Hon. David Sotelo (Ret.) is a seasoned decision maker with over three decades of applied skills, knowledge and real-world legal experience as a Superior Court Judge, Court Commissioner, and Deputy District Attorney. A thoughtful and committed advocate of fairness and legal integrity, his expertise covers a very broad range of civil and criminal matters.

Judge Sotelo most recently served in the Stanley Mosk courthouse of the Los Angeles Superior Court, where he managed a large Unlimited Civil Independent Calendar (IC) court and presided over jury and bench trials, motions, discovery hearings (formal and informal), and settlement conferences. The expansive case inventory included personal injury, elder abuse, fraud, civil rights, medical, legal, and professional malpractice, employment, landlord-tenant, habitability, insurance bad faith, real property, sexual abuse (clergy, public official and private), intra-religious entity/non-profit corporations, intellectual property, and equity.

Judge Sotelo’s prior civil court experience includes serving as co-Judge of the Court’s Limited Jurisdiction Master Calendar Court, managing a calendar of over 60,000 cases. He then moved into one of the Court’s Unlimited Jurisdiction Personal Injury Pre-Trial Hub Courts where he was responsible for over 3,000 pending cases, conducting hundreds of formal and informal discovery conferences and mediating settlements.

As an attorney, Judge Sotelo practiced criminal law, first as a white-collar criminal defense attorney, and later as a Los Angeles County Deputy District Attorney where he prosecuted countless jury trials. After the Rodney King Beating and Simi Valley trial, he was recruited into the District Attorney’s Special Investigations Division where he investigated and prosecuted police abuse and public official misconduct cases.

Prior to attending law school, Judge Sotelo worked as a full-time waiter/food server in Sausalito and San Francisco. During this time, he was elected as the on-the-job Shop Steward by more than 300 fellow employees and union members of AFL-CIO, Hotel, Bartenders, and Culinary Workers Union, Local 2. Later, as an older student with a family of four, Judge Sotelo entered law school with the intention of specializing in labor law.

Judge Sotelo’s lifelong commitment to community service includes serving as a member of the Board of Directors for the Mexican American Bar Foundation, member and President of the East Los Angeles Rotary Club, member of the Board of Directors of Beverly Hospital, and a member of the UCLA Law School Board of Advisors. Additionally, he co-founded and instructed the SHADES (Stop Hate and Delinquency by Empowering Students) outreach program at the Los Angeles Museum of Tolerance and continues to contribute as a volunteer Teen Court Judge.

Judge Sotelo was presented with the Benjamin Aranda Judge of the Year award by the Mexican American Bar Association. Additionally, he has been honored with both the UCLA and UCLA School of Law Latino Alumni of the Year awards. In 2013, Judge Sotelo received the University of California, Santa Cruz, Social Sciences Alumni of the Year Award.

Born in East Los Angeles and raised in San Francisco’s Mission and Excelsior neighborhoods, Judge Sotelo speaks Spanish fluently.


  • Personal Injury
  • Civil Rights / Police Misconduct
  • Business / Breach of Contract
  • Professional Liability (Legal, Medical)
  • Product Liability / Consumer Protection
  • Employment / Wrongful Termination


Assigned Judge, Temporary Assigned Judges Program (TAJP) 2023
Assigned by the Chief Justice to hear Civil, Probate, and Criminal matters in all California counties.

Judge, Los Angeles Superior Court 2002-2023

  • Civil Assignments, Stanley Mosk Courthouse:
    General Jurisdiction Independent Calendar (IC) Court, 2015-2023
    General Jurisdiction Pre-Trial Personal Injury Hub Court, 2014
    Limited Civil Master Calendar Hub, 2013
  • Criminal Assignments:
    All-Purpose Felony Criminal Trial Calendar, Compton Courthouse, 2005-2012
    Misdemeanor Trial Calendar, Clara Shortridge Foltz Criminal Justice Center, 2004
    Supervising Judge and Site Judge, Metropolitan Courthouse, 2002-2003

Court Commissioner, Los Angeles Superior Court 2000-2002

Court Commissioner, East Los Angeles Municipal Court 1994-2000
Elected and Appointed by the Judges of the Court.
Presided over all East Los Angeles District preliminary hearings, early disposition program (EDP) and felony arraignments.
Misdemeanor criminal pretrial, motions, jury trial and post-conviction probation.
Limited civil, personal injury and unlawful detainer calendars. Jury and bench trials.
Weekend Probable Cause and Bail Deviation Hearings.
Drug Court Judge: Created and presided over Felony Drug Court Program.


