Hon. Stephen V. Wilson See Rating Details
District Judge See Comments
C.D.Cal.  
Average Rating:3.2 - 45 rating(s)
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Ratings

*Temperament:   (1=Awful,10=Excellent)
*Scholarship:   (1=Awful,10=Excellent)
*Industriousness:   (1=Not at all industrious,10=Highly industrious)
*Ability to Handle Complex Litigation:    (1=Awful,10=Excellent)
*Punctuality:    (1=Chronic`y Late,10=Always on Time)
*Evenhandedness in Civil Litigation:    (1=Demonstrates Bias,10=Entirely Evenhanded)
*Evenhandedness in Criminal Litigation:   (1=Demonstrates Bias,10=Entirely Evenhanded)
Flexibility In Scheduling   (1=Completely Inflexible,10=Very Flexible)
General Inclination Regarding Bail (1=Pro-Defense,10=Pro-Government)
General Inclination in Criminal Cases, Pre-Trial:   (1=Pro-Defense,10=Pro-Government)
Involvement in Civil Settlement Discussions:   (1=Least Involved,10=Most Involved)
General Inclination in Criminal Cases, Trial:    (1=Pro-Defense,10=Pro-Government)
General Inclination in Criminal Cases, Sentencing:    (1=Most Lenient,10=Most Harsh)
Typical Discount Off Guidelines for Cooperators:    (1=10%,10=100%)
  Items marked with (*) are averaged into the displayed overall rating
Comments



What others have said about Hon. Stephen V. Wilson


Comments


Civil Litigation - Private

Comment #: 21775
Rating:1.0
Comments:
I want to give a fair, honest assessment of my dealings with Judge Wilson. A few months ago, I had a trial with Judge Wilson. I did not lose the case. However, Judge Wilson was beyond horrible as a judge. The worst judge that I have ever seen - - by far. I have been a litigator for over 20 years, so this is saying a lot. However, this review is not written merely to trash Judge Wilson, but, rather, to give you some actual guidance on how to deal with the man.

When you first encounter Judge Wilson, he will strike you as an incredibly fair man. In pre-trial matters, Judge Wilson was extremely fair. He really listened to both sides and ruled on matters in a fair way. I had read so many negative reviews about him on the Robing Room before trial, that I was quite shocked to find him to be even-keeled and fair. He was very fair in ruling for me on a motion. I felt extremely comfortable heading into trial. I honestly felt that most of the people who had complained about him on the Robing Room were either just sore losers, or simply had a different personality from the judge.

Motions in Limine. I filed about 40 in limines. Opposing counsel kept declaring that Judge Wilson was going to be angry about the number of in limines. Not at all. Judge Wilson never complained about the number of in limines. Moreover, he granted two-thirds of my in limines. I figured that Judge Wilson was going to be fabulous at trial.

Voir Dire. Judge Wilson does not let lawyers ask questions during voir dire. Worse yet, he only asks jurors extremely generic questions (“Where do you work? Have you sat on a jury? Do you have any hobbies?”). Voir dire lasts about 45 minutes. It’s good if you hate voir dire, but bad because you literally know nothing about your jurors.

Trial. The honeymoon with Judge Wilson abruptly ends when trial starts. It’s like he becomes another person when trial starts. Shortly after our trial got under way, it became readily apparent that Judge Wilson was adamantly opposed to my client. He was SUPER aggressive with my witnesses, criticizing them in open court on multiple occasions, even yelling at them to “ANSWER THE QUESTION!” His conduct was so shocking that I didn’t know what to make of it. I’m as type-A as they come, so I don’t take to being shocked easily. Judge Wilson’s conduct was that shocking.

