After 25 years of service as a trial judge in the Orange County courts, Judge Gray is available as a mediator, arbitrator and discovery referee. Known for his work in creating novel programs aimed at curbing repeat alcohol-related and juvenile offenses, Judge Gray began to cultivate a reputation as an innovative jurist who proactively crafted creative solutions to the problems before him. After being elevated to the Superior Court in 1989, Judge Gray presided over calendars in civil, criminal, probate, adoptions, mental health and juvenile courts.

Judge Gray’s experienced realism, creativity, practicality, and disciplined optimism make him an ideal neutral to address and resolve tort and business disputes, as well as problems based upon emotion and company politics. During his years on the Superior Court, Judge Gray became known for settling the “unsettleable” cases. For example, he settled what was likely the first Catholic priest child sexual molestation case in the country, resulting in positive institutional changes in the Orange County and Los Angeles Dioceses of the Catholic Church. He also settled the difficult Wade Boggs palimony case, among others.

Areas of Expertise

  • Business / Commercial Contract Disputes
  • Real Estate (Commercial, Residential, Landlord – Tenant, HOA)
  • Construction
  • Employment, Wage & Hour, Wrongful Termination, PAGA
  • Probate
  • Legal Malpractice
  • Insurance / Bad Faith
  • Personal Injury
  • Discovery Reference
  • Medical Malpractice


  • 1966 University of California, Los Angeles, B.A.
  • 1971 University of Southern California School of Law, J.D.

Professional Experience

Judicial Experience

  • 1989 – 2009 Orange County Superior Court Judge
  • 1983 – 1989 Orange County Municipal Court, Central Orange County District

Legal & Trial Experience

  • 1978 – 1983 Wyman, Bautzer, Rothman and Kuchel – Business litigation
  • 1975 – 1978 Office of the United States Attorney, Los Angeles – Assistant US Attorney for the Criminal Division – Headed a unit prosecuting various frauds against the VA, FHA and other governmental agencies
  • 1972 – 1975 Navy JAG Corps – Staff Judge Advocate and Criminal Defense Attorney

Past & Current Memberships

  • Founder of Peer Court, a diversion program in which real juvenile cases are submitted to high school jurors for recommended sentences in 14 Orange County high schools.
  • Peace Corps Volunteer, Palmar Norte, Costa Rica (1966-68), and speaks Spanish
  • California Judicial Council
  • Orange County Superior Court Executive Committee
  • William P. Gray Chapter of the American Inns of Court, Founding President
  • USC Law School Board of Councilors
  • Orange County Board of Supervisors Alcohol Advisory Board
  • California Department of Alcohol & Drug Programs Advisory Board
  • Volunteer Center of Orange County Board of Directors
  • Orange County Law Library Board of Directors
  • California Judicial Council Committee on Juvenile Justice
  • Constitutional Rights Foundation of Orange County
  • Association of Business Trial Lawyers
  • Orange County Trial Lawyers Association

Publications & Teaching

Over the years, Judge Gray has volunteered as a guest lecturer on numbers of professional subjects for the Continuing Education of the Bar (“CEB”), the College of Trial Advocacy (“COTA”), and the Business Litigation and the Probate Sections of the Orange County Bar Association.  He has also taught an undergraduate class on the Criminal Justice System at Chapman University in Orange, California, and was a guest presenter at the Chapman University Law School in 2006 at their forum entitled “Are We at War?”

He is the author of three books and the composer of a high school musical:

Why Our Drug Laws Have Failed, and What We Can Do About It – A Judicial Indictment of the War on Drugs. 2001 (2d Edition, 2012) by Temple University Press.

Wearing the Robe: the Art and Responsibilities of Judging in Today’s Courts. 2008 by Square One Press.

A Voter’s Handbook: Effective Solutions to America’s Problems. 2010 by The Forum Press.

“Americans All” – Full length and condensed versions which encourage young people to make good decisions while having good fun along the way.


Judge James P. Gray is the son of Elizabeth Gray and the distinguished late Federal District Court Judge William P. Gray (1912 – 2002).

He has also been awarded honorary Doctor of Laws degrees by both Western State University School of Law and Chapman University School of Law, and the Constitutional Rights Foundation of Orange County annually names a recipient of the “Honorable James P. Gray Judge of the Year” award.

Judge Gray is married to Grace Walker Gray; has four children, including an adopted Vietnamese son; is a member of the United Methodist church; lives in Newport Beach, California; wrote a weekly column about many diverse subjects for the Daily Pilot newspaper; and through the years has contributed more than 60-legal related articles to the Los Angeles Daily Journal.

Representative Cases


“Judge Gray was insightful, efficient and effective, as always. He gets cases settled.”

“As always, Judge Gray was courteous, thoughtful, skilled, excellent at mediating and a pleasure to work with and obtained a good result for all parties.”

“Judge Gray was well prepared and zeroed in on a fair settlement value early in the day Judge Gray led the parties to a fair resolution that they would have never reached without his involvement.”

“Judge Gray was excellent! My first time using him and he settled a difficult to settle case that really needed to settle.”

“Another successful mediation with Judge Gray. Thank you.”

“Judge Gray handled a contentious dispute between the involved parties in a highly effective manner that resulted in a settlement of the entire action. His demeanor in dealing with the varying personalities involved was not only respectful, but also impactful. Additionally, his discussions of the legal and practical issues were both clear and persuasive. ”

“Judge Gray is fantastic, as is the staff and facility. We’ll be back.”

“Judge Gray cares and is straight at all turns…”

“Judge Gray did a great job getting the case settled. Another successful mediation with Judge Gray. Thank you.”

“As usual, Judge Gray was outstanding and able to professionally move the parties to full resolution.”

“Judge Gray did an amazing job in helping us reach resolution.”

It was a difficult case to resolve. Judge Gray did a great job and brought the case to a global settlement”