Deputy District Attorney, County of Los Angeles 1988-1994
In addition to hundreds of felony preliminary hearings, motions, and misdemeanor matters, prosecuted well over 80 criminal jury trials, including 20 homicides.

Special Investigations Prosecutor: Post-Rodney King, investigated and prosecuted public official criminal conduct, including prosecution of 8 cases involving police misconduct in multiple county agencies for the use of excessive force.

Attorney, Law Offices of Steven David Miller 1986-1988
White collar Federal contracts fraud and criminal defense matters (General Dynamics and Toshiba).


  • Juris Doctor, University of California Los Angeles School of Law 1986
  • Bachelor of Arts in Politics, University of California, Santa Cruz, Merrill College 1983


  • UC Santa Cruz Distinguished Social Sciences Alumni Award 2013
  • Benjamin Aranda Award for Judicial Excellence, Mexican American Bar Association 2007
  • Alumnus of the Year, UCLA Latino Alumni Association 2005
  • Latino Alumnus of the Year, UCLA School of Law 2003


Los Angeles Superior Court, Teen/Peer Court Volunteer 2002-Present
Judge, Redondo Union High School, Redondo Beach, 2022-Present
Judge, Carson High School, Carson, 2009-2020
Judge, Manual Arts High School, Los Angeles, 2002-2008
Mexican American Bar Association (MABA) 1986-Present
SHADES Program (Stop Hate and Delinquency by Empowering Students) 1998-2021
Mexican American Bar Foundation (MABF), Board Member 1996-2016
UCLA School of Law, Board of Advisors 2005-2007
UCLA Chancellor’s Search Committee for Law School Dean 2003-2004
American Inns of Court, Judicial Member 2009-2012
Benjamin Aranda Chapter, 2011-2012
Judge William J. Rea Chapter, 2006-2008
Rotary Club, East Los Angeles (President, 1999) 1995-2002
Beverly Community Hospital, Board Member 1994-2002


Judge Sotelo’s interests include gardening, cooking, and golf.

Representative Cases


  • Trial judge in case of promoter alleging fraudulent inducement to contract by sibling using brother’s world champion boxer’s name and participation.
  • Consolidated cases involving claims of fraud, conspiracy and breach of contract among numerous domestic and foreign entities in business venture.
  • Case involving claims of breach of implied contract, extortion and other claims for role in what became booked as a boxing fight of the century.
  • Trial judge for breach of implied contract for declaratory relief alleging former employee’s shared ideas.
  • Jury trial judge against three former employees for breach of loyalty and confidentiality and wrongful misappropriation of information.
  • Trial judge in case claiming breach of contract involving childhood friends working in highly competitive international retail garment industry.
  • Trial judge involving restaurant operator against landlord raising issues of breach of contract and racial discrimination.
  • Trial judge involving failed international healthcare business alleging breach of contract, civil conspiracy and fraud.
  • Trial judge in dispute of right to sell cannabis between competing dispensaries in the context of evolving local regulations.
  • Case involving ownership dispute between two branches of religious denominations of ownership of graduate seminary.
  • Case involving corporate leadership and control of a major national religious denomination.

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Employment/Wrongful Termination:

  • Jury trial judge against three former employees for breach of loyalty and confidentiality and wrongful misappropriation of information.
  • Jury trial judge in wrongful termination for claimed whistleblowing against aerospace industry company.
  • Trial judge in wage & hour (PAGA) case against restaurant.
  • Trial judge involving claims wrongful termination and issues of independent contractor status under Dynamex.
  • Case involving wrongful termination and racial discrimination of medical doctor.
  • Case involving employee claims of racial harassment and retaliation (FEHA) and cross-claims of invasion of privacy.
  • Representative/class action case involving wage & hour (PAGA) claims against educational entity.
  • Case involving discrimination and wrongful termination based on disability against airline company.
  • Case in action by partner attorney against his law firm involving allegations of racial discrimination, breach of contract and issues competing and multistate arbitration issues.
  • Case involving airline stewards alleging sexual harassment by pilot and retaliation airline.

