Hon. Evelio M. Grillo (Ret.)


Hon. Evelio M. Grillo (Ret.) is a native of the San Francisco Bay Area and a distinguished legal professional with extensive experience in public service and private practice. After earning a B.A. in political science and a Masters of Public Policy from the University of California at Berkeley, Judge Grillo served as Assistant to the Mayor under Lionel Wilson, Oakland’s first African-American mayor. Following this, he held executive roles at community-based organizations in Boston before obtaining his J.D. from Harvard Law School.

Upon returning to the Bay Area, Judge Grillo practiced transactional real estate and litigation at Pettit and Martin, later focusing on personal injury, business, and probate litigation before establishing his own practice, Grillo & Stevens LLP, in 1996, practicing in the areas of municipal liability, civil rights, business litigation, and personal injury until his appointment to the bench in November 2003.

As a Judge of the Alameda County Superior Court, Judge Grillo presided over more than 200 jury and court trials across civil, criminal, and family law. His civil trial experience spans personal injury, breach of contract, insurance coverage, products liability, real estate, elder abuse, governmental liability, class actions, PAGA, and asbestos cases. Notably, his work in the civil law & motion and civil trial departments resulted in over 50 published appellate decisions in both the Courts of Appeal and the California Supreme Court in such diverse areas as torts, land use, the California Public Records Act, CEQA attorneys’ fees, and arbitration.

Judge Grillo’s dedication to alternative dispute resolution predates his judicial assignment, with over a decade of experience as a court-appointed discovery referee and arbitrator prior to his judicial appointment. On the bench, he served as the Court’s primary settlement judge from 2012 to 2017. In 2017, he spearheaded the establishment of a dedicated settlement department, establishing protocols and serving as its first Supervising Judge of Settlement until 2019. Even during subsequent assignments, Judge Grillo continued to leverage his skills as a settlement judge, facilitating settlements in asbestos and complex cases.

As a mediator, arbitrator, and referee with ADR Services, Inc., Judge Grillo continues to serve as a trusted neutral party, drawing upon his deep understanding of legal complexities and nuanced negotiation techniques to foster constructive dialogue and guide parties towards mutually beneficial outcomes.


  • CEQA
  • Civil Rights
  • Class Actions
  • Complex Litigation
  • Elder Abuse
  • Employment
  • Fee Disputes
  • Insurance/Bad Faith
  • Land Use/Zoning
  • Landlord/Tenant
  • Maritime
  • Partnership Dissolution
  • Personal Injury
  • Probate and Trust
  • Products Liability
  • Real Estate
  • Religious Disputes
  • Wage & Hour/PAGA


  • Juris Doctor, Harvard Law School, 1985
  • Masters of Public Policy, University of California, Berkeley, 1980
  • Bachelor of Arts. Political Science, University of California, Berkeley, 1976


Judge of the Superior Court, Alameda County Superior Court, 2003-2024

  • Complex Litigation, 2021-2023
  • Judicial Council assignment, Coordinating Trial Judge for JCCP cases filed in Northern California, 2021-2023
  • Superior Court Appellate Panel, Supervising Judge, 2021
  • Superior Court Appellate Panel, Member, 2019, 2020
  • Civil Direct Calendar, 2018-2021
  • Settlement Department, Supervising Judge, 2016-2017
  • Civil Law & Motion and Writs & Receivers, 2012-2016
  • Civil Direct Calendar, 2009-2011
  • General Criminal Law, 2006-2008
  • Family Law, 2003-2005

Judicial Committees and Activities

  • Alameda County Superior Court, Executive Committee
  • Alameda County Superior Court, Civil Committee
  • Alameda County Superior Court, Personnel Committee
  • Alameda County Superior Court, Self-Represented Litigants Sub-Committee
  • Alameda County Superior Court, Access Committee
  • Alameda County Superior Court, ADR Committee


Partner, Grillo & Stevens LLP, Oakland, CA, 1995-2003

  • Represented municipalities, businesses and individuals at the trial and appellate levels with emphasis on civil rights and employment, and business torts. Served for eight years as court-appointed discovery referee and special master in commercial and business litigation, and as a court-appointed arbitrator in business and personal injury litigation.

Attorney, San Francisco, CA, 1985-1994

  • Represented corporations and partnerships in complex commercial and business litigation, including real estate, labor, breach of contract, lender liability and fraud claims, and individuals in general civil and personal injury litigation while associated with Pettit & Martin, Levy, Samrick & Bernard, Inc., and Arnelle & Hastie.


  • Trial Judge of the Year, Alameda-Contra Costa Trial Lawyers Association (ACCTLA), 2021
  • Trial Judge of the Year, Alameda-Contra Costa Trial Lawyers Association (ACCTLA), 2015
  • Judicial Excellence Award, East Bay La Raza Lawyers Association


  • Alameda County Bar Association, Member, 1994-Present
  • Alameda County Bar Association, Board of Directors, 1994-1997
  • California Judges Association
  • Complex Civil Litigation Judges’ Workshop, 2022-2024


  • Lecturer, Berkeley Law (formerly Boalt Hall), Civil Trial Practice, 2022, 2023, 2024
  • Clinical Instructor, Stanford Law School Student Advocacy Workshop, 1995-1996, 1998, 2002-2010
  • Instructor, Oakland College of Law, Civil Procedure, 1992-1993, 1994-1995, 1995-1996, 2000-2001, 2002-2003


