Hon. Nandor J. Vadas (Ret.)


Hon. Nandor J. Vadas is a retired federal Magistrate Judge of the United States District Court for the Northern District of California. During his tenure, Judge Vadas presided over many civil actions, and criminal pretrial matters in the counties of Del Norte, Lake, Humboldt, and Mendocino, while also presiding over cases in San Francisco and on the Hopland Indian Reservation in Mendocino County. With thirteen years of experience on the bench, Judge Vadas has handled a wide variety of cases and settlement conferences involving matters of civil rights, employment issues, real estate, insurance issues, personal injury, the Americans with Disabilities Act, commercial litigation, and the Endangered Species Act. Judge Vadas also founded an early settlement program for civil rights cases brought by unrepresented prisoners, which has been applied in all state prisons in the Northern District of California and some prisons in the Eastern District of California as well.

Judge Vadas’ judicial career was preceded by extensive trial experience as a Deputy District Attorney for a combined eleven years with the City and County of San Francisco and Humboldt County, and as a federal prosecutor for nine years in the United States Attorneys’ Office. Judge Vadas also worked in private practice, where he primarily handled family law and dependency matters.


  • Civil Rights
  • Real Estate & Real Property
  • Personal Injury
  • Americans with Disabilities Act
  • Employment
  • Insurance Coverage & Bad Faith
  • Commercial Litigation
  • Environmental


UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT                   2004-2017

  • Magistrate Judge, United States District Court for the Northern District of California.
    Retired November 1, 2017.

PRIVATE PRACTICE      2004-2006

  • Private practice in Humboldt County with an emphasis on Family Law and Dependency


  • Lecturer, Redwood Police Academy, College of the Redwoods
    Taught criminal justice courses.


  • Deputy District Attorney
    Prosecuted a wide range of felony and misdemeanor cases in state court. These cases involved gangs, cultivation of marijuana, and domestic violence.


  • Associate Managing Director
    Managed fraud and personnel investigations for the California State Automobile Association as an attorney and investigator.


  • Assistant United States Attorney

Criminal Division (1993-1998)
Worked on a variety of criminal matters, including real estate and bank fraud. Acted as attorney coordinator for the Trigger lock program, Anti-terrorism Task Force, and Operation Gangland. Operation Gangland targeted violent gang members who were undocumented immigrants for prosecution and deportation.

Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force (1989-1992)
Investigated and prosecuted several heroin and cocaine distribution organizations based in Africa and South and Central America.


  • Assistant District Attorney

Prosecuted and tried felony and misdemeanor cases in state court. These cases included driving under the influence, burglary, robbery, and the sales of heroin, PCP, and crack cocaine.


  • Associate

Worked on a variety of family law, probate, and real estate matters.

SILVERADO INVESTMENTS, INC.                    1979-1981

  • Escrow Manager

Managed multi-unit condominium and time-share conversion projects in Southern California.


  • Member of the Ninth Circuit Pro Se Committee        2014-2017
  • Board of Directors, Project Leaping Stone
    Organization is involved in the development and construction of schools in West Africa.  2004-2008
  • Volunteer with Project Vietnam March 2007
  • Member of the Advisory Group of United States Magistrate Judges to the Administrative Office of the United States Courts 2006-2009
  • Member of the San Francisco Juvenile Justice Commission 1995-1998
  • Member of the Board of Directors for the AIDS Legal Referral Panel           1993-1995


  • J.D., University of California, Hastings College of the Law    1978
  • B.A. in German Literature, University of California, Santa Cruz    1974


  • Town Hall Forum, Police Brutality & Systemic Racial Injustice (The Sedona Conference)    2020
  • Pursuing the Judge’s Guidance Outside of Conference (The Lorman Group)    2019

Representative Cases


  • County and defendant disagreed over the nature of county's code enforcement activities on defendant's property.
  • Handled a case in which the defendants, police officers, were patrolling at night in a rural area of Humboldt County when they came across the plaintiff, a night watchman guarding heavy equipment. They alleged that they saw the plaintiff brandish a weapon and fired 22 rounds into his vehicle, injuring the plaintiff.
  • Plaintiff, who advertised professional and medical services regarding abortions, challenged defendants' regulations limiting their right to do so online as a violation of Plaintiff's First Amendment rights under the U.S. Constitution.
  • Plaintiffs took exception to City's ordinance banning nudity in public places, claiming the ordinance was in violation of their First Amendment rights under the U.S. Constitution.
  • Litigation arose out of one of the "occupy Protests" that spread across the U.S. Plaintiffs failed to disperse when ordered to do so, and claimed defendants used excessive force in breaking up their encampment.
  • This was an action involving allegations of excessive force against a detainee who was stopped while riding a bicycle intoxicated, and going the wrong way on a busy freeway. Defendants claimed it took six officers to place Plaintiff in nylon leg restraints.
  • Plaintiff voluntarily admitted himself as a patient to a county mental health facility. Plaintiff alleged that the county wrongfully reported to the State of California that Plaintiff was hospitalized under Welfare and Institutions Code Section 5250 rather than 5150, thereby imposing a lifetime ban on possessing a firearm.
  • Plaintiff claims he had just left the gym and was sitting in his car resting when the police forced him out of his car causing him to break a tooth. Defendants claim Plaintiff was sleeping in his car in violation of the city's anti-camping ordinance.
  • Plaintiffs were arrested by BART police for being intoxicated in a BART station while waiting for a train. The female Plaintiff was wrestled to the ground by BART police officers when she refused their commands to sit down.
  • Intertribal dispute arising out of the banishment, disenfranchisement, and disenrollment of tribal members by the tribal counsel.
  • Decedent was 26 years old, and mentally challenged. He was punched, pepper sprayed, tased multiple times, struck with a metal baton multiple times, and eventually shot and killed by law enforcement officers who claimed noncompliance with their orders.
  • Plaintiff was a "volunteer photographer" for a small-town newspaper. He was arrested by the CHP while on a Caltrans highway construction site. Defendants claimed Plaintiff ignored their repeated requests to stay away because of the dangerous construction activity going on at the site. Plaintiff claimed defendants' actions amounted to harassment and intimidation.

