Hon. Marshall Whitley (Ret.)


Hon. Marshall Whitley served as a California Superior Court Judge in Alameda County for over 20 years. For many years he was the Supervising Judge at Alameda, Oakland, and Berkeley courthouses, and for 10 years was Presiding Judge in departments handling Probate, direct calendar Civil, and long cause Probate trials. He has been the trial judge for a number of complex and high profile civil and criminal cases.

Judge Whitley retired from the bench in 2013 and began working with ADR Services, Inc. as a mediator, arbitrator, special master and discovery referee. He has extensive experience and expertise in the areas of trusts, estates, conservatorships, taxation, malpractice, contracts, real estate, and business disputes. His flexible approach, technical expertise, and patience have enabled him to achieve an exceptionally high success rate in more than one thousand mediations and court settlement conferences. His 20 years managing all types of civil and criminal trials have made him a very fair, efficient, and decisive arbitrator, court appointed special master, and private judge.

Judge Whitley has been a law professor, either adjunct or full time, since 1985 teaching lawyers and law students in the above subject areas. Since leaving the bench he has trained hundreds of lawyers on mediation and dispute resolution and currently teaches a course he designed entitled “Mediating Trust and Estate Disputes” for the LL.M. program at Golden Gate University School of Law.

Prior to his judicial appointment, Judge Whitley, for 19 years, was a DC legislative counsel, a US Justice Department trial attorney, and a San Francisco private practitioner handling estate planning, tax and business litigation matters.

Judicial Experience

  • Judge, Superior Court, County of Alameda, 1999 – 2013
  • Judge, Municipal Court, County of Alameda, 1993 – 1998


  • Presided over Long Cause Probate Trials, 2007-2013
  • Supervising Probate Judge, 2003-2007
  • Chair, Superior Court Probate Committee, 2003-2008


  • Presided in Civil Trial and Civil Direct Calendar departments, 2007-2013
  • Included case management, motions, settlement conferences, and trial of all types of civil cases including: asbestos; commercial; collection; contract; copyright; labor; employment; environmental; malpractice and other tort; real property; and trade secrets


  • Supervising Judge of George McDonald Courthouse, 2009-2010
  • Supervising Judge of Berkeley Courthouse, 2007-2008
  • Supervising Judge of Wiley Manuel Courthouse, 1999-2000


  • Judicial Council Probate and Mental Health Advisory Committee, 2010-2013 Chair, Subcommittees on Trusts and on Rules & Forms.
  • Judicial Education & Research Division of the Administrative Office of the Courts (CJER), 2005-2008 Chair, Committee on Probate and Mental Health.
  • California Judges Association Probate and Mental Health Committee, 2006-2008

Attorney Experience

Managing Partner and Co-Managing Partner, Law Offices of Marshall Whitley and Tierney Walden & Whitley (San Francisco), 1985-1993
Law practices focused on federal and state tax controversies, business transactions and tax planning, estate planning, ERISA, and commercial litigation

Tax Supervisor, Coopers & Lybrand (San Francisco), 1983-1985
Tax compliance for clients, coordinated with Washington, DC office regarding pending and proposed tax legislation, and provided internal counsel regarding IRS practice and procedure

Trial Attorney, US Department of Justice, Tax Division (Washington, D.C.), 1979-1982
Represented the US Government in complex tax litigation and related civil matters in US District and Bankruptcy Courts throughout the western region of the United States.

Special Tax Counsel and Legislative Counsel, Washington, D.C. Finance & Revenue Department and Council of the District of Columbia, 1974-1979
Directed implementation of recently enacted real property tax measures, drafted proposed income and estate tax legislation, and coordinated with Congressional staff of Ways & Means and Finance Committees regarding D.C. finances and revenues.

Academic Experience

Professor and Director of LL.M. Programs in Taxation and Estate Planning, 2013-Present; Adjunct Professor, 1985-2013; Golden Gate University School of Law
Directs the administration of two LL.M. programs including selecting curricula, identifying and employing adjunct professors and all aspects of student admissions, matriculation, graduation and career placement.

Courses taught: Wills, Trusts & Estates; Mediating Trust and Estate Disputes; Probate Procedure and Litigation; IRS Practice and Procedure; Federal Tax Litigation; Standards of Tax Practice; IRS Collection Procedures.

Memberships and Awards

2016    Recipient of “Joanne M. Garvey Lifetime Achievement Award”, California State Bar Taxation Section
2013    Certificate in Mediation & Conflict Resolution, University of California, Berkeley Extension
2013    Member, San Francisco Mediation Society
1995-2012    Outstanding CJER Faculty commendations, Supreme Court Chief Justices & AOC
1993    Recipient of “V. Judson Klein Outstanding Tax Attorney Award,” California State Bar Tax Section
1991    Recipient of “Outstanding Faculty Award,” Golden Gate University School of Law
1989-1993    Executive Committee Taxation Section of State Bar of California, Chair-Elect 1992-1993
1985-1992    President, Vice President and Treasurer, San Francisco Tax Litigation Club


1976    LL.M. (Taxation), Georgetown University Law School
1973    J.D., University of Connecticut School of Law (with awards)
1970    B.A., Bowie State University (Business and Accounting with honors)

Representative Cases