Profile

The Honorable Ming W. Chin joined ADR Services, Inc. in 2021 after a highly decorated and illustrious career marked by exemplary public service, including 24 years as an Associate Justice of the California Supreme Court. He is deeply respected and admired among his peers, not only for his remarkable intellect and strength of character, but also for his great dedication and contributions to the California judiciary and to the legal community at large. As a mediator, arbitrator, referee, and appellate consultant at ADR Services, Inc., Justice Chin continues to service the business and legal communities by resolving complex and divisive matters through alternative dispute resolution.

Justice Chin was appointed to the California Supreme Court by Governor Pete Wilson in 1996, becoming the first Chinese-American to serve on the court. During his tenure, he became known for his prolific output, authoring landmark decisions and key opinions across the full range of civil and criminal matters, often drawing upon his prior experience in the fields of arbitration, business litigation, family law, and criminal law. Justice Chin previously served on the California Court of Appeal, First Appellate District, as an Associate Justice and later Presiding Justice of his division. Prior to his appointment to the Court of Appeal, he served two years as a Judge of the Alameda County Superior Court.

Born in Klamath Falls, Oregon, as the youngest of eight children to parents who immigrated to the United States from China, Justice Chin spent his formative years working on his family’s rural potato farm seven days a week, developing a formidable work ethic that would serve him well throughout his career. After his family relocated to California, Justice Chin attended the University of San Francisco, studying political science and simultaneously serving four years in the Reserve Officer Training Corps (ROTC). After graduating from the University of San Francisco, School of Law, Justice Chin answered the call to public service as a Captain in the United States Army for two years, including a year in Vietnam, where he was awarded the Army Commendation Medal and the Bronze Star for his service in the Vietnam War.

Upon returning home from military service, Justice Chin began his legal career as a Deputy District Attorney at the Alameda County District Attorney’s Office. After four years, he left the District Attorney’s office to become an associate in the Oakland based business and employment litigation firm of Aiken, Kramer & Cummings. He pursued that trial practice for fifteen years, becoming a partner in the firm and gaining considerable civil experience in the courtroom, including obtaining two judgments in excess of $1 million dollars, until his appointment to the bench in 1988.

Justice Chin has served on the leadership committees of several state and local bar associations and was the first Asian-American to serve as President of the Alameda County Bar Association in its more than 100-year history. He is Vice Chair of the California Judicial Council and has chaired the Council’s Commission for Impartial Courts, Court Technology Advisory Committee, and Science and the Law Steering Committee. He served as a member of the Board of Trustees of the University of San Francisco, where he was a member of the Executive Committee and chaired the Academic Affairs Committee. In 2009, the Judicial Council of California named him the California Jurist of the Year.

JUDICIAL EXPERIENCE

Supreme Court of California, 1996-2020

  • Appointed by Governor Pete Wilson, 1996
  • Confirmed by the Commission on Judicial Appointments, 1996

California Court of Appeal, First Appellate District, 1990-1996

  • Appointed by Governor George Deukmejian, 1990
  • Promoted to Presiding Justice of Division Three, 1994

Superior Court of California, County of Alameda, 1988-1990

  • Appointed by Governor George Deukmejian, 1988

LEGAL EXPERIENCE

  • Partner, Aiken, Kramer & Cummings, 1973-1988
  • Deputy District Attorney, Alameda County District Attorney’s Office, 1969-1973

MILITARY EXPERIENCE

Captain, United States Army, 1967-1969

  • Commendation Medal, Quang Tri, Vietnam, 1969
  • Bronze Star, Long Binh, Vietnam, 1969

EDUCATION

  • J.D., University of San Francisco, School of Law, 1967
  • B.A. in Political Science, University of San Francisco, 1964

