Judge Crandall has had a distinguished career spanning over five decades, with the last decade serving on the Orange County Superior Court. Before his appointment to the bench, he spent a significant portion of his litigation practice focused on insurance defense. He was a partner at a law firm before founding his own practice, where he represented both plaintiffs and defendants.

Having tried 164 cases to verdict, his trial experience and reputation for excellence earned him the prestigious rank of Diplomate with the American Board of Trial Advocates (ABOTA).

Recognized for his integrity, compassion, and civility, Judge Crandall received ABOTA’s George Francis Judicial Civility Award in 2017 as well as the Judicial Excellence Award by the Orange County Trial Lawyers Association (OCTLA) in 2023.

He has always been well respected as a judicial officer and known for having thoughtful and detail-oriented rulings. As a scholar of the law and a seasoned legal professional, he is an exceptional addition to the private sector.

Practice Areas
  • Aviation
  • Business/Contractual
  • Employment
  • Insurance Bad Faith
  • Lemon Law
  • Medical Negligence
  • Personal Injury Including Sexual Assault and Wrongful Death
  • Product Liability
  • Real Estate Including Homeowners Association Law
Hobbies & Interests

Judge Crandall stays active and competes in track and field events in the Masters division. He also enjoys flying airplanes and is an instrument-rated pilot. He especially loves spending time with his family; he and his wife have 7 children and 16 grandchildren.

Legal Career
  • Full-time Neutral, Judicate West (2023-Present)
  • Judge, Orange County Superior Court (2012-2023); Served on the Central Panel (2014-2016) and the Civil Panel (2017-2023)
  • Founding Partner, Crandall, Wade & Lowe (1976-2012); Defended insurance companies in excess liability and bad faith claims
  • Partner, Spray, Gould & Bowers (1971-1976); Specialized in Insurance Defense
Education & Professional Affiliations
  • J.D., Loyola Law School (1970)
  • B.A., San Jose State (1967)
  • American Board of Trial Advocates (ABOTA), Diplomate
  • Orange County Bar Association, Member
  • American College of Trial Lawyers, Fellow
Achievements & Awards
  • Judicial Excellence Award, OCTLA (2023)
  • George Francis Judicial Civility Award, ABOTA (2017)
Below is a sampling of the various matters Hon. James L. Crandall, Ret. presided over on the bench, tried as an attorney, or handled as a neutral.

Cannabis Industry

  • IP and contract dispute over joint development agreement for CBD products

Wrongful Termination

  • As a former judicial officer, presided over numerous employment cases, encompassing sexual harassment, hostile work environment, wrongful termination, and ADA accommodation failure
  • Dispute between doctor and health care provider involving wrongful termination.
  • Dispute between employer and terminated employee regarding alleged embezzlement and kickback scheme

Bad Faith

  • Trial of alleged bad faith denial of fire loss
  • Trial of bad faith claim for denial of life insurance claim
  • Trial of alleged bad faith denial of theft coverage
  • Trial of alleged bad faith refusal to pay disability insurance benefits
  • As a former judicial officer, adjudicated bad faith cases, including alleged bad faith denial regarding auto accident coverage, water damage from a broken pipe, and foundation settling the dispute
  • Trial of bad faith denial of disability claim

Professional Malpractice Legal

  • Adjudicated dozens of attorney fee disputes and malpractice cases

Real Property

  • Commercial leasing real estate dispute between landlord and Cannabis Company
  • Real estate dispute between Homeowner’s Association and Homeowners
  • As a former judicial officer, presided over numerous civil real estate cases, including HOA issues, condo elections, property line disputes, neighbor altercations, tree cases, fence disputes, and view disputes

General Negligence

  • Dog bite case involving a young child

Personal Injury

  • Slip and fall case brought by a tenant against the landlord

PI Auto

  • As a judicial officer, presided over numerous personal injury cases, including auto accidents, medical negligence, dental malpractice, and slip and fall
  • Car accident case involving severe brain injury
  • Mediated a case with a judicial reference from the Superior Court, per CCP 638, to conduct the trial and prepare the judgment.
Crandall did a great job.
- Attorney on an Employment Wrongful Termination Case
Smart, tech-savvy, and efficient - Judge Crandall was an outstanding trial lawyer and judge and respected by both sides!
- Past President of ABOTA-OC and Top 50 Orange County Super Lawyer
Judge Crandall did a great job with a tough case. I wouldn't hesitate to use him again.
- Attorney Listed on Best Lawyers in America
Judge Crandall was very prepared and cared about the parties and resolution of our case. I would absolutely use Judge Crandall again!
- Attorney Named Personal Injury Top Gun, Trial Lawyer of the Year by OCTLA
Judge Crandall is a true gentleman with a great heart, and it was a pleasure mediating with him. Judicate West is lucky to have him.
- Attorney on a Premises Liability Case
Best new mediator in decades. Incredibly effective with both sides. Class act.
- Attorney on a Personal Injury Dangerous Condition Case
I always find Judicate West neutrals to go the extra mile. This was no exception. I have been before Judge Crandall before when he was on the bench. He is even more effective as a mediator.
- Attorney on a Business/Contractual Case
Judge Crandall has the perfect demeanor for handling emotional plaintiffs and stubborn claims representatives. He understands when to exercise his influence to get a case settled and has a good feel for the parties.
- Partner at a Leading Nationwide Litigation Firm
Hon. James L. Crandall, Ret.
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Case Manager: Kami Villhauer