Neutral Profile



  • Retired Court of Appeal, Fourth District, Division One; Former Federal Magistrate Judge
  • Based in San Diego, available Nationwide
  • Mediation Only


Justice Aaron brings extensive experience as a jurist in both the federal and state courts in San Diego. Most recently, she served as an associate justice on the California Court of Appeal for 20 years, resolving all types of cases filed in the Superior Court, including complex civil cases, probate disputes, and family law matters. Prior to her appointment to the Court of Appeal, Justice Aaron served as a U.S. Magistrate Judge in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of California for over eight years. In that capacity, she conducted hundreds of ENE conferences and settlement conferences in federal civil cases, earning a reputation among her colleagues and the bar as an acclaimed magistrate judge and a gifted mediator with excellent interpersonal skills and an exceptional ability to settle even the most contentious cases.

One colleague has praised Justice Aaron as a "brilliant and hardworking jurist whose problem-solving skills are invaluable in resolving some of the most complex cases we hear." Justice Aaron applies those same problem-solving skills in assisting parties to arrive at a mutually agreeable resolution to their case, enabling them to avoid the expense, uncertainty, and stress of protracted litigation. She is particularly adept at cultivating an atmosphere in which the parties feel free to fully express their concerns and know that they are truly being heard and understood. Justice Aaron is persistent in her approach, believing that reaching a settlement is always in the parties’ best interests.

Practice Areas

  • Business/Contractual
  • Civil Rights
  • Employment
  • Insurance
  • Personal Injury
  • Professional Malpractice (Legal and Medical)
  • Real Estate

Experience Summary

As an associate justice on the California Court of Appeal for 20 years, Justice Aaron has authored over 1700 appellate opinions, including 286 published opinions, in cases involving all areas of the law. In her eight years as a U.S. Magistrate Judge in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of California, she conducted hundreds of ENE conferences and settlement conferences in all types of federal civil cases.

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Hobbies & Interests

Justice Aaron enjoys international travel, spending time with family, participating in her book club, seeing movies, and hiking with friends.


"Justice Aaron has a wealth of judicial insight having served in multiple judicial positions. She is empathetic and sensitive to the plight of litigants pleading for a sense of fairness and equity in their disputes. Unless a mediator has the willingness to understand and address the needs of the parties, the mediation has far less chance of success. Fortunately, Justice Aaron has great empathy and knowledge, and we as trial lawyers are fortunate to have her willing to listen, advise, and mediate our clients' cases to fair resolutions."
- Twice Named San Diego’s Trial Lawyer of the Year

Links and Articles

Experience Summary


Assisted parties in settling numerous cases involving claims of lack of accessibility of properties and establishments open to the public and claims of failure of employers to accommodate plaintiffs’ disabilities


Resolved numerous disputes involving commercial contracts; commercial lease disputes; liability of corporate officers; dissolution of partnerships and corporations.


Ruled in cases involving allegations of violations of all aspects of CEQA including whether an environmental impact report (EIR) is required; adequacy of the EIR; adequacy of mitigation measures.


Conducted settlement conferences in numerous cases involving allegations of violations of plaintiffs’ civil rights, including claims of excessive force by law enforcement officers; cases brought by prisoners against prison personnel. Ruled in many cases involving the same types of claims, as well as the bystanders’ rights when injured by law enforcement officers conducting police activity.


Ruled in a number of cases raising the propriety of class certification and denials of class certification; whether classes were properly defined; adequacy of a named plaintiff to represent the class; sufficiency of notice to the class; intervention.


Adjudicated claims of violations of numerous consumer rights statutes, including the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act; Consumer Legal Remedies Act; Unfair Competition Law; Consumer Privacy Act; and California’s “lemon law.”


Ruled in cases involving whether the California Government Code precluded the exercise of the initiative power; the validity of various taxes, including a special tax enacted without the approval of the electorate; issues of whether a monetary assessment is a tax or instead, a fee; the legal sufficiency of a ballot title to properly inform the electorate.


Settled many cases, and adjudicated many others, raising claims of wrongful termination; constructive termination; retaliation; sexual harassment; gender discrimination; age discrimination; wage and hour claims, and other Labor Code violations.


Decided numerous cases involving custody disputes, fiduciary duties of divorcing spouses, transmutation of property, and all many other aspects of family law.


Resolved cases involving claims of defamation including statements made in the course of a political campaign; statements made in online forums; libel and slander claims; an allegation that elementary school’s yoga program violates the Establishment Clause.


Successfully conducted numerous settlement conferences and ruled in lawsuits brought by and against public entities involving premises liability; governmental immunities; taking of private property by public entities; building permit issues; zoning disputes; nuisance claims.


Settled, and adjudicated, multiple cases involving insurance coverage disputes; allegations of bad faith; duty to defend, fraudulent concealment.


Decided numerous discovery disputes and conducted settlement conferences in cases raising allegations of patent and trademark infringement.


Resolved multiple cases involving claims of malicious prosecution against attorneys and private parties.


Decided many cases resulting from various types of accidents occurring in numerous contexts; resolved claims involving the existence of whether public entities such as schools, hospitals, etc., or private party defendants owed a duty of care to the plaintiff; applicability of primary assumption of risk.


Decided a number of disputes among beneficiaries of trusts and between a trustee and beneficiaries; interpreted terms of trusts and wills; adjudicated adequacy of language in a trust to effect conveyance of property; resolved claims of undue influence, the applicability of “no contest” clauses to challenges brought by trust beneficiaries.


Resolved cases alleging negligence, strict liability, and breach of warranty in which plaintiffs raised claims of defective design and/or manufacture.


Conducted settlement conferences in, and decided, numerous cases brought against physicians and attorneys alleging professional negligence, including statute of limitation issues and claims of negligent misrepresentation.


Adjudicated numerous cases involving commercial lease disputes; building permit issues; HOA issues such as duties of officers and applicability of the business judgment rule; quiet title claims; unlawful detainer actions.

Legal Career

  • Full-time Neutral, Judicate West (2023-Present)
  • Associate Justice, California Court of Appeal, Fourth District, Division One (2003-2023); Served on the State-Federal Judicial Council and the Appellate Advisory Committee
  • U.S. Magistrate Judge, U.S. District Court for the Southern District of California (1994-2003)
  • Founder, Aaron & Cortez; Specializing in Federal Criminal Defense and Civil Rights (1988-1994)
  • Trial Attorney, Federal Defenders of San Diego, Inc.; Specializing in Indigent Federal Criminal Defense (1984-1988)

Education & Professional Affiliations

  • J.D., Harvard Law School (1981-1984)
  • B.A., Stanford University (1977-1979)
  • Brandeis University (1975-1977)
  • Lawyers Club of San Diego, Member
  • Association of Business Trial Lawyers (ABTL), Former Board Member of the San Diego Chapter; Former Judicial Advisory Board Member
  • Appellate Inn of Court, Master
  • San Diego County Judges Association, Former President; Former Board of Directors
  • San Diego Volunteer Lawyer Program, Former Board Member
  • University of San Diego School of Law and California Western School of Law, Former Adjunct Professor; Teaching trial practice

Achievements & Awards

  • AJC Judge Learned Hand Award Recipient
  • Presented at the Appellate Institute on the state of PAGA in the California Supreme Court and the U.S. Supreme Court
  • Served on numerous panels for the appellate bar on various aspects of the appellate process

Legal Experience

  • Business/Contractual
  • Civil Rights
  • Employment
  • Insurance
  • Personal Injury
  • Professional Malpractice (Legal and Medical)
  • Real Estate

Recent Representative Cases