HONORS & AWARDS

  • Bernard E. Witkin Medal, California Lawyers Association, 2020
  • John Van de Kamp “Justice Through Laws” Award, Conference of California Bar Associations 2020
  • Bernard S. Jefferson Judicial Education Award, California Judges Association, 2020
  • Thomas More Award, St. Thomas More Society of San Francisco, 2016
  • Distinguished Service Award, Judicial Council of California, 2009
  • Legal Impact Award, Asian Law Alliance, 2007
  • Commitment to Community Award, Asian Pacific Bar Association of Silicon Valley, 2006
  • Promoting Diversity Through Judicial Excellence, California Minority Counsel Program, 2006
  • Distinguished Faculty Service, Judicial Council of California Education Division, 2005
  • Asian Pacific American Heritage Month Award, United States Attorneys 2004
  • Trailblazer Award, National Asian Pacific American Bar Association, 1999
  • Public Service & Government Leadership Award, Asian Business Association, 1998
  • Citizen of the Year Award, Chinese Americans United for Self-Empowerment, 1998
  • Legal Impact Award, Asian Pacific American Legal Center of Southern California, 1997
  • Learned Hand Award, San Francisco Bay Chapter, American Jewish Committee, 1997
  • Thomas More Award, University of San Francisco, School of Law, 1996
  • Alumnus of the Year, University of San Francisco, School of Law, 1993
  • Outstanding Judge of the Year, Alameda County Bar Association, 1989
  • Alumnus of the Year, University of San Francisco, 1988
  • Distinguished Service Award, Alumni Association, University of San Francisco, 1985
  • Edward McQuade Award for Journalism, University of San Francisco, 1964

SELECTED LEADERSHIP & PROFESSIONAL ROLES

  • Vice Chair, Judicial Council of California, 2015-Present
  • President, Commonwealth Club of California, 1998
  • Member, Executive Committee, State Bar Court, State Bar of California, 1993-1994
  • Member, San Francisco District Attorney’s Commission on Hate Crimes, 1990-1992
  • President, Alameda County Bar Association, 1987
  • Member, Board of Directors, First District Agricultural Association, 1985-1988
  • Delegate, Conference of Delegates, State Bar of California, 1983-1986
  • Referee, State Bar Court, State Bar of California, 1978, 1979

PUBLICATIONS

  • Co-Author, Employment Litigation (The Rutter Group California Practice Guide). Thomson Reuters.
  • Co-Author, Forensic DNA Evidence: Science and the Law (The Rutter Group Criminal Practice Series). Thomson Reuters.

SELECTED ARTICLES

  • “Closing Argument: Liberty and Individual Responsibility: Partners in Democracy.” USF Lawyer: 34, January 2011.
  • “Judicial Independence: Under Attack Again?”. Hastings Law Journal, July 2010, 61, 1345.
  • “Looking Ahead on the Journey for Diversity.” Judges’ Journal, Summer 2009, Vol 48, No. 3.
  • “An Introduction to the Work of the Commission for Impartial Courts.” California Courts Review, Fall 2007-Winter 2008, 12-14.
  • “Healthcare and Other Social Aspects of Genetics: A Judicial Perspective.” International Journal of Healthcare Technology and Management, Vol. 8, No. 5, 2007, 549.
  • “21st-Century Challenge: The Law Struggles to Keep Up with Advances in Science.” California Courts Review, Winter 2006, 8-13.

