Two stories about judges who wouldn't follow the law

Timothy Kowal, Esq.
August 19, 2022

Every attorney who loses a case feels the sting of defeat. But the losses you never forget are the ones you really deserved to win.

I share two experiences where trial judges were not following the law. The first judge indicated he was going to rule based on “cultural considerations” favoring a family patriarch. But to that judge’s credit, eventually he abandoned that view.

The second judge thumbed his nose at Supreme Court precedent. The Conservatorship of McQueen case, concerning judgment-enforcement, holds that the plaintiff’s right to claim enforcement fees is terminated the moment a judgment is paid in full. Despite a dramatic showing of full payment of a judgment (using an armored car and guard), the judge declined to follow binding precedent.

Not all judges have the same fidelity to law and precedent. That is why the right to appeal is so important.

Watch the clip here.

This is a clip from episode 30 of the California Appellate Law Podcast. The full episode is available here.

Tim Kowal helps trial attorneys and clients win their cases and avoid error on appeal. He co-hosts the Cal. Appellate Law Podcast at, and publishes a newsletter of appellate tips for trial attorneys at His appellate practice covers all of California's appellate districts and throughout the Ninth Circuit, with appellate attorneys in offices in Orange County and Monterey County. Contact Tim at or (714) 641-1232.