During trial he was INCREDIBLY rude to me. I grew up blue collar in a semi-ghetto neighborhood, so I’m not the kind of guy who gets his little feelings hurt. So, when I say that someone was rude, I mean beyond-the-pale rude. He was absolutely dismissive of multiple issues I raised even though the issues were highly relevant. I actually felt sad for the guy, as you could see he had a ton of anger built up in him. He openly displayed anger in court if you made the slightest misstep. To be frank, I felt like I was a lawyer in a courtroom in the Soviet Union. It was THAT bad. After the trial, one of the jurors commented that the judge treated the lawyers like they were children.

The worst part was that Judge Wilson let every conceivable piece of evidence in for the Defendants, evidence that had no business being let in. I figured that this could not happen, since two-thirds of my in limines had been granted. Wrong. Worse, this trashy evidence was difficult to deal with during the trial. Conversely, when I had extremely relevant evidence to introduce, he refused to let it in. I would never say that a judge consciously tries to make one side win, but, subconsciously, he was leaning as hard as one could for the defense. Every other poster on the Robing Room who complained about Judge Wilson being results-oriented was dead-on the money.

You need a plan if Judge Wilson is your judge. It does you no good if you just end up being another person that writes a critical review of Judge Wilson. Here are my tips for Judge Wilson:

1. Dismiss your case and file in State court. Make sure to remove any federal claims you have, so the that the case isn’t simply removed back to federal court (This idea was given to me by another lawyer who practices in federal court - - a great idea).

2. If you don’t want to dismiss, then try to get opposing counsel to stipulate to using a magistrate judge for trial.

3. If you are stuck with Judge Wilson, then you have to be ready with your law. Judge Wilson hated my guts during trial because I knew my law cold. If he had something to say, I was always ready with a counter argument. I was always civil and professional, even though he (quite literally) screamed at me a few times. When you get assaulted by Judge Wilson (which you will), don’t get caught up in the soap opera of wondering why he is so unjust and why he’s such a jerk. He’s been that way for 30 years. Your job is to get past that and to focus like a laser beam on your law and evidence. Don’t ever shy away from making an argument because you’re afraid that he’ll go ballistic. I would honestly practice ahead of time getting abused. Have a colleague act as the judge, and have him yell at you while you are making arguments. It is a sadistic form of batting practice, but it will actually help. You actually need to be ready to answer questions from someone who screams at you. I’M NOT KIDDING ABOUT THIS POINT. His lousy attitude is the one thing that will derail a person. You HAVE to be ready to deal with this.

4. One way to butter up Judge Wilson is to substantially shorten your case. He HATES long trials. The first time you see Judge Wilson, tell him that you think that this entire trial can be done in the half the time that you had originally planned. My trial should have last a week or more. With Judge Wilson, the entire trial lasted two days (which included voir dire). To be honest, it was better that the trial went quicker. As such, from the word go, preach to Judge Wilson that it is your goal to err on the side of brevity and to get this trial done in short order. That is one of the few things that makes him happy. Don’t get me wrong, he’ll still be a jerk to you, but at least you’ll get some brownie points.

5. My mistake at trial was that there were several issues that I shied away from addressing because Judge Wilson had been so out–of-control and screaming so much. As much as I don’t like to admit it, it was somewhat intimidating. Next time, I will not shrink back from anything. The same goes for you. Address every single hard issue that needs addressing even if you know that Judge Wilson will throw a conniption fit. After the trial, the jurors complimented me on how I behaved in the face of Judge Wilson’s lunacy. Stick to your guns and realize that you are fighting for your client, not to become Judge Wilson’s new best friend. Women, don’t take this wrong, but, I feel sorry for women attorneys who have to appear in front of this man.

This man has been on the bench for over 30 years. There’s no use complaining about him to anybody because nothing will be done. You just have to take him as he is.

I am not a bitter person and it’s not my desire to take cheap shots at Judge Wilson. Rather, I just want you to know what you are getting into. Be strong, be brave, and get ready for the battle of your life.

Court Staff

Comment #: 21419
Rating:2.0
Comments:
This judge seriously lacks integrity.