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Insurance & Bad Faith:

  • Case involving insurance bad faith and fraud concerning issues of long-term leak/seep exception to standard homeowner agreements.

Intellectual Property:

  • Trial judge in dispute over right to the control and use for charitable fundraising of the name, image and likeness (Intellectual Property) of deceased iconic Hollywood actress.
  • Trial judge in trade secrets and breach of contract case involving whether algorithm was publicly available.
  • Trial judge in patent-related case involving claimed anti-cancer compounds with prior and concurrent pending Korean, Australian and German litigations.


  • Case involving landlord tenant dispute that evolved into whether winning side was entitled to attorney fees under “disentitlement doctrine.”

Personal Injury:

  • Jury trial judge in civil sexual assault claim by masseur employee against fellow masseur employee of one of Los Angeles’ most popular fitness clubs.
  • Wrongful death claim against employer alleging claims under the “coming and going rule” for intoxicated employee’s action.
  • Trial judge for a case claiming personal injury and strict products liability for defective design of glass olive oil bottle that fell upon a stove and burst into flames.
  • Case against medical doctor for negligence, abandonment and battery arising out of varicose vein surgery.
  • Case involving wrongful death of outdoor painter who fell from a building the day after a rain storm.
  • Case involving a slip and fall accident with serious injuries while stepping outside of a restaurant onto a public space.
  • Case involving bicyclist against public and private entities allegedly injured after tire caught in defective concrete crack.
  • Case against public entities involving motorist killed when pedestrians threw retaining wall bricks from overpass onto freeway.
  • Case involving numerous county and city subcontractors after motorist was killed at intersection construction site.

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Police Misconduct:

  • Case involving city police officers alleged to have struck an arrestee then recorded in the report plaintiff injured by falling from a roof.
  • Case involving a county police officer who pointed a detainee’s confiscated vintage handgun at the detainee’s head and pulled the trigger while asking whether it was loaded.
  • Case involving a community college police officer emailing pornographic material to new officer who was forced to resign from her job.

Product Liability/Consumer Protection:

  • Trial judge in case against the producer and seller of olive oil and a retail store involving claims of personal injury and strict products liability for defective design of glass bottle that burst into flames causing major injury.
  • Jury trial judge in Lemon law case against BMW.
  • Jury trial judge in Lemon law case of leasee against Mercedes Benz.
  • Jury trial judge in Lemon law and fraud case against Toyota.
  • Jury trial judge in Lemon law as well as fraud/deceit based on concealment case against Kia Motors.
  • Case involving wrongful death of a child against medical personnel and compounding company for prescribing and providing medication.
  • Case involving wrongful death alleged defective helicopter that crashed in foreign jurisdiction.

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Professional Liability (Legal & Medical):

  • Trial judge of legal malpractice claim by client against high-profile criminal defense lawyers.
  • Jury Trial judge in wrongful death case for hospital discharge and failure to provide medical services.
  • Jury Trial judge for negligence and battery for claimed unnecessary procedure upon newborn child.
  • Case against medical doctor for negligence, abandonment and battery arising out of varicose vein surgery.
  • Case involving claims professional services by former attorney who withdrew from representing client when case ordered to arbitration and cross-claims for malpractice.
  • Case of entity legal malpractice claim against major law firm involving acquisition of foreign corporation.
  • Case involving failure to approve and provide medical procedure after obesity-related surgery until injury and emergency required procedure.
  • Case involving entity claim of legal negligence against three law firms.
  • Case involving purchase of coastal property alleging broker/agent breach of duty for failure to disclose habitat law existing violations and property restrictions.
  • Case involving legal malpractice and breach of fiduciary duty in settlement of real property cases.

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