Hon. Richard S. Flier (Ret.)

Profile

Hon. Richard S. Flier (Ret.) has settled or conducted trials dealing with the full spectrum of legal issues during his twenty years as a Superior Court Judge. His career included three separate tours as a Civil Fast Track judge handling issue conferences and settlement conferences as well as trials and summary judgment motions. Recognized as a patient, courteous and perceptive judge who has a tremendous capacity to quickly grasp issues, he is very effective in guiding parties toward resolution.

Professional Experience

  • Judge, Superior Court, County of Contra Costa. Elected June 5, 1984 (defeated Judge David E. Pesonen) for term commencing January 7, 1985. Re-elected in 1990, 1996 and 2002.
  • Assignments included Civil Fast Track, General Trials, Family Law, Criminal Calendar and Appellate Department.
  • Committee Assignments included Budget Committee (Chair), Court Reporters’ Committee, Criminal Law Judges, Fast Track Judges, Recognition Committee and Social Committee.
  • Deputy District Attorney, Contra Costa County, October 1973 – January 1985 (1977 set record for most Felony Trial Days in a year). Assignments included Misdemeanor trials, Preliminary Examinations, Felony Trial Team, Felony Expediter and Richmond Felony Filing Deputy.
  • Hearing Examiner, California Office of Administrative Hearings, State General Services Administration, San Francisco, March 1972 – September 1973.
  • Law Clerk, Law Firm of Parichan & Krebs, Fresno, California summer of 1968

Held numerous part-time non-legal jobs while attending high school through law school. This included a multi-year stint as a cook, carhop, soda jerk and dishwasher at the family restaurant, a sales clerk in Men’s Clothing and a seasonal sales manager in Linens (Macy’s).

Representative Matters

  • Trial Judge of the Shell oil spill cases which tried to verdict, 1989
  • Trial Judge of the Bank of the West case regarding the definition of “advertising” coverage.
  • Jones Act wrongful death to an engineer aboard a tanker.
  • Sexual harassment claims involving employees of large corporations.

ADR Experience and Qualifications

  • Extensive settlement experience in a wide variety of complex legal issues and problems from “slip and fall” to wrongful death, professional malpractice, employment problems, eminent domain, real estate, construction issues, insurance, business and commercial.
  • Assigned exclusively to civil matters, 1988 – 1991, 1999 – 2000 and 2002
  • Served as a judge in Bench-Bar Settlement Program.
  • Regularly assigned additional settlement conferences and mediations even while not on the Civil Bench.
  • Noted for patience, persistence, inventive solutions and the ability to resolve difficult cases involving difficult people.
  • Conducted numerous bench trials involving attorney fee disputes, sight-line property disputes, contract interpretation, inverse condemnation, statutory interpretation, construction issues and partnership dissolution.

Mediation Training

  • “Strategic Negotiation Skills” given in Woodstock, Vermont October 15-19, 2009 by Pepperdine University School of Law, 18 hours of training.
  • “Mediation Training” presented by Steven Rosenberg in Marin County, March 2005. This was a 40 hour program over a period of two weeks.
  • “Mediation & Conflict Resolution Seminar” presented by Ronald Kelly. This was done through UC Berkeley Extension, Continuing Education Unit (CEU), April 2005. This was also a 40 hour program

Honors, Memberships and Professional Activities

  • Member, California State Bar Committee on Alternative Dispute Resolution, 2011 –
  • Judge of the Year, Italian American Bar Association, 2010
  • California Judges’ Association, 1985 – present
  • Robert G. McGrath American Inns of Court, 1999 – present
  • Contra Costa County Trial Judge of the Year, 2000, ACCTLA
  • Panelist, “Civil Case Management,” 1999, Contra Costa County Bar Association in conjunction with Superior Court ADR.
  • Moderator, “Courtroom Conduct: Tactics, Ethics, Contempt and Common Sense,” 1991, CEB
  • Panelist, “Law and Motion Practice in the Bay Area,” 1990, Barristers’ Club of San Francisco
  • Alumni Association, Hastings College of the Law
  • Alumni Association, University of California
  • Rotary Club of Pleasant Hill, (President 2004 – 2005)
  • California Marching Band Alumni Association

Teaching/Lecturers/Panelists

  • Moderator, CEB Program, “Courtroom Conduct: Tactics, Ethics, Contempt and Common Sense,” 1991
  • Panelist, “Civil Case Management,” 1999 sponsored by Contra Costa County Bar Association – Litigation Section and the Alternative Dispute Resolution Committee
  • Diablo Valley College, Law Day Speaker, Liberty Bell Award

Education

  • J.D., 1971, Hastings College of the Law, San Francisco, Round Winner, Moot Court Competition
  • B.A., 1967, University of California, Berkeley, Political Science

Bar Memberships

  • 1972 admitted to the California Bar, U.S. District Court, Northern District of California and U.S. Court of Appeals, Ninth Circuit

Representative Cases

Probate, Trusts & Estates

  • The original trustee (father) used resources of the residual trust without restoring them. He also undervalued his business which is part of the trust. When he died, his sons brought an action against the successor trustee, their step-mother, to make adjustments.
  • One beneficiary brought an action in probate to remove her sister as trustee. This sister had brought an action on behalf of the trust to rescind a loan transaction with the bank dealing with trust property. Because fraud was alleged in the answer against the trustee, the court found a conflict of interest and appointed a temporary trustee. The lending bank, loan broker, and temporary trustee were involved in the mediation with the beneficiaries and the trustee. All of the siblings opposed their sister who brought the original action to remove the trustee.
  • Beneficiaries disputed the trustee's action of reducing his personal note to the trust when the settler's taxes were paid.
  • Sons accused their sister of misleading their mother (trustee) in the performance of her trust duties. She was also accused of misappropriating money from the trust for her own use. The trust interest of these children only arises after the mother dies.
  • Father set up an estate plan where his children are tenants in common with him on the family house. He forced them to sign over their interest to others depending upon who is out of favor with him at any given time. When he died, many issues arose dealing with the effect of a son's bankruptcy on the title to the land as well as contribution to the estate for taxes/expenses paid by the executor on behalf of the estate.
  • A case involving an allegation that a temporary conservator was overcharging for services and making poor administration decisions.
  • Family of decedent contested the will of the decedent which gave all of her assets to her boyfriend/fiancé. They claimed that he was guilty of undue influence and other equitable grounds.
  • Successor trustee (daughter) is accused of misfeasance in receiving $260,000 from trust assets and in helping the settler make an ill-advised 1031 property exchange.
  • Son purchased family home from parents and gave a note. The father outlived his estate plan and the daughter tried to force the son to fund father's retirement using the pre-payment of the note.
  • Siblings disputed the management of their mother's living trust, especially as it deals with a motel which is run by the trustee (another sibling). They also contested the various fees charged upon their mother's death.
  • Beneficiaries accused the trustee/executor of stealing inherited items and mismanaging the real property holdings of the trust/estate.
  • Trustee found trust documents which reflect two attempts to change the ultimate distributions. When the settler died, the objector only wanted part of the changes to be made effective.
  • A case in which other beneficiaries wanted all of the changes to be made effective. Only some of the changes were legally appropriate.

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