Judge Joel Pressman served the legal community as a civil trial attorney and judge for over 45 years and is now available to serve as mediator, arbitrator, and private judge. As an attorney, he represented plaintiffs and defendants in diverse civil litigation matters, including international matters in the state and federal courts, and is a longtime member of ABOTA. As a judge, he earned himself a reputation as being a practical and knowledgeable settlement judge and mediator in hundreds of cases, including complex cases statewide. As an independent civil trial calendar judge, he was responsible for managing a caseload of over 1,000 diverse civil cases. Judge Pressman also served as a leader in the court as Supervising Judge of the Vista Superior Court and also spent many of those years on the Court Executive Committee. He is regarded as a judge with common sense, practical experiences and a genuine understanding of the dynamics of difficult cases and clients as well as the related costs (financial and otherwise) of litigation. As both a trial lawyer and as a judge, he presided over the trials of catastrophic personal injury cases, business and commercial disputes, medical and legal malpractice matters, employment wage and hour, harassment, ADA, and civil rights. Judge Pressman has extensive experience in insurance coverage, insurance bad faith and real estate litigation and class actions, including antitrust actions.
According to Judge Pressman, "I see private dispute mediation as a continuation of those aspects of my judicial career which I found most satisfying and in which I was most successful. To resolve a dispute without the emotional and monetary cost of trial is a wonderful thing."
All Types of Personal Injury
Insurance Coverage & Bad Faith
Notable case Judge Pressman oversaw as a superior court judge
In his spare time, Judge Pressman has a passion for traveling to exotic places, music, theatre, opera, and exploring natural parks and beaches.
"He was very well prepared and treated all parties and counsel professionally. He tried and stuck with us throughout a very difficult and sensitive effort to resolve things."
- Attorney on a Business Fraud & Misrepresentation Matter
"Judge Pressman was great, as always."
- Attorney on a Personal Injury Slip & Fall Matter
"Judge Pressman was very effective and gracious."
- Attorney on a Commercial Real Estate case
"Judge Pressman established a great rapport with my client, he listened, and he properly discovered the motivations of each party."
- Attorney on a Real Property/Landlord Tenant Dispute
"Educating opposing counsel and party regarding unrealistic expectations."
- Attorney on a Personal Injury Construction Dispute
"You picked up a really good jurist here. I had the pleasure of having several large exposure business cases the Judge and I was an out of towner. He demeanor was firm but friendly. He worked the cases hard and tried his best to grapple with all of the obtuse concepts we threw at him. I only wish the Judge Pressman would clone himself and have his clones continue to try cases. He is at the top of my list for Southern California mediators and arbitrators. Congratulations on snagging him!"
- Orange County Attorney
"While [his] experience as a trial lawyer and judge was obviously instrumental in bringing the parties together to arrive at a compromise, I was most impressed with the kindness, compassion, patience, and respect that you showed to our client. I am glad that I never have to go against [him] as a lawyer. I am disappointed that I never had the opportunity to try a case in [his] courtroom. But, I look forward to mediating many cases with [him] in the future."
- Attorney on an Employment/Discrimination Dispute
"Judge Pressman was thoroughly prepared, and extremely forthright in his evaluations of the parties' positions, and of the practical considerations the parties needed to factor into their decision-making. This was a difficult case, which I thought had no chance of settling. I am deeply impressed with the job Judge Pressman did."
- Attorney on a Civil Rights Matter
Consumer class action alleging violation of zip code statute requiring retailer to refrain from requesting a zip code until the transaction is finished.
Alaburda vs. Thomas Jefferson School of Law
Consumer class action law student alleged fraud and misrepresentation by the school in publishing post-graduate employment figures.
Alpine High School District vs. Grossmont Union High School District
Lawsuit alleging the misuse of school bond funds, which bond was passed by voters to build a high school in Alpine. Lawsuit sought to require funds be allocated to build the high school.
Cold Therapy Cases – Fleishmann
Nationwide class action. Plaintiff alleged failure to properly warn consumer of cold therapy devices. Improper product warning and design allegedly caused sever harm to users of the product.
De Anza Cove Home Owners vs. City of San Diego
Class action by tenants of mobile home park owned by City of San Diego on Mission Bay. This lawsuit lasted for ten years. Tenants alleged that they were entitled o relocation damages from city.
Pointe SDMU vs. County of San Diego
Major subdivision, highway location and use permits in largest mapping parcel in East San Diego County. Issues were damages flowing from map modification and conditions.
Hickman vs. Hardrock
Plaintiff injured while attending concert during which disc jockey leapt from the stage and landed on plaintiff causing traumatic spinal injury.
Atlas-Allied vs. San Diego Community College
Lawsuit for breach of construction contract alleging non-payment for as-built extras to contract.
Percy vs. Serco, Inc.
Aviation catastrophic wrongful death in which two private planes crash, allegedly caused by control tower negligence. All cases were brought together and resolved.
Harris vs. Zoological Society of San Diego Superior Court
Wrongful termination lawsuit alleging discrimination and failure to accommodate.
Reynoso vs. Eye Surgery Center Tri-City
Medical malpractice alleging significant damages arising from medical negligence and supervisor.
Vasquez vs. The Regents of the University of California
Medical malpractice involving minor.
Alvarez vs. Kmart
Consumer protection class action litigation.
Harley-Davidson vs. California Franchise Tax Board
Constitutional challenge (Commerce Clause) to California Tax Code re: interstate unitary businesses.
Pala Band of Mission Indians vs. California Dept. of Resources and Recycling
Mandamus action involving interpretation of Waste Management Act and the Gregory Landfill.
Diaz vs. City of Chula Vista
Employment discrimination involving public employee.
Judge, Superior Court, San Diego (2002-17)
Civil Independent Calendar Judge (2010-17)
Executive Committee of Court (2008-14)
Supervising & Assisting Judge, North County Branch (2006-10)
Criminal & Civil, North County Branch (2002-10)
Partner, Kolodny & Pressman, APC, San Diego (1983-01)
Partner, Hadfield, Van Berolding, Graubart & Pressman, San Francisco (1972-82)
Education & Professional Affiliations
J.D., Hastings College of Law (1972)
B. A., University of California Berkeley (1969)
Association of Business Trial Lawyers, ABTL (1992 – Present) Executive Committee/Board of Directors (2012-Present)
Settlement Conference Dynamics, Pepperdine University School of Law/Straus Institute for Dispute Resolution
Lopardo American Inn of Court, Member (2002-10)
ABOTA, Member (1999-Present)
Achievements & Awards
AV/Preeminent rating with Martindale Hubbell
In 2017, Judge Pressman was awarded Judge of the Year by both Consumer Attorneys of San Diego and San Diego Defense Lawyers. He is the only judge in history to receive this honor from both plaintiff and defense attorneys in the same year.
Bernard Witkin Award, San Diego Law Library Foundation (2015)
Outstanding Trial Lawyer, San Diego Trial Lawyers (1992)