Representative Cases

BUSINESS

  • Plaintiff opened a credit card account with defendant Bank and purchased a "credit protector" plan. Under the Plan, the Bank agreed to defer or to credit certain amounts on Plaintiff’s credit card account when a qualifying event occurred, such as long-term disability, unemployment, divorce, military service, or hospitalization. The Bank charged a monthly premium for the Plan based on the amount of Plaintiff’s credit card balance. Later, Plaintiff filed aclass action claim based on the Bank's marketing of the Plan and the handling of a claim she made under it when she lost her job. The operative complaint alleges claims under the Unfair Competition Law, the Consumers Legal Remedies Act, and the False Advertising Law, as well as the Insurance Code.
  • Plaintiff purchased oa 2006 “preowned” Mercedes–Benz S500V. Plaintiff alleged that Defendant violated the Consumer Legal Remedies Act (CLRA) by making false representations about the condition of the automobile. Plaintiff also alleged that Defendant violated several other California laws by (1) failing to separately itemize the amount of the down payment that is deferred to a date after the execution of the sale contract, (2) failing to distinguish registration, transfer, and titling fees from license fees, (3) charging the optional Department of Motor Vehicles electronic filing fee without discussing it or asking if he wanted to pay it, (4) charging new tire fees for used tires, and (5) requiring him to pay $3,700 to have the vehicle certified so he could qualify for the 4.99 percent interest rate, when that payment was actually for an optional extended warranty unrelated to the interest rate. Plaintiff alleged violations of the Automobile Sales Finance Act, the Unfair Competition Law, the Song–Beverly Consumer Warranty Act, and Public Resources Code section 42885.
  • A small dental implant company that had net profits of $101,000 in 1998 sued a university for breach of a contract for the university to clinically test a new implant the company had patented. The company sought damages for lost profits beginning in 1998, ranging from $200 million to over $1 billion. It claimed that, but for the university’s breach of the contract, the company would have become a worldwide leader in the dental implant industry and made many millions of dollars a year in profit.
  • Plaintiff transferred a home-management business to a newly created Company. A separate entity wholly owned by Plaintiff had a 20 percent interest in the new Company. The transactions involved six agreements: (1) a limited liability company (LLC) agreement creating the new Company; (2) a stock purchase agreement; (3) an employment agreement by which the Company employed Plaintiff as its president; (4) a covenant not to compete and confidentiality agreement between Plaintiff and the Company; (5) a consulting agreement; and (6) a guaranty agreement of a promissory note payable by Company to Plaintiff. Problems arose after the execution of the agreements, resulting in Plaintiff’s discharge from his employment with Company. Complaints and cross-complaints were filed asserting claims for breach of contract, breach of fiduciary duty, conversion, fraud, unjust enrichment, and inducement of breach of contract.

CIVIL RIGHTS

  • Defendant in the underlying criminal matter was arrested and charged with two felony counts. She posted bail and was released from custody. At arraignment, the court imposed, as an additional condition of release, that she waive her Fourth Amendment right to be free of warrantless or unreasonable searches. The court granted review to decide whether, when a criminal defendant posts bail, the court has authority to impose additional release conditions.
  • This was an action by Petitioners, American Civil Liberties Union Foundation of Southern California (ACLU), the to compel disclosure of requested automated license plate reader (ALPR) data under the California Public Records Act (CPRA) God. Code., § 5254, subd. (f). Petitioners sought disclosure of this ALPR data "so that the legal and policy implications of the government's use of ALPRs to collect vast amounts of information on almost exclusively law-abiding citizens may be fully and fairly debated.” Respondents claimed that the requested ALPR data are exempt from disclosure as falling within the CPRA provision protecting police and state "[r]ecords of ... investigations" under section 6254, subdivision (f) (section 6254(f)).
  • Dispute regarding whether a labor union had a free speech right on the property of a private shopping mall to urge a boycott of one of the businesses on the property. Union members had distributed leaflets to customers entering and leaving a department store at a shopping mall, stating that the department store advertises in the local paper, and describing several ways that the paper allegedly treated its employees unfairly, and urging customers to call the newspaper's CEO, listing his name and telephone number. Within 15 or 20 minutes, mall officials arrived on the scene to stop the leafleting, notifying the Union members that they were trespassing because they had not obtained a permit from the Mall and warning them that they would be subject to civil litigation and/or arrest if they did not leave.

CLASS ACTION

  • Dispute regarding when an unnamed class action member becomes a party of record with the right to appeal a class action settlement or judgment under CCP section 902. The court held that an unnamed class action member becomes a party of record with the right to appeal the class settlement, judgment, or attorney fees award as an “aggrieved party” under CCP section 902 when they formally intervene in the class litigation before the action is final.