Criminal Defense Lawyer

Comment #: 21418
Rating:Not Rated
Comments:
This judge is a stooge for the government. He simply can never forget that he was an assistant U.S. Attorney, even though he was a registered Democrat before he changed his voter registration to Republican in order to get his judicial appointment.

Other

Comment #: 21397
Rating:Not Rated
Comments:
The comments herein describe Judge Stephen V. Wilson accurately. I think that Judge Wilson's difficulty stems from his East Coast legal training, which is inadequate to rule on California cases. He couldn't even handle a TV court show. His incompetence is really disgusting!

Civil Litigation - Private

Comment #: 21090
Rating:8.3
Comments:
Excellent, equitable, smart, efficient.

Civil Litigation - Private

Comment #: 20954
Rating:2.3
Comments:
Picks a side and then is completely results-oriented toward that side. Is spiteful.

Litigant

Comment #: 20657
Rating:Not Rated
Comments:
A suggestion for people who are pro se and have bad experiences in dealing with His Honor. Do a Google Scholar search of his cases that have been appealed. I found a silver bullet, and/or "smoking gun" in 2 cases he'd been involved in. One was where he sat on a Circuit panel, and the other was a case he had remanded. Both cases were sympatico with what I needed to put a halt to proceedings to get a judgment after summary and pending appeal. The Rule Of Law does create justice.

Civil Litigation - Private

Comment #: 19479
Rating:3.2
Comments:
Not interested in anything anyone has to say. Should just submit everything on the papers without hearing.

Other

Comment #: 19417
Rating:Not Rated
Comments:
I do not understand why so many lawyers are allowing this man to stay on the bench. Move to have the ba@#$%d impeached!

Litigant

Comment #: 19081
Rating:2.0
Comments:
His Honor pays no attention to cited appellate law or Supreme Court decisions if it doesn't fit his case framework. A year in litigation I had only 5 minutes of argument in all the motions answered by me. He disavowed deposition testimony and would not allow discovery of the plaintiff--without protection ordered.

Civil Litigation - Private

Comment #: 18675
Rating:1.7
Comments:
Result oriented, rude, unfair, mean spirited, federal-judgitiss, cantankorous, unreasonable

Civil Litigation - Private

Comment #: 18507
Rating:1.0
Comments:
The person who wrote below that Steve Wilson was "one of the worst of the worst" was wrong. Wilson is by far the worst federal judge period.

Civil Litigation - Private

Comment #: 18404
Rating:4.3
Comments:
First appeared before him about 12 years ago. Based on the comments below, which are mostly true, nothing has changed.

Civil Litigation - Private

Comment #: 18256
Rating:3.2
Comments:
Biased towards business, anti-civil rights, goes out of his way to destroy plaintiffs before the case even begins.

Civil Litigation - Private

Comment #: 17829
Rating:Not Rated
Comments:
Judge Wilson is completely results-oriented and pro-government. He decides what he wants the outcome of a case to be and then makes all his decisions to that end. On May 14, 2012, he again was reversed by the Ninth Circuit, this time in U.S.A. v. Ito, No. 10-56409, just five days after oral argument, for dismissing a forfeiture complaint without prejudice, so that the govt. wouldn't be liable for fees (as would have been the case had the dismissal been with prejudice). At oral argument, Ninth Circuit Judge John T. Noonan asked "Why would Judge Wilson do this?"
The answer is to benefit the govt. and to screw the forfeiture claimants' lawyer out of fees. Typical Judge Wilson.

Other

Comment #: 13578
Rating:Not Rated
Comments:
Judge Wilson refused to process a writ of habeas corpus filed on behalf of severely disabled man, saying that no one but a barred attorney in California could file on the man's behalf. Habeas corpus does not permit attorneys to file on behalf of others in the capacity of attorneys, they can only do so as concerned persons. Wilson also first discussed the case with state officials, even said so in his "order" rejecting the petition, an admitted violation of the judicial code of conduct and now the man has been moved to a location where he is more likely to come down with pnuemonia and die, he has Marie Shark Toothe syndrome and he is a victim of the Ramparts scandal andGil Garcetti.

