Hon. Michael I. Levanas (Ret.)


Hon. Michael I. Levanas (Ret.) is a distinguished and respected mediator and arbitrator with 21 years of judicial experience as a Judge and Commissioner of the Los Angeles Superior Court. Throughout his career, he has demonstrated an unwavering dedication to the principles of fairness, integrity, and impartiality within the judicial system.

Judge Levanas earned his B.A. in Economics from the University of California, San Diego, before obtaining his J.D. from Rutgers University. Following graduation from law school, he commenced his legal career at the Los Angeles County Public Defender’s Office. Subsequently, he transitioned to private practice as a Partner at a distinguished civil and criminal defense firm located in Santa Monica, focusing on handling dependency cases.

Judge Levanas brings a wealth of judicial experience and expertise to his ADR practice. In 2002, he was elected by the Judges of the Los Angeles Superior Court to be a Commissioner. He was the first Commissioner to serve as the Assistant Site Judge at the Metropolitan Courthouse, before transitioning to the Stanley Mosk Courthouse to serve as a Family Law Commissioner. In 2005, Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger appointed him as a Judge.

While on the bench, Judge Levanas presided over various areas of law, including Family Law, Probate, Mental Health, and Juvenile Courts. In addition, Judge Levanas was selected to serve in court leadership as the Supervising Judge of the Probate and Mental Health courts and as the Presiding Judge of the 50 Los Angeles County Juvenile Courts. His knowledge and insight made him a sought-after speaker, and he regularly presented to bar associations on a range of family law and probate related topics, including custody and visitation issues, family law trial advocacy, and litigation and negotiation strategies. In his final four years on the bench, Judge Levanas presided over Civil Trials at the Santa Monica Courthouse, demonstrating his versatility and command of civil matters, including elder abuse, landlord/tenant, medical malpractice, partnership dissolution, and personal injury.

Judge Levanas possesses an exceptional reputation among his peers, attorneys, and litigants. His remarkable attention to detail and extensive legal expertise have earned him widespread respect. Attorneys particularly appreciate his patience, gracious demeanor, and ability to diffuse tension through the judicious use of humor. Known for his even-tempered nature, Judge Levanas goes above and beyond to ensure that each party feels heard and valued. In 2014, he was named Judge of the Year by the Pasadena Bar Association.


  • Elder Abuse
  • Family Law
  • Fee Disputes
  • Landlord/Tenant
  • Medical Malpractice
  • Minor’s Compromise
  • Partnership Dissolution
  • Personal Injury
  • Probate, Estates & Trusts


Judge of the Los Angeles Superior Court    2005-2023

  • Civil Trials, Santa Monica Courthouse, 2019-2023
  • Presiding Judge, Juvenile Courts, 2015-2018
  • Supervising Judge, Probate and Mental Health, Stanley Mosk, 2014-2015
  • Probate Court, Stanley Mosk, 2009-2014
  • Family Law/Probate, Santa Monica, 2007-2009
  • Probate Court, Stanley Mosk, 2006-2007
  • Family Law Court, Stanley Mosk, 2005-2006

Commissioner of the Los Angeles Superior Court    2002-2005

  • Family Law Commissioner, Stanley Mosk, 2004-2005
  • Assistant Site Judge, Metropolitan Courthouse, 2002-2003


Private Practice    1979-2002

  • Partner, Randolph and Levanas, 1992-2002
  • Partner, Overland, Berke, Wesley, Gits, Randolph and Levanas, 1981-1992
  • Partner, Randolph and Levanas, 1980-1981
  • Partner, Selman and Levanas, 1979-1980

Los Angeles County Public Defender’s Office    1975-1979

  • Juvenile Court, Deputy in Charge, 1978-1979
  • Central Misdemeanors, 1977-1978
  • Traffic Misdemeanors, 1976-1977
  • Preliminary Hearings, 1975-1976


  • Juris Doctor, Rutgers University, 1974
  • Bachelor of Arts in Economics, University of California, San Diego, 1971


Judge Levanas is often asked to present to various bar associations and professional groups. For a complete list of his speaking engagements, please visit his website at www.JudgeLevanas.com.