EMPLOYMENT

  • Plaintiffs, security guards at Oracle Park in San Francisco, sued San Francisco Baseball Associates LLC (the Giants) for allegedly violating California Labor Code section 201, which requires that if an employer discharges an employee, the wages earned and unpaid at the time of discharge are due and payable immediately. The guards claimed they are discharged after every Giants homestand, at the end of the baseball season, and after other events at the park, and they are entitled to receive their unpaid wages immediately after each such discharge. The Giants denied that the security guards are discharged on those occasions, and contended that Labor Code section 204, which generally requires semimonthly payment of employees’ wages, applied to the guards.
  • Plaintiff worked as a driver for Defendant transportation company. Plaintiff filed a class action complaint against Defendant, alleging that it failed to pay overtime, provide meal and rest breaks, reimburse business expenses, provide accurate and complete wage statements, or pay final wages in a timely manner. Plaintiff filed a consolidated first amended complaint, alleging seven causes of action for Labor Code violations and an Unfair Competition Law (UCL) claim. Plaintiff brought his claims as an individual and putative class representative seeking damages, and also in a representative capacity under the Private Attorney General Act (PAGA) seeking civil penalties for Labor Code violations.
  • Plaintiff was a former employee of an automobile dealership. As a condition of his employment, Plaintiff signed an agreement which set forth a number of conditions of employment, including consent to drug testing and permission to contact former employers, as well as a provision making the employment at will. The agreement also contained a paragraph governing dispute resolution, which required both parties to submit employment disputes to binding arbitration under the Federal Arbitration Act, in conformity with the procedures of the California Arbitration Act. After leaving his position, Plaintiff filed an administrative wage claim with the Labor Commissioner for unpaid vacation pay pursuant to Labor Code section 98 et seq. He alleged he was entitled to unpaid vacation wages for 63 days. The filing of such a claim is the first step toward obtaining a Berman hearing. Defendant petitioned the superior court to compel arbitration of the wage claim and to dismiss the pending administrative action, arguing that Plaintiff waived his right to a Berman hearing in the arbitration agreement.

ENVIRONMENTAL / CEQA

  • The California Endangered Species Act (CESA) directs the Fish and Game Commission to establish a list of endangered species, which "means a native species or subspecies of a bird, mammal, fish, amphibian, reptile, or plant which is in serious danger of becoming extinct.” In 1995, the Commission added to the list coho salmon in streams south of San Francisco. In 2004, it joined this coho population with coho from San Francisco north to Punta Gorda, and since then has included "Coho salmon ... south of Punta Gorda (Humboldt County)" in its list of endangered species. In this proceeding, plaintiffs filed a petition asking the Commission to redefine the southern boundary of [its coho listing] to exclude coastal streams south of San Francisco, effectively delisting coho salmon south of San Francisco from the register of endangered species. They asserted that, because these fish were "artificially introduced" into the area and have since been "hatchery maintained," they are not "native" within the meaning of CESA and "do not qualify for listing."
  • The Court granted review to determine whether an environmental impact report (EIR), issued as part of a master plan to develop a partial retirement community in Fresno, California, violated the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) for failing to include sufficient information on topics the act requires. The court held that under CEQA, the environmental impact report for a partial retirement community development project failed in part to provide an adequate discussion of health and safety problems that could arise from the development’s creation of various unhealthy air pollutants. The holding concluded that a more detailed and comprehensive description of adverse environmental effects was necessary in order to create better mitigation measures and project alternatives that are required to address the project’s environmental consequences.
  • The Department of Fish and Wildlife (DFW) and the United States Army Corps of Engineers prepared a joint environmental impact statement/environmental impact report (the EIR) for two natural resource plans related to a proposed land development to be developed over about 20 years on almost 12,000 acres of land, consisting of up to 20,885 dwelling units as well as commercial and business uses, schools, golf courses, parks and other community facilities. This case presents three issues regarding the adequacy of the environmental impact report, each issue arising under the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA): (1) Does the environmental impact report validly determine the development would not significantly impact the environment by its discharge of greenhouse gases? (2) Are mitigation measures adopted for protection of a freshwater fish improper because they involve taking of the fish prohibited by the Fish and Game Code? (3) Were plaintiffs' comments on two other areas of disputed impact submitted too late in the environmental review process to exhaust their administrative remedies under Public Resources Code section 21177?

HEALTHCARE

  • Plaintiff filed an action against Defendant health insurance company, alleging claims for unfair competition and false advertising in connection with Defendant’s sale, marketing, and rendering of medical services. Plaintiff alleged that through its misleading and deceptive material representations and omissions, Defendant had employed a fraudulent, unlawful, and/or unfair scheme designed to induce persons to enroll in its health plans by misrepresenting that its primary commitment is to maintain and improve the quality of healthcare provided. Plaintiff alleged that Defendant had been aggressively engaged in implementing undisclosed systemic internal policies that are designed to discourage Insurer’s primary care physicians from delivering medical services and to interfere with the medical judgment of healthcare providers, directly contrary to Defendant's representations. Defendant moved for an order compelling Plaintiff to arbitrate his claims and staying the action pending completion of arbitration. Defendant argued that Plaintiff, who obtained health coverage through his employer, was required to arbitrate his claims under several provisions of the subscriber agreement between his employer and Defendant.