Criminal Defense Lawyer

Comment #: 13518
Rating:Not Rated
Comments:
Results oriented, sides with government.

Civil Litigation - Private

Comment #: 13428
Rating:Not Rated
Comments:
A very crazy little man, a la Roy Cohn. Takes sides and results-oriented. Among he worst. Not a well-balanced adult. Has been known to run into the hallways where he lives in his pajamas, screaming, when he is annoyed that neighbors' dogs bark. Just an all-around nut case.

Criminal Defense Lawyer

Comment #: 12781
Rating:1.0
Comments:
One of the "worst of the worst." Ill tempered, lazy, rude and apparently suffering froma sexual identity crisis for mamny years.

Civil Litigation - Private

Comment #: 12694
Rating:7.2
Comments:
Appeared before him in a civil case law and motion matter involving renewal of a judgment. He had read the briefs,listened patiently to argument from both counsel, understood the nuances of the matter, reached the correct result under the law, and his law clerks wrote a detailed and clear six page order/opinion explaining the grounds for the result. What's not to like? That said, I had another case with him @20 years ago and experienced his "rocket docket," for which I did not care.

Civil Litigation - Private

Comment #: 12053
Rating:1.6
Comments:
Abusive, result-oriented tyrant. Makes up his mind as to who will win case and reaches results accordingly with no regard for facts of the case or applicable law.

Civil Litigation - Private

Comment #: 11900
Rating:3.2
Comments:
One of the worst judges in the Central District. VERY slow to issue rulings, and generally ignores unethical conduct by opposing counsel. Having a case assigned to Judge Wilson is basically like having no judge on the case at all. Sad.

And I concur 100% with the other comments about Judge Wilson's "rocket docket" -- even in complex cases he will set a trial 60-90 days after the answer is filed, leaving basically ZERO time for preparation. If you appear before Judge Wilson looking for due process, look elsewhere...

Civil Litigation - Private

Comment #: 9836
Rating:2.0
Comments:
His rocket docket (trial set less than 2 months after answer filed) prevented any discovery at all. Stubbornly denied a joint stipulation/request by all parties for time for discovery. On remand after reversal rushed counsel to motions for summary judgment, then took 6 months to rule. Impatient and abusive to both sides. One of the worst judges I've appeared before in my 30-year career.

Other

Comment #: 9679
Rating:1.0
Comments:
Overturned conviction of twice convicted serail rapist and murderer Rodney James Alcala.

Civil Litigation - Private

Comment #: 8777
Rating:3.3
Comments:
He states that the only rule of FRCP that he pays attention to is Rule 1, which requires that the rules be construed to secure a just, speedy and inexpensive determination of every action and proceeding. His failure to apply the remaining rules leaves litigators in a quandary as to how to proceed, which is counterproductive to the intent of Rule 1. He issues orders from the bench, which are sometimes not consistent with the written order, which also leaves litigants in a quandary and increases the expense of litigation. If he took the trouble to apply all the rules and manages his cases better, he would achieve the goal of a just, speedy and inexpensive determination of the action.

Civil Litigation - Private

Comment #: 6443
Rating:1.3
Comments:
Ill-tempered, lazy, decides who he wants to win and then acts like a coach and corrupt referee to accomplish his desired result. Perhaps the worst sitting federal judge at the district court level.

Civil Litigation - Private

Comment #: 6299
Rating:7.6
Comments:
I handled a civil rights trial before Judge Wilson. He was tough and moved the case very quickly, with sometimes visible impatience in front of the jury over the pace of the questioning. He was equally tough on both sides, and thus I would say he was fair. He issued a very detailed and scholarly pretrial ruling on a key issue in the case.

Prosecutor

Comment #: 6113
Rating:7.4
Comments:
Can be an ill-prepared lawyer's nightmare - leans toward government - but overall fair. He needs to be persuaded logically.