view all


  • Settled a case involving a real estate broker that miscommunicated with her non-English speaking client who failed to purchase fire insurance. Property burned to the ground two weeks after escrow closed.
  • Breach of contract diversity action concerning a licensing agreement for the manufacturing of women's shoes in Italy.
  • Plaintiff accused defendants of selling counterfeit and "infringing" goods from their Chinatown store.
  • Plaintiff claimed that Defendants failed to pay a "success fee" upon Plaintiff finding a qualified buyer for Defendant's business.
  • Plaintiff claimed she was fraudulently induced into purchasing "art at bargain prices" from the defendant who was an international dealer in art. Defendant's position was that these were "arms length" transactions, and plaintiff was an art savvy business woman who knew the risks of this type of market.
  • Plaintiff, an internationally renowned collector of Chinese art, claimed that Defendants used her name and reputation to sell Chinese calligraphy as an original when Defendants knew it was a copy.

view all


  • A bank manager sought damages for failure to pay for overtime, meal, and rest breaks. Defendant bank claimed that Plaintiff was exempt under California labor law.
  • Plaintiff alleged that the Defendant retaliated against her for making complaints against her supervisor for unlawful workplace practices. Defendant claimed she was not fit for promotion.
  • Plaintiff alleged that the Defendant retaliated against her for making complaints against her supervisor for unlawful workplace practices. Defendant claimed she was not fit for promotion.
  • A psychiatric technical assistant at a California state prison claimed that she was subjected to repeated incidents of indecent exposure by inmates which caused a hostile work environment, and a mental breakdown.
  • Plaintiff claimed defendant owed her for overtime, missed lunch breaks, waiting time penalties, and interest on unpaid wages. Defendants claim plaintiff was owed none of these, and was terminated for time card fraud.
  • Plaintiff filed an action alleging disability discrimination, unlawful retaliation, gender discrimination, and sexual harassment, and retaliation for being terminated after complaining that her supervisor failed to use proper safety standards in handling methylene-chloride.
  • Plaintiffs were female employees of a pharmacy. They claimed that the defendant, a female supervisor, made unwelcomed sexual advances towards them, including "cupping their breasts," and slapping their rear-ends.

view all


  • Monitored implementation of the revised California Desert Conservation Plan for the Mojave Desert Tortoise.


  • Petitioner filed an application in Israel under the Hague Convention claiming that the children, who were now residing with Respondent in Marin County, were residents of Israel, and should be returned to Petitioner. Respondent, and the three minor children, all objected to being removed from Marin County, and returned to Israel. Eventually an agreement was reached between the parties for visitation and child support until the minor children reached the age of 18.


  • A boutique law firm specializing in referring antitrust cases to other law firms claimed defendants refused to pay a referral fee.


  • Plaintiff claimed breach of contract and negligence arising out of Defendant's failure to pay on a $500,000 life insurance policy issued to Plaintiff's husband.
  • Employee-wife was entitled to participate in company's group life insurance program. Husband was designated as 100% beneficiary of the policy. While she was dying of cancer, a change of beneficiary form was executed under suspicious circumstances. Insurance company made an attempt to determine the validity of the change, but was unable to do so.
  • Plaintiff claimed he should have received the proceeds of an insurance policy after the owner of the policy changed the beneficiary under suspicious circumstances.


  • Dispute involving the licensing of copyright protected photographs used in college textbooks.
  • Plaintiff alleged that Defendant's smart phone technology infringed on several claims of Plaintiff's patents. Specifically, patents pertained to technology that divided the frequency bandwidth of wireless devises into smaller units allowing subcarriers to be closely spaced without causing interference.


  • Plaintiff sued for conspiracy, defamation of character, and invasion of privacy claiming Defendant had posted a satirical website that falsely attacked Plaintiff's character.
  • Plaintiff received VA medical care from a VA medical center. Defendant hospital claimed that Plaintiff became disruptive, and had to be forcibly removed. Plaintiff claimed he was physically injured while being removed.
  • While Plaintiff was parked on a street in Oakland, California his vehicle was struck by a tow truck owned by the USPS. Plaintiff saw the vehicle coming at him in an erratic manner, and tried to jump over the front seats to avoid being struck, sustaining injury to his shoulder requiring surgery.
  • Plaintiff was a patient at Defendants' skilled nursing facility when the overhead trapeze malfunctioned causing Plaintiff to reinjure himself.


  • County and defendant disagreed over the nature of county's code enforcement activities on defendant's property.
  • Plaintiff, a veteran with a 100% disability rating from the VA, claimed defendant property owner lured him into a lease knowing that the building was to be remodeled, causing Plaintiff to suffer from noise pollution.
  • Plaintiff claimed that Defendants failed to adequately sign their self storage units for sight impaired users of the facility.
  • Plaintiffs claimed they were wrongfully foreclosed on by Defendant loan servicing agency. Plaintiffs claimed that the remaining equity in the property after costs were deducted was never paid to them.