Representative Cases


  • Judge Levanas served four years as a trial judge handling civil trials and mediations. In that time, he handled a wide variety of matters, including partnership disputes, fraud and breach of contract matters, breach of fiduciary duty, and attorney fee disputes.
  • Lawsuit brought by a regional hospital against a large integrated managed care consortium to recover fair and reasonable payments for providing emergency room care to consortium members. A contract existed between the parties for payment of emergency case for years. When the contract expired, the consortium unilaterally determined a fair and reasonable rate for those services for 30% of the contracted rate. After trial, the jury awarded judgment for the hospital of over $66 million dollars.
  • Action for breach of contract, conversion, misrepresentation of trade secrets and unfair business practices involving the wrongful taking of patients from one dental practice to another by a dental hygienist and a second dentist.
  • Breach of contract action involving negligent demolition and mold remediation at apartment building.
  • Commercial unlawful detainer action involving a boutique business embedded in the hotel property for delay in opening the shop.


    • Judge Levanas served four years as a trial judge in Family Court and also served four years as the Presiding Judge of the 50 Los Angeles County Juvenile Courts. As a result, he has developed noted expertise in all facets of:

      • Child custody and visitation
      • Child support
      • Community and separate property
      • Spousal support
      • Domestic violence
      • Move-aways
      • Physical and sexual abuse allegations
      • Grandparent visitation
      • Adoptions
      • Attorney’s fee issues


    • Judge Levanas served four years as a trial judge handling civil trials and mediations. In that time, he handled a wide variety of matters, including medical malpractice involving doctors, podiatrists, and chiropractors.
    • Medical malpractice case against podiatrist for negligence in failing to refer patient to a specialist resulting in the amputation of both of plaintiff's legs. Judgment in favor of defendant as the statute of limitations ran before Plaintiff filed lawsuit.
    • Medical malpractice case for negligent medical care that caused a perforation of plaintiff's bowel.


    • Judge Levanas served four years as a trial judge handling civil trials and mediations. In that time, he handled a wide variety of matters, including numerous personal injury and wrongful death matters involving vehicles, motorcycles, bicyclists, pedestrians, defective premises and dog bites.
    • Negligence and survival action by a mother against a private beach club for the death of her son who died as a result of heat exhaustion after participating in a club sponsored pickleball tournament, resulting in an eight-figure verdict.
    • Passenger on a motorcycle brought personal injury action against a driver of a car who negligently exited a dirt turnout onto Mt. Baldy Road. Additional defendants included the City of Claremont for failing to properly maintain shrubbery on an easement adjacent to the turnout and against Los Angeles County for failing to properly maintain the dirt turnout. Verdict for eight figures against driver with 15% liability to the City of Claremont.
    • Wrongful death and survival action involving a 21-year-old bicyclist who died after pitching over the handlebars of his bicycle and skidding under the wheels of a semi-tractor-trailer traveling next to him on Crenshaw Boulevard in the City of Hawthorne. While the sudden movement of the bicycle was hard to understand, the evidence showed that the bicyclist was holding a Jamba Juice in the right hand while riding and the gutter on the side of the road had puddles of water in it.
    • Personal injury case brought by a tour bus passenger for head injuries allegedly caused when the tour bus driver moved the bus before all passengers were seated. Plaintiff suffered head injury and neurological damages.
    • Wrongful death action brought by the parents of a 24-year-old woman who fell from the train platform at the Sylmar/San Fernando Metrolink Station. Defendant was the company that was contracted to provide security at the station and specifically involved alleged negligence of the security officer at the time the train came into the station. Also, the case involved alleged drug use by the deceased.
    • Complex mesothelioma case involving a dying plaintiff and 17 defendants. After a two-month trial, a judgment was entered for Plaintiff against the remaining unsettled defendants for $5 million dollars.
    • Personal injury action against a motorcyclist who was lane splitting between the HOV and number one lane of travel on the freeway when he was hit by a vehicle traveling in the same direction. The jury awarded Plaintiff $3 million dollars with a 30% contributory to motorcyclist.
    • Personal injury action brought by hotel guest against hotel and against the manufacturer of allegedly defective furniture that collapsed causing significant injury to guest. Verdict for defendants.

    view all


    • Premises liability and negligence action for injuries sustained due to the negligent construction and maintenance of a stage at a hotel in Santa Monica. Plaintiff was the Master of Ceremonies for an event at the hotel and suffered substantial injuries when she fell into a gap in the stage.
    • Premises liability action by Plaintiff/hotel guest against hotel for eye injuries he suffered when a showerhead flew off causing severe eye damage.
    • Premises liability case against owner of apartment building for damages suffered by Plaintiff due to disrepair of stairs at apartment complex.


