Neutral Profile




  • Based in Northern California
  • Available for Mediation, Arbitration, and Private Judging assignments


Judge Johnson retired from the Stanislaus County Superior Court in September of 2014 after 20 years of distinguished service. His most recent assignment included presiding over the civil direct calendar where he handled almost every case type including medical malpractice, civil rights, breach of contract, product liability, complex personal injury, employment, insurance coverage, eminent domain, probate, construction defect and class action cases. During this time he heard civil law and motion in addition to numerous jury and court trials many of them lasting several months and covering all matters of civil litigation. As a result, Judge Johnson became very proactive in case management and was an avid proponent of early resolution of cases and as such he dedicated his last 5 years on the bench to participating in as many voluntary settlement conferences as possible. Prior to his appointment, Judge Johnson was a partner at a prominent Modesto law firm with a focus on public entity liability and insurance matters.

He is known for being "professional," "personable" and always "well prepared." One attorney commented, "He has a great grasp of the law and is committed to helping the parties reach an early resolution. His dedication in this regard is unparalleled."

Practice Areas

Hobbies & Interests

Judge Johnson enjoys playing tennis but his real passion is in restoring and collecting antiques.


"Judge Johnson did it again!"
- Attorney on an Edler Abuse Wrongful Death case

"Judge Johnson was great and very quickly had the case assessed."
- Attorney on a Medical Malpractice Matter

"Great guy, would use again."
- Attorney on a Medical Malpractice Matter

Experience Summary

Legal Career

  • Of Counsel, McCormick Barstow, LLP (2014-Present)
  • Professor, Humphreys Law School (2008-Present)
  • Judge, Stanislaus County Superior Court (1997-2014)
  • President, Wray Ladine Inns of Court (1999)
  • Judge, Stanislaus County Municipal Court (1994-1997)
  • President, Stanislaus County Bar Association (1994)
  • Partner, Crabtree, Schmidt, Zeff, Jacobs and Johnson (1989-1994)
  • Senior Deputy City Attorney, City of Modesto (1986-1989)
  • Senior Deputy District Attorney, Stanislaus County and Alameda County (1981-1986)
  • Associate, Law Offices of W. James Snyder (1977-1979)
  • Member, California Judges’ Association

Education & Professional Affiliations

  • J.D. University Of San Diego School Of Law (1977)
  • B.A., California State University Hayward (1974)
  • Master Degree Public Administration, California State University Stanislaus (1989)
  • “Mediating the Litigated Case,” Pepperdine University School of Law, Straus Institute (2014)

Achievements & Awards

  • Throughout his judicial career Judge Johnson dedicated his time to teaching numerous classes for the California Judges Association as well as MCLE classes for the Stanislaus County Bar Association on evidence, trial techniques and case management.

Legal Experience

  • Family Law
  • Probate
  • Personal Injury
  • Medical Malpractice
  • Real Estate
  • Insurance

Representative Case Information

Recent Representative Cases


Complex Commercial

  • Suit between adjoining business owners over water damages alleged to have resulted from poor maintenance repairs of water pipes/fountain of adjoining owner. Significant water damage requiring extensive repairs, remediation and loss of rental to damaged property. Conducted on-site mediation, able to resolve monetary damages on day of mediation but the issues of injunctive relief to protect against future water damages took several weeks with mediator actively involved in resolving issues.


  • Pre-litigation mediation where parties requested mediator help resolve buy-out of highly compensated medical doctor from medical group and value of practice. Resulted in a successful buy-out of the doctor leaving the group to open his own practice while maintaining a good working relationship with all doctors for on-going future service to their patients and for referrals between the practices.
  • Consumers Legal Remedies Act arbitration and related causes of action dealing with purchase of motor vehicle from a dealership. Case very well presented by counsel during two day arbitration, counsel agreed upon partial settlement and remaining issues decided by arbitration in written decision.
  • Alleged breach of contract case between major bank and buyers re: errors dealing with loan modification resulting in mistaken loan modification, failure of buyers to pay original loan, start of foreclosure proceedings, multiple attempts at short sale and eventual short sale. Buyers alleged various causes of action , majority of which would be barred by statute of limitations and bank improperly handled. Long emotional day for buyers but parties were able to reach a fair resolution avoiding uncertainty and expense of trial.
  • Arbitration pertaining to financial accounting relating to equity/capital accounts of two corporations between the shareholders
  • Breach of construction contract, primary issues dealt with interpretation of contract terms including change orders.


Construction Breach Of Contract

  • Public works construction bond case concerning whether or not subcontractor could recover underpayment bond where the general contractor did not pay subcontractor and declared bankruptcy. Excellent lawyering resulted in a reasonable settlement.



  • Mediation of wrongful discharge/disability discrimination, employee of large public entity alleged disability discrimination and wrongful discharge which was aggressively denied. Protracted litigation over several years and parties were able to reach amicable resolution.
  • FEHA case alleging various causes of action, gravamen of case alleged failure to accommodate and failure to engage in the interactive process. Case was scheduled for binding arbitration but counsel requested I mediate the case. Based upon excellent lawyering and cooperation from all parties involved settlement was reached avoiding the cost and uncertainty of binding arbitration

Breach of Contract

  • Breach of contract/severance damages between former executive and large private company. Parties had not been successful in mediation done by another and matter scheduled for a binding arbitration. Acting as arbitrator able to assist parties in reaching an agreement before the matter submitted.


  • Employment case, multiple FEHA claims, alleged disability discrimination. Excellent attorneys, presented their respective positions in professional manner resulting in an amicable resolution.
  • Plaintiff was a probationary employee and on maternity leave when she was terminated for alleged poor performance and due to COVID-19. Post-termination investigation revealed she should not have been terminated for poor performance. Mutual settlement reached.
  • FEHA age discrimination case where plaintiff alleged she was terminated due to age discrimination and replaced by younger employee. Defense denied, stating termination was due to COVID-19 reduction in business and income, plaintiff's position was terminated due to economic business reasons.
  • Alleged racial discrimination and failure to promote an African-American police officer.

