Hon. S. James Otero See Rating Details
District Judge See Comments
Average Rating:4.5 - 16 rating(s)
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*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

What others have said about Hon. S. James Otero


Criminal Defense Lawyer

Comment #: 22806
We tried 2 complex criminal jury trials with the same defendant & the same AUSA's within a matter of weeks. I have tried hundreds of jury trials over 40 years, & have seen "it all." This judge was absolutely spot on in every way. He is very smart, works extremely hard, was courteous throughout all the proceedings pre-trial, trial, & post verdict. He has a set of courtroom rules as do practically all federal judges nationwide, & all one has to do is follow them (not all that difficult) & it is a professional & good experience to be before him. His Courtroom Clerk, Victor Cruz, is a jewel. Anyone who complains about him doesn't get it. He is courtesy, helpful, always pleasant, & I have seen him only be helpful to those who are just dipping their toes into the federal system pond. Certainly one of the most experienced Clerks in the building, & is gracious in his willingness to assist. In all, I would have been pleased to have drawn this judge "at the wheel" each & every time.

Civil Litigation - Private

Comment #: 22319
Rating:Not Rated
I have no opinion about Judge Otero, but believe all of the negative comments about his deputy clerk, Victor Cruz, to be unfounded and bizarre. I've known Victor for over 30 years, since he was Judge Takasugi's clerk, and always have known and observed him to be knowledgable, diligent, honest, and exceptionally courteous. If some lawyers think that he didn't do their work for them, when they didn't know or understand the rules, then that's on them, and not on him. Shame on you for bad-mouthing Mr. Cruz.

Civil Litigation - Govt.

Comment #: 22126
This guy is an incorrigible bastard who rules with an iron fist. He refused to grant a stipulated two week extension on cross-motions for summary judgment citing the fact that, as stamped on the order denying, "deadlines are firm." He also told me at our first status conference not to file an MJOP because "[he] won't read it."

That said, after settling, he reduced the other attorneys' fee request by 80%...

He's fair but overly firm I would say


Comment #: 22048
I am law firm staff. This judge's clerk, Victor Cruz, is simply ridiculous. I have worked in law for over 27 years, and have NEVER encountered such a power-hungry monger as this guy. He thrives on telling you that you are not in compliance. He is snide, nasty, and possibly the rudest person I have ever had the displeasure to speak with. He thinks that his rules and regulations (although he says they are not his but Judge Otero's), are simply gospel. He has rules in different places, that do not match up, and so you have no idea what to do with anything. When you ask for specifics or guidance, he flatly refuses - and snippily says - "Good Luck." He has threatened to strike pleadings, force an in person appearance, and to dismiss a case due to his alleged "non-compliance" with some mystery rule, but won't tell you what it is, and then says, read the rules. I am shocked and horrified that a member of the U.S. Government, paid by the taxpayers, can act this way, and get away with it. This guy should be very sternly reminded he is PUBLIC SERVANT, and needs to learn some simple courtesy and respect for the human race. I cannot express enough how absolutely ridiculous this guy is.

Judge Ortero should be ashamed to have him representing him and his office. Congress should be ashamed to have appointed this judge, who hired this clerk. It is way past time that this court get in the 21st century and knock of the condescending ridiculous, holier than though attitude.

Criminal Defense Lawyer

Comment #: 13903
Dim, hostile, anger management problems, just an intolerable hack. Previously a government attorney and then a state court judge, who got promoted to the federal bench because he was a reliably conservative Latino.

Civil Litigation - Private

Comment #: 13868
A bully with an anger management problem. Punishes parties and counsel for sins real and imagined. Lashes out with arbitrary orders when he is mad, then (later) reverses them, resulting in confusion and disruption of parties' schedules. A Manuel Real in the making. An angry tyrant. Woe be to you if you are perceived as running afoul of his rules and orders, which are prolix and onerous. My opposing counsel got the worst of it, and I did not envy him.

Criminal Defense Lawyer

Comment #: 13664
This comment is geared at his staff: His clerk is unbelievably rigid and inflexible. The clerk lives to find any defect in your filings. Horrible, horrible, horrible.

This is my first time in front of Judge Otero, and my case hasn't gone far enough to see how he is as a judge. However, based on his clerk's extremely ridiculous behavior I am sure things will get worse.

Civil Litigation - Private

Comment #: 12331
This judge has a temperament ill-suited for the federal bench. He is abusive to counsel and eager to dismiss cases and causes of action with seemingly little reflection. He does in fact make up his mind early and will only hear the one side that supports his early determined position. Not a plaintiff-friendly judge.

Civil Litigation - Private

Comment #: 12096
His reputation as bullying and discourteous are deserved. I've seen him go out of his way to be nasty and, really, petty.

Civil Litigation - Private

Comment #: 9861
In what I have seen so far in my developing case of diversity, contract/fraud, the Honorable Otero has provided us with what the federal court is used for. The last defense of our consitutional rights and liberties. The Judge has looked at the complaint in the light most favorable to me the plaintiff after many motions to dismiss were described as moot he is the definition of a law-man who obviously know his constitutional law and the rights of all civil liberties and freedoms.

Civil Litigation - Private

Comment #: 6288
A hard working and talented jurist. He will go far.

Civil Litigation - Private

Comment #: 4386
Worst judge and staff I have ever been in front of. Abused the jury pool also.

Civil Litigation - Private

Comment #: 2050
Makes up his mind early, and then is impossible to sway. Does not allow argument if he disagrees. Not my favorite judge by a longshot.