  • California Civil Discovery, Matthew Bender & Co. (2004-2020) (Co-Author and Editor).
  • Pretrial Proceedings, California Forms of Pleading and Practice, Matthew Bender & Co. (1996).
  • Impact of New Sanctions Statute on Litigation in California, California Forms of Pleading and Practice, Matthew Bender & Co., February 1995.
  • Union Bank v. Superior Court: California’s Celotex, California Litigation, Fall 1995.
  • Planning and Executing a Successful Motion for Summary Judgment, Los Angeles Daily Journal, November 15, 1994.
  • More Thoughts on Summary Judgment, Los Angeles Daily Journal, November 16, 1994.
  • Try Judicial Notice in Pre-Trial Process, Los Angeles Daily Journal, September 24, 1992.


Fly fishing, hiking, swimming, cooking (3x winner, Alan Broussard Memorial Gumbo Cook-Off), and reading.

Representative Cases


  • Personal injury/wrongful death actions for mesothelioma arising from exposure to asbestos in industrial settings.
  • Personal injury/wrongful death actions for mesothelioma arising from take-home exposure.
  • Personal injury/wrongful death actions for mesothelioma with exposure arising from refractory work.

Class Actions/JCCP Coordinated Cases

  • Class action claims for lost pension benefits filed against governmental entity.
  • Class action claims for sexual abuse committed by members of the clergy.
  • Toxic Tort cases involving products liability claims for pharmaceuticals, food and clothing.
  • Class actions and consolidated multiple plaintiffs filed by tenants of multi-unit building involving claims of breach of warranty of habitability and breach of covenant of quiet enjoyment.

Civil Rights

  • Cases for wrongful arrest, personal injury and wrongful death arising from police/citizen interaction.

Consumer Credit

  • Action under the UCL law for injunctive relief for obtaining judgments without service of process.

Discovery Disputes

  • Discovery referee in lost insurance policy case involving four national insurers.
  • Ruled on discovery motions and resolved discovery disputes in multiple related actions for race discrimination and in JCCP coordinated actions for products liability.

Elder Abuse

  • Multiple consolidated actions for Elder Abuse by residents of nursing home under Elder Abuse statute while under the care of nursing home.
  • Resolved personal injury claims for elder abuse and claims for wrongful death arising from care received in nursing home.


  • Action for sex discrimination based on failure to promote female employee.
  • Action for wrongful termination based on disability discrimination.
  • Actions for racial discrimination based on race harassment.
  • Action for wrongful termination base on race.
  • Action for wrongful termination based on sex.

    Environmental Law

    • Ruled on multiple challenges to Environmental Impact Reports

    Government Liability

    • Resolved simple and catastrophic personal injury actions and wrongful death actions against governmental entities based on design defect and negligence of government employee.
    • Resolved personal injury actions against municipality based on alleged police misconduct.
    • Resolved action against municipality for diverting storm drainage onto private property.


    • Resolved multiple bad faith insurance actions for failure to settle homeowner claims.
    • Resolved bad faith and declaratory relief insurance actions for failure to provide insurance coverage.

    Landlord Tenant

    • Resolved multiple individual actions involving claims of wrongful eviction and breach of warranty of habitability.
    • Resolved multiple related and/or consolidated actions, and class actions filed by tenants against owners of multi-unit apartments alleging breach of warranty of habitability, breach of covenant of quiet enjoyment, wrongful eviction, and violations of local rent control ordinances.

    Personal Injury

    • Resolved multiple individual personal injury claims including auto tort, premises liability, assault and battery, vicious dog, general negligence and third-party tortfeasor workplace injury.
    • Presided over and tried Maritime Law jury trial personal injury action and resolved Maritime Law personal injury cases in settlement conference.
    • Individual and class action cases for products liability and personal injury cases involving toxic torts pharmaceuticals, chemical exposure, and design and manufacture of defective products.

    Private Attorney General Act (PAGA)

    • Presided over and tried PAGA wage and hour cases.
    • Presided over and tried PAGA seating cases filed against national retailer.

    Trusts and Probate

    • Resolved trust governance disputes between competing trustees and breach of fiduciary duty actions and actions by trust beneficiaries.
    • Resolved will contests, pretermitted heir, and intestate inheritance disputes.
    • Resolved UFTA transfer of assets cases filed by the elderly, persons of diminished capacity, and the estates, heirs and conservators.

    Products Liability

    • Cases involving incorporation of formaldehyde into uniforms of flight attendants resulting in multiple nationwide claims for personal injury.
    • Cases for claims of contaminated pharmaceuticals under theories of manufacturing and design defect.
    • Cases for claims of chemical contamination of clothing arising under Proposition 65.
    • Cases for food contamination and additives arising under Proposition 65.

    Real Property

    • Cases involving wrongful foreclosure (as both settlement judge and trial judge).
    • Cases involving buyer/broker/seller fraud in the purchase and sale and leasing of real property.
    • Cases involving breach of contract in the purchase and sale of real property.
    • Leasehold disputes.
    • Cases involving failed real estate transactions.
    • Cases involving co-tenancy disputes.
    • Cases involving easement disputes, including existence of easements, location disputes, burdening of easement, and maintenance disputes.
    • Cases involving claims of prescriptive easement and adverse possession.

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