While in law school, Judge Altman was permitted to handle litigation matters, and, while a student, tried and settled cases in and around the Boston area. Following graduation, he went with the firm of Loeb and Loeb where after six months he was permitted to handle litigation matters from start to finish. He litigated and tried business cases in Los Angeles, San Francisco and Ventura counties and also did complex transaction work. Wanting to be in court on a daily basis, he joined the Los Angeles County District Attorneys office in 1970, and for ten years, tried hundreds of criminal cases. He received commendations from local officials and from the California Legislature. He was co-counsel with 9th Circuit Court of Appeal Judge Stephen Trott on the so called “Watergate West” case which involved criminal activity in California by the White House “Plumber’s” group.
Judge Altman was appointed directly to the Superior Court in 1980. He retired in March 2000 having spent twenty years on the bench. He enjoyed a distinguished career and in 1990 received the Outstanding Trial Jurist Award from the Los Angeles County Bar Association. For many years he handled criminal cases in the downtown Criminal Courts Building. For two years he handled exclusively court trials, taking on trailing cases when both sides were willing to waive jury and permit him to make the decision. About a third of the cases were homicides and Judge Altman routinely tried five or more cases a week. He was the only judge ever to have such an assignment and was honored by both the Criminal Court Bar Association and the Los Angeles County Bar Association Criminal Justice Section as their trial judge of the year.
For the last ten years of his public career, Judge Altman had a civil assignment in Santa Monica. He handled the master calendar, law and motion, ex-partes, etc. and conducted mediation and settlement conferences on a regular basis. His colleagues maintain that during his career he probably tried and settled as many cases as any judge in California. He has handled every variety of civil dispute and has served as an “all purpose” judge in complex cases.
Judge Altman was elected multiple times to the Superior Court’s Executive Committee, and for many years, served on both the BAJI and CALJIC committees. He also served as a Trustee of the California Law Library.
Since retiring, Judge Altman has practiced as a private judge. He has handled mediations and arbitrations involving all areas of civil law. He currently handles mediations only. Has been named by the Daily Journal as a Top Master Neutral for 2013 and for six consecutive years (2006-2011) as one of the top mediators in California and by the Hollywood Reporter for four consecutive years (2007-2010) as one of the top entertainment mediators in California.
Judge Altman has enjoyed a very active teaching career. While a practicing attorney, he was on the faculty at Pepperdine Law School, and, while on the bench, served on the faculty of the California Judges Association and the California Center for Judicial Education and Research. Through those organizations he was involved in teaching in every aspect of civil litigation to judges throughout the State. He has also written extensively on trial management and settlement techniques. He has served on panels for Continuing Education of the Bar (CEB); Rutter Group; and Los Angeles County Bar Association (LACBA). Since retiring, he has spoken on mediation, arbitration and civil trials.