Hon. Mary Fingal Schulte retired from the Orange County Superior Court in 2017 after 20 years on the bench. She enjoyed a distinguished judicial career as a respected trial judge, having herself been an experienced trial lawyer and civil litigator for nearly 20 years before her appointment to the bench. In 2016, Judge Schulte received the Trial Judge of the Year Award from the Orange County Chapter of the American Board of Trial Advocates (ABOTA).
For the last 14 years of her judicial career, Judge Schulte held various civil assignments and has presided over general jurisdiction civil trials, probate and mental health hearings and trials, appellate panel hearings, and long cause family law trials. She was Supervising Judge of the Probate/Mental Health Panel from 2009-2014, and Assistant Presiding Judge of the Appellate Panel from 2008-2009. In addition, she was actively involved in several court committees, including the executive committee; the temporary judge committee, where she developed and supervised the first courtwide training program for the court’s temporary judges and a settlement training program for the Probate Panel’s temporary judges; and the arbitration and mediation committee.
Prior to her judicial appointment, Judge Schulte began her legal career as a Deputy District Attorney for the Orange County District Attorney’s Office. She was then in private practice in Orange County for 13 years as a business and tort trial attorney, including nine years as a partner at Martin Wilson Fingal & MacDowell, with an emphasis in construction, premises and products liability litigation, insurance coverage, and medical malpractice cases.
Judge Schulte is very proficient in French.
Judge of the Superior Court of California, County of Orange 1998-2017
Civil Court Assignments:
Judge of the Municipal Court of California, County of Orange 1997-1998
Partner and Vice-President, Martin Wilson Fingal & MacDowell 1988-1997
Associate, Martin & Wilson 1987-1988
Associate, Gardner & Martin 1984-1987
Deputy District Attorney, Orange County District Attorney’s Office 1978-1981
Admitted to practice before all California State Courts, all Federal District Courts (trial level) in California, and the United States Supreme Court
“Your experience in family law is definitely helpful.”
“Judge Schulte was a pleasure to work with, patient and certainly knowledgeable. Faced with more than the typical difficult parties, she figured out how to use effective approaches. Her insight into the Probate Code and Court was very useful.”
“THANK YOU!! You are so talented as a mediator and the Probate Panel is not the same without you! ”
“Thank you for bringing about this result. Wish we could clone you.”
“Your genuine kindness and caring nature makes your mediation style extremely unique and effective. Thank you for continuing to work hard for everyone after our day was up. We look forward to working with you again in the near future.”
“I’m surprised you’re not in mediation every day as much as I hear about you. Your name always comes up.”
“You are a ROCK STAR.”
“Judge Schulte was very effective.”
“Very effective. We had a difficult set of personalities, and Judge Schulte was able to push the parties forward to a very reasonable resolution. Excellent, will recommend to peers and colleagues.”
“5 Stars. Well done Judge Schulte.”
“We have worked with many neutrals over the years, and find Judge Schulte to be the most effective.”