INVERSE CONDEMNATION

  • In an attempt to protect property from historical flooding, a private developer constructed flood control facilities on a plain to divert canyon floodwaters northwest into a nearby channel. When a severe tropical storm occurred in the region, the floods caused by the storm overtopped the dike and levee at the point where the facilities were designed to divert the floodwaters, causing about $20 million in damage. Rains from the storm led to the flooding of the Plaintiffs’ apartment building, which was inundated with water, mud, and debris flowing from the point of the breach in the flood control facilities in a concentrated manner and at an abnormally rapid rate of flow. A wall along the southerly property line collapsed, and mud and debris buried automobiles parked on and adjacent to the property. In view of the damage caused by the storm, the United States Army Corps of Engineers agreed to participate in constructing flood control improvements. Their design, approval, and installation took nearly eight years to complete and cost the District about $7 million. Plaintiffs filed an inverse condemnation action against the District, seeking compensation for its physical invasion and destruction of their property.

PERSONAL INJURY

  • In this tort action arising out of a fatal rollover tour bus accident in Arizona, the parties initially included plaintiffs from China and defendants from both Indiana and California. Plaintiffs alleged causes of action for wrongful death, negligence, strict products liability, loss of consortium, and negligent infliction of emotional distress. Asked to decide which jurisdiction's law applied to the case, the trial court conducted the governmental interest test and concluded that Indiana law governed. Before trial, however, the plaintiffs accepted a settlement offer from the Indiana manufacturer of the tour bus and dismissed that defendant from the case. Review was granted to determine if the trial court should have reconsidered the previous choice of law ruling after that Indiana defendant was no longer a party.

PROFESSIONAL MALPRACTICE

  • Plaintiff hired defendant, a family law specialist, to represent him in his marital dissolution. Defendant agreed to represent him and produced a written retainer agreement for his signature, which he signed and dated. A dispute later arose, and Plaintiff discharged Defendant. He filed a complaint for damages, alleging Defendant had committed professional negligence and a breach of her fiduciary duty to him. In response, Defendant petitioned to compel arbitration of these claims pursuant to Code of Civil Procedure section 1281; she also added her own claim for unpaid attorney fees and costs.
  • Plaintiffs, a minor through his guardian ad litem, and his mother were covered by Medi-Cal. Plaintiffs sought damages for medical malpractice, based on severe injuries claimed to have been suffered by Plaintiff at birth. The second cause of action alleges violation of the Consumer Legal Remedies Act (CLRA), based on allegations that Cigna deceptively and misleadingly advertised the quality of medical services which would be provided under its health care plan. Specifically, plaintiffs alleged that Plaintiff received substandard prenatal medical services, and that she was denied a medically necessary cesarean delivery.

REAL ESTATE

  • In this complex real estate purchase transaction, the seller brought a breach of contract action against the buyers for failing to purchase the subject property. The defendant buyers asserted an affirmative defense of novation, arguing that they were not liable under the purchase agreement because it had been superseded by the parties' option agreement; that option agreement granted them the exclusive right, but not the obligation, to purchase the property.

WAGE & HOUR

  • Case involving whether a certified class of state correctional employees was entitled to additional compensation for time spent on pre- and postwork activities, including traveling from the outermost gate of the prison facility to their work posts within the facility, traveling back from their work posts to the outermost gate, being briefed before the start of a shift, briefing relief staff at the end of a shift, checking out and checking back in mandated safety equipment, putting on and removing such equipment, and submitting to searches at various security checkpoints within the facility.
  • Plaintiff was employed by defendant as a warehouse associate and is a member of a putative class of employees who, during the period alleged in the complaint, were paid on an hourly basis and who, in addition to their normal hourly wages, received an “attendance bonus” if they were scheduled to work on a Saturday or Sunday, and did so, completing the full work shift. The amount of the bonus was a flat sum of $15 per day of weekend work, regardless of whether the employee worked in excess of the normal work shift on the day in question. A dispute arose as to how the employee’s overtime pay rate should be calculated when the employee has earned a flat sum bonus during a single pay period, specifically, what the divisor for purposes of calculating the per-hour value of the bonus should be.