Hostile Environment

  • Mediation of sexual harassment case between an employee of a large health care provider resulting in amicable resolution.


  • Wage and hour, residential/assisted living case with multiple alleged violations. Excellent lawyering and communication resulted in settlement pre-discovery.

Sexual Harassment

  • Sexual harassment, disability discrimination, constructive discharge and other FEHA claims. Significant conflicting positions resulting in early settlement.
  • Alleged sexual harassment FEHA claims agains temporary employer and permanent employer by gay employee. A default judgment had been taken against temporary employer. Case has multiple factual issues regarding the alleged harassment and employer had issues as how handled from HR standpoint. Good lawyering and cooperation resulted in a fair resolution pre-discovery.
  • Wrongful termination, sexual harassment, retaliation - temporary male plaintiff sexually harassed by co-employee.

Wage and Hour

  • Virtual mediation of an alleged wrongful termination/wage and hour claims among others. Did not settle on the first mediation session as the parties agreed to complete key depositions and return prior to their scheduled binding arbitration. During the second mediation session, the parties were able to resolve this dispute.

Wrongful Termination

  • Health Care Employment Law case alleging Labor Code 1102.5 and affirmative defenses of 1102.6. Parties had engaged in very extensive and expensive discovery, law and motion, etc. and were headed to a two week binding arbitration in August 2018. Case where parties had significant risks on each side of not prevailing on the merits. Mediation resulted in successful settlement of each of plaintiff's cases based upon good communications, excellent lawyering and negotiation skills by all counsel during the mediation.
  • Landlord/tenant dispute re: Penal Code 290 registration who committed crime against tenant. Issues dealt with duty of landlord/owner to injured tenant, insurance coverage issues, nature and extent of injuries. Good lawyering recognizing risks and benefits of trial resulted in a fair settlement at early stage of litigation.
  • Sexual harassment by a female towards a male employee. The female employee denied the allegations. The supervisor was aware of male employee complaints, but believed consensual in nature and failed to follow zero-tolerance policy and take any action. Alleged retaliatory termination and pre-textural reasons for letting the male employee go. Defendants were joint employers, with the main employer having indemnified/defend contractual obligations.


Environmental Issues

  • Handled/presided over several water right cases while on the bench and had a few lengthy trials involving Modesto Irrigation District, Turlock Irrigation District and Oakdale Irrigation District involving water rights dispute between the irrigation districts and local communities which required analysis of water law and historical deeds/documents going back over a hundred years or more.



  • Early dispute resolution of property division between competing family factions. Mediation resulted in division of real and personal property including a 'buy OUT' provision of on-going business saving the parties from a prolonged and expensive probate litigation.
  • Mediation of breach of fiduciary duties/accounting, undue influence, and trust litigation. Mediation resulted in resolution of all issues and helped improve relationship and trusts of family members.
  • Retained as a private judge to resolve all probate/conservatorship issues amongst competing family matters. Case involved differing religious beliefs and manner and place of burial of decedent.
  • Will contest and prenuptual agreement and challenges for lack of capacity to make will. Very emotional case with strong feelings on each side. Parties "hung in" for extra hours to reach a fair resolution and avoid uncertainty of trial and high attorney fees that would have resulted.

Professional Malpractice

Medical Malpractice

  • Alleged elder abuse, medical malpractice and wrongful death at skilled nursing facility. Case resolved early in litigation and fair result reached

Real Estate

Breach Of Contract

  • Complaint to determine real property ownership with cross complaint with the parties seeking significant property damages. The parties had aggressively pursued discovery and were preparing for trial, and counsel did not have much hopes the matters could be resolved. The parties are brothers were great animus, civil restraining orders, criminal prosecution, environmental complaints, etc. and continue to live on the property pending trial. Multiple attorneys involved, with cooperation of all counsel and good lawyering parties were able to conduct simultaneous mediations on coverage issue and claim issues while a separate mediation was being conducted regarding the parties real property complaint and cross complaint damages. After a long and emotional day the parties were able to reach a global resolution of all issues.


Civil Rights

  • Excessive use of force case filed in Federal Court by plaintiff against several police officers and City. Plaintiff claimed officer used excessive force in wrongfully arresting plaintiff and in handcuffing. Plaintiff received severe injuries to right arm, three fracture sites requiring multiple surgeries and residual injurie to arm. Lengthy litigation and hotly contested, matter resolved with significant award and attorney fees.

General Negligence

  • PI auto v fire emergency vehicle. Contested liability and nature and extent of injuries. Fire Department cross complaint against plaintiff driver for its property damage and worker compensation benefits defended by plaintiff's insurance carrier. Good lawyering recognizing liability issues, plaintiff driver needs to be seen for neurological review and dental review for jaw/teeth issues.

Personal Injury

  • Plaintiff sustained serious and permanent injuries when vehicle he was driving collided with a horse on roadway- the horse has escaped from an auction yard, struck by plaintiff's vehicle and landed on windshield of vehicle. Multiple defendants, causation and liability issues. Parties able to resolve after extensive mediation.

Premises Liability

  • Elderly Plaintiff seriously injured while visiting a patient in a hospital. Mediation involved dangerous condition component as well as interesting medical malpractice component of 'MICRA' which, if liability was found and MICRA found to apply, would limit recovery of general damages. Matter resolved for a significant awarded.

Wrongful Death

  • Elder abuse / wrongful death case pre-litigation. The cooperation of both parties resulted in a fair resolution.