Civil Litigation - Private

Comment #: 5984
Rating:1.9
Comments:
Judge Wilson continues to be completely biased against and very unfair toward plaintiffs and their counsel in civil rights cases -- particularly employment discrimination, harrassment, retaliation and wage-and-hour cases. He allows inadequate time for discovery.

Criminal Defense Lawyer

Comment #: 5958
Rating:1.4
Comments:
This judge is what Roy Cohn would have been like as a judge. Brutal, arrogant, abusive, results-oriented and highly political.

Criminal Defense Lawyer

Comment #: 5628
Rating:Not Rated
Comments:
This pro-government judicial tyrant makes up his mind how he wishes to decide and then spends all his time looking for authorities to back up his pre-conceived result. He is one of Randy Newman's truly "Short People."

Litigant

Comment #: 5597
Rating:1.0
Comments:
Very full of himself. Condescending to both sides. His intelligence is used only to stroke his ego. He's a prime example of why we need judicial term limits and judicial reform in general.

Criminal Defense Lawyer

Comment #: 5211
Rating:4.2
Comments:
Condescending to both the defense and government attorneys claiming he had been boxed in by what he considered to be a bad plea deal. He refused to follow the government recommendation on a 5K and substantially increased the sentence. His demeanor during sentencing was impatient and dismissive.

Civil Litigation - Private

Comment #: 5007
Rating:Not Rated
Comments:
I've practiced before Judge Wilson for twenty-five years, and have tried to jury verdict at least four civil rights trials before him (all of which I lost). For many years, until his marriage around 2001, he was brusque and impatient. As he got older, and after his marriage, his attitude and demeanor changed enormously: he actually said in court one day, to another lawyer: "I've learned that I have to be patient" -- and he has done that. This extremely intelligent and diligent workaholic has too much intellect and energy for his job, and gets frustrated. But he has gotten that under control and has become a real mensch. He no longer displays past traits described in other comments about him. He is the rare person who was able to change.

Criminal Defense Lawyer

Comment #: 4674
Rating:2.0
Comments:
This judge is very intelligent but rarely shows it. He loves jazz and from what I understand, is fairly accomplished as a musician.

I agree with the comments below, particularly from criminal defense counsel, having had several cases before him. In one case, we had solid grounds for a downward departure for probation or home confinement, which he rejected; but he found a way to soften the sentence. Of course, by doing so, he knew that any appeal would be a waste of time. Moreover, who wants to appear before him again on re-sentencing?

Criminal Defense Lawyer

Comment #: 4607
Rating:1.0
Comments:
Petty and nasty. Has a reputation for being a misogynist and a bigot. Tries to intimidate and demean lawyers. Intelligent. However, only uses it to support his outcome-driven opinions and to clean the record to frustrate appeals.

Other

Comment #: 4080
Rating:1.0
Comments:
The Worst!

Civil Litigation - Private

Comment #: 4068
Rating:6.5
Comments:
Does not like oral argument or lawyers who are not prepared. Not the most pleasant demeanor in court, but he is intelligent and will move cases along.

Civil Litigation - Govt.

Comment #: 4043
Rating:1.0
Comments:
Perhaps the evil equivlant of Manny Real. He plays piano on government time and has law clerks and externs exercise the judicial power of an Article III Judge, which in my opinion is a high crime and an impeachable offense. Abusive, ill informed, a showman for his law clerks and a hot head.

Civil Litigation - Private

Comment #: 2792
Rating:3.3
Comments:
Biased toward public entity defendant. Awarded 0 for pain and suffering in a PI court trial with clear liability and injuries -- until presented with case law that failure to make award is reversible error where there is a compensable injury. So he awarded pltf $500.

Criminal Defense Lawyer

Comment #: 2421
Rating:2.0
Comments:
Very unfair toward plaintiff's in civil rights cases. Inadequate time for discovery. His is called the "rocket docket".