Judicial Profile: Department 6
Honorable David B. Flinn
- Biographical Information
- Date of Birth:
- November 1, 1938
- Place of Birth:
- San Francisco, CA
- University of California, Berkeley, with a B.S. in Business Administration (Accounting) in 1960; Boalt Hall Law School, with his J.D., in 1963
- Pre-bench Legal Experience:
- Judge Flinn worked in the Legal Department of Bank of America from 1963-1968 and for Leland, Parachini, Steinberg, Flinn, Matzger & Melnick (previously known as Cerf, Robinson & Leland) from 1968-1996 (he was managing partner from 1980-1991). He has extensive experience in business and commercial litigation, banking, probate and wills, insurance, real estate, construction, agriculture and general business
- Political Affiliation:
- Judicial Experience
- Governor Pete Wilson appointed Judge Flinn to the Contra Costa Superior Court in 1997. His current term ends in 2016. He handles civil complex litigation, which is part of fast track. Complex litigation cases are designated pursuant to Rule of Court 1800 and the discretionary local rule of eight or more parties.
- Pre-bench Civic & Professional Activities
- U.C. Board of Regents, representing Alumni 1993-1995.
- Current Civic & Professional Activities
- Director, Avery Fuller Welch Children’s Foundation; Governing Committee, Continuing Education of the Bar (CEB); Civil Law Education Planning Committee. Since 2001 Judge Flinn has been a regular lecturer or panel member on various civil and probate law topics.
- Continuing Legal Education Faculty
- Presentations on case management and complex litigation through CEB, Practicing Law Institute (PLI) and CJER and bar associations, 2001-2009.
- Courtroom Policies
- Trials are scheduled for Fridays. Where a jury is intended the court will normally spend Friday working on housekeeping matters and getting a firm grasp upon the case, calling a jury panel for the following Monday.
- Telephone appearances are allowed but normally not for law and motion.
- Law and Motion matters are heard on Fridays. The judge employs the Socratic method for oral argument and is interested in the effects of rulings on the rest of the case and upon like cases.
Judge Flinn’s tentative rulings are available on the court’s web site.
- Judge Flinn expects thorough briefing with citations to principles relied upon. Abusive and unconscionable long filings of excessive summary judgment or adjudication materials will not be tolerated.
- Special needs regarding discovery are discussed at case management conferences. Discovery motions are handled by the court commissioner.
- In Limine Motions
- Judge Flinn perfers to use short form in limine motions for standard issues. At the issue conference these motions will be reviewed in a very general fashion and the parties asked for briefing on seriously contested matters, hearing the motions more formally on the first day of trial.
- Voir Dire
Only plaintiffs need to file proposed voir dire examinations or proposed statements of their cases for prospective jurors.
Judge Flinn conducts extensive voir dire and allows the attorneys to conduct follow up voir dire, usually limited to 15 minutes. Hardships are conducted on one day and non-hardship cases the next. Judge Flinn does not allow the attorneys to precondition the jury during voir dire.
- Jury Instructions
- Only plaintiffs need to submit jury instructions and only a list of CACI instructions is required. The parties are to meet and confer on the instructions between the issue conference and trial. The defendant can submit additional instructions. Disputed instructions are designated separately.
Judge Flinn wants only the witnesses reasonably probable to testify at trial to be submitted with a brief synopsis of the proposed testimony. Failure to list a witness, that a party in good faith later determines to call, will not bar calling that witness. However, the judge would like a complete list of all potential witnesses or those that may be mentioned for use during jury selection.
Expert witnesses are not included in percipient witness exclusion orders. However, they may not be present during the testimony of other expert witnesses.
- The judge encourages the parties to exchange all documents without discovery. Additionally, all exhibits are to be pre-marked with a detailed index, including columns, for the clerk to mark the date indicating when the exhibit was identified and entered. Impeachment exhibits need not be identified.
- Judge Flinn allows a relaxed decorum in the courtroom as long as there is respectful conduct between the parties and the attorneys.
- Court Reporters & Translators
- Civil Departments can no longer provide court reporting due to budge catastrophe; see Court website for the process required to bring in a private court reports. Court does not provide translators either.
- Computers in the Courtroom
- Judge Flinn allows laptop computers at the counsel table.
- Cameras in the Courtroom
- News media still and video photography will be considered with advance notice and compliance, with rules of court.
Cases are won by the attorney who thoroughly understands the pertinent facts and law applicable to the case. Those who focus on the “bull’s eye” and do not dwell on extraneous issues are the most successful.
Judge Flinn likes to keep his trial moving with witnesses prepared and ready to go.