Hon. Wayne L. Peterson (Ret.)


The Honorable Wayne L. Peterson was the Presiding Judge of the San Diego Superior Court, and Chair of the Superior Court’s Executive Committee, for the period October 1998 through December 2001. The San Diego Superior Court is the second largest trial court in California and the third largest trial court in the United States, with 128 judges, 25 commissioners and referees, 1,600 employees and a budget of $250 million.

Judge Peterson also served as the Assistant Presiding Judge; the Supervising Judge of the Criminal Division; and the Presiding Judge of the Appellate Division. He was Chairman of the Superior Court Master Plan Committee representing the Court’s interest in San Diego County’s site selection, design and construction of the Hall of Justice.

During his 20 years on the bench Judge Peterson served six years in the Criminal Division and ten years in the Civil Division, managing an inventory of 525 – 600 cases, including those dealing with employment law, professional malpractice, business disputes, real property, personal injury, class actions, toxic torts and the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA).

During 2000 and 2001 he served, by appointment of the Chief Justice, as Chair of the Trial Court Presiding Judges Advisory Committee to the State Judicial Council, the policy-making body of the California judiciary, and as such served as a member of the Judicial Council. The Chief Justice also appointed him a member, and Chair, of the Task Force on Judicial Ethics Issues.

He was one of four judges appointed by the Chief Justice to sit as a member of the Court Facilities Task Force, a legislative body created in 1998 to advise the legislature with regard to ownership, maintenance and design of all court facilities in California; and served as Chair of the Task Force’s Subcommittee on Court Facilities Design Standards.

Judge Peterson was the recipient of the California Judges Association 2001 President’s Award for outstanding service to the state judiciary, and the recipient of the San Diego County Bar Association’s Legal Professional of the Year Award in 2001. In 1998 the Consumer Attorneys of San Diego named him Trial Judge of the Year. The San Diego Defense Bar selected him as its Distinguished Jurist of 2008. He is a Master of the American Inns of Court, William B. Enright chapter; and served on the Board of Directors of the San Diego Inn of Court. He is also a member of the San Diego chapter of the Association of Business Trial Lawyers, and is a past member of its Board of Directors. He has taught and lectured on trial advocacy.

Judge Peterson, during his term as Presiding Judge, was instrumental in the implementation of a successful court-sponsored mediation program. He has taught and lectured on mediation in Malaysia and India on behalf of the U.S. State Department and the World Bank. He participated with the Subordinate Courts of Singapore in its innovative transpacific judicial video settlement conference program.

The Daily Journal recognized Judge Peterson as a “Top Master Neutral” for 2013 and in 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009 and 2010 Judge Peterson was selected by the Daily Journal as one of the Top 50 Neutrals in California.

Since joining ADR Services, Inc. in February 2004, Judge Peterson has successfully mediated cases resulting in settlements in the millions of dollars; he has also acted as a private judge and arbitrator in medical malpractice, business, personal injury and real property matters. He has extensive experience as a court appointed discovery master in multi-party complex litigation cases.

He is a former Deputy District Attorney for the County of San Diego and Research Attorney for the Fourth District Court of Appeal. He was in private practice for 17 years, specializing in litigation, real property and Fire District law. He served on the Alpine School District Board of Trustees from 1972 to 1983, with two terms as President of the Board.

Judge Peterson received his Bachelor of Science degree from San Diego State University and his Juris Doctor degree from California Western School of Law, which named him its Alumnus of the Year in 2002. He is a past President of the alumni association.

Governor George Deukmejian appointed Judge Peterson to the Municipal Court in 1984, and elevated him to the Superior Court in 1986.

Representative Cases


“Judge Peterson is always professional and excellent. We use him frequently and think he is one of the best mediators in California.”