Class Action Symposium (2009)
  • Speaker, San Diego Bar Assoc. Legal Ethics Committee, Future Shock: An Interactive Legal Ethics Program (2010)
  • Member, Enright Inn of Court (2010-present)
  • Advisor, Association of Business Trial Lawyers (2010-present)
  • Intellectual Property
  • Class Actions
  • Securities
  • Shareholder Suits
  • Highly Sensitive and/or Catastrophic Personal Injury
  • Employment
  • Americans with Disability Act (ADA)
  • Business Commercial
  • Jones Act/Maritime
  • Mortgage/Foreclosure
  • Franchise
  • Professional Liability
  • Bankruptcy Adversary Proceedings
  • Federal Tort Claims Act (FTCA)
  • Government/Agency Condemnation
  • Judge Papas was named by Los Angeles Magazine as one of California's "Super Lawyers", 2014, in the field of Alternative Dispute Resolution.
  • In 2010 to present Judge Papas was selected by the Daily Journal as a Top Neutral in the state of California.
  • Thompson Reuters "Super Lawyer" 2010-Present.
  • Traveled to India and Turkey consulting to establish mediation programs in courts and with governmental agencies
  • United States Marine Corps Officer Leadership Award (1970)
  • San Diego County Bar Association, Outstanding Jurist of the Year (2003)
  • Inducted into Washington High School Athletic Hall of Fame (2006)
  • Consumer Attorneys of San Diego Co-Judge of the Year (2007)
  • Panelist, San Diego County Bar Association Ethics Committee presentation 'Navigating Waivers' (2010)
  • Judge Papas and his wife travel frequently, visiting their son in New York and daughter and grandchildren in San Francisco. He enjoys volunteer work and is involved in many outreach programs for the SDCBA, Courts, and schools. He plays a lot of golf and is developing an interest in xeriscape gardening.
  • All of California