    • Judge Levanas served six years as a trial judge in Probate Court and also served as the Supervising Judge of the Los Angeles County Probate and Mental Health Courts. He has significant experience and knowledge in the following areas: proving up wills, will contents, undue influence, trust disputes, breach of fiduciary duty of trustee, trustee accounting and distributors issues, trustee compensation, no contest clause issues, attorney fees, conservatorship of person and estate, limited conservatorships, guardianship of person and estate, LPS conservatorship, elder abuse Issues and minor's compromise.
    • Case involving the sale of the Los Angeles Clippers from a trust to a well-known executive. After an extended trial, the court found that the trustee lacked capacity and therefore removed him as co-trustee of the Sterling Trust. The court then approved the sale of the Clippers by the remaining co-trustee. The court also found that the sale price of $2 billion dollars was a fair and reasonable price for the LA Clippers franchise.
    • Action by beneficiaries of a substantial trust against a professional trustee for breach of fiduciary duty. The allegations were that the trustee failed to anticipate a drop in the stock market which caused a multimillion-dollar loss to the trust.
    • Trial involved a request by a 14-year-old actress, a star in a popular television show, to have her adult sister to be appointed as her guardian. Petitioner alleged that her mother and father were physically and emotionally abusing her. The court granted her request and ordered her mother and father to have no contact with petitioner and to have no involvement in her professional career.
    • Case involved the right of contingent beneficiaries of a trust to obtain an accounting from a trustee for the period before the trust creator's death. The court held that once conditional beneficiaries’ income vested in trust assets, the beneficiaries’ rights mature into present and enforceable rights - including the right to a pre-death accounting. The case is important as elder abuse often occurs in the years leading up to the trust creator's death.


      • Petition for a writ of mandamus relating to USC's expulsion of a student for sexual abuse of another student. Plaintiff argued that the Title IX Administrative hearing as USC was flawed. This action followed a finding by another Superior Court judge that a previous Title IX hearing was flawed due to off the record comments of the first USC investigator. This court found the second administrative hearing, with a new investigator, was fundamentally fair and upheld the expulsion.


      “Superb communicator and problem solver.”

      “Excellent Judge!! A wonderful, fair, impartial human being.”

      “As someone who has come across a variety of judges, I wanted you to know I truly appreciated your wisdom, fairness, humor, kindness, and honest demeanor.”

      “I appreciate your taking the time to make us feel respected…and I admire your role in bringing justice to our community.”

      “Litigants and counsel alike trust his decisions because they are grounded in the law and reflect hard work and his humanity.”

      “Judge Levanas is interested in people and has a good sense of humor. He is serious about his work but doesn’t take himself too seriously. He has an exceptional judicial temperament and demeanor.”

      “It is an enormous tribute to his judicial talents that Judge Levanas was the first Commissioner ever asked to serve as an Assistant Site Judge of a courthouse. In the high-volume, emotion filled and intensely stressful judicial assignment, Judge Levanas has consistently displayed unfailing courtesy to counsel and litigants.”

      “I would describe Judge Levanas as knowledgeable, well-prepared, skillful, and one who demonstrated the highest degree of legal ethics.”

      “Judge Levanas has established such an outstanding reputation in our family law court. He was assigned a portion of another bench officer’s caseload, who felt overloaded. Judge Levanas has earned the trust and respect of the family law bar.”

      “Judge Levanas is fair, effective at calendar management and open to feedback on ways to make things run more smoothly.”

      “Judge Levanas handles his courtroom with patience, graciousness, and judicious use of levity, which can help ease tensions. He runs a comfortable courtroom. He’s probably about as even tempered as any judge I’ve dealt with.”

      “Judge Levanas goes out of his way to let the parties and witnesses know that he’s listening to them and what they say matters.”