Hon. Lisa A. Novak See Rating Details
Superior Court
San Mateo County
See Comments

Attorney Average Rating:   3.7 - 11 rating(s)
Non-Attorney Average Rating:   5.0 - 2 rating(s)
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Only items marked with (*) are averaged into the displayed overall rating.

General Rating Criteria

* 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=Chronically Late,10=Always on Time)
* General Ability to Handle Pre-Trial Matters (1=Not all Able, 10=Extremely Able)
* General Ability as a Trial Judge (1=Not all Able, 10=Extremely Able)
Flexibility In Scheduling (1=Completely Inflexible,10=Very Flexible)

Criminal Rating Criteria (if applicable)

* Evenhandedness in Criminal Litigation (1=Demonstrates Bias,10=Entirely Evenhanded)
General Inclination Regarding Bail (1=Pro-Defense,10=Pro-Government)
Involvement in Plea Discussions (1=Not at all Involved, 10=Very Involved)
General Inclination in Criminal Cases Pretrial Stage (1=Pro-prosecution,10=Pro-defense)
General Inclination in Criminal Cases Trial Stage (1=Pro-prosecution,10=Pro-defense)
General Inclination in Criminal Cases Sentencing Stage (1=Pro-prosecution,10=Pro-defense)

Civil Rating Criteria (if applicable)

* Evenhandedness in Civil Litigation (1=Not at all Evenhanded,10=Entirely Evenhanded)
Involvement in Settlement Discussions (1=Not at all Involved,10=Very Involved)
General Inclination (1=Pro-defendant, 10=Pro-plaintiff)

What others have said about Hon. Lisa A. Novak


Civil Litigation - Private

Comment #: CA5159
I agree with the other comments regarding this judge's lack of ability in being a fair judge. She has no sense of due process, does not seem the understand the law and or applies it erroneously. I have argued before quite a number of judges, she is so far the worst one. It is difficult to reason logically with her, either she does not listen or does not understand the issues presented. It is hard to find a judge more judicially indisposed.

Civil Litigation - Private

Comment #: CA4916
Her demeanor is consistent with most of the other comments. She has no sense of fairness and no concept of due process. She is ignorant of the law of unlawful detainer and anti-SLAPP. She does not belong on the bench, and should be "papered" (170.6) as often as possible.

Civil Litigation - Private

Comment #: CA4899
I have had the same experience as the others here: she is arbitrary and incompetent. San Mateo County has a wealth of outstanding trial judges. She is not one of them. She is one of the worst judges around.

Civil Litigation - Private

Comment #: CA4886
I have not had a lot of exposure to Judge Novak, but I had the opportunity to sit through an hour and a half of her civil calendar while I waited for my matter to be called. I was watching particularly to try and get a feel for the new law and motion judge in San Mateo. Honestly, anyone would have been an improvement over Judge Buchwald, but I was impressed with what I saw and happy to have her in law and motion where I make a lot of appearances. My impression of Judge Novak is that she is smart and fair. She is not overly harsh, but she runs a relatively tight ship. All of her rulings seemed to be backed up by the law and clear reasoning. I saw her chastise an attorney who had committed some pretty epic malpractice in failing to file an opposition to an MSJ (twice) and then trying to weasel out of it. She gave him a chance to argue and took a recess to review the law that he cited on the spot before affirming the tentative against him (I pulled the statutes myself while I was sitting there, and his arguments had no merit). She began the hearing two or three minutes late and kept it moving. I'd call her disposition almost cheerful, certainly pleasant, and she didn't let any annoyance she may have felt with the attorneys on one matter carry over to the next. She did not strike me as having a lot of patience, but she seemed willing to give everyone a fair opportunity to speak. It looked like she was coming down in favor of the plaintiff just as often as the defendant.


Comment #: CA4499
Rating:Not Rated
I totally agree with the previous comment: "As a potential juror...I was surprised when she let potential jurors off if they had a previously scheduled vacation and/or had already purchased tickets. In contrast, she was harsh on people with daycare issues and others where it was a financial hardship -- where the employer wouldn't pay for time spent on jury duty, and there would be lost wages." She was completely unsympathetic to my situation and very rude.


Comment #: CA3974
Rating:Not Rated
As a potential juror, I thought that Judge Novak explained the procedures well. But I was surprised when she let potential jurors off if they had a previously scheduled vacation and/or had already purchased tickets. In contrast, she was harsh on people with daycare issues and others where it was a financial hardship -- where the employer wouldn't pay for time spent on jury duty, and there would be lost wages. She said that, by law, we are expected to incur the cost and even dip into our savings as need be. I'm not sure what to think of this, but I can't help but notice that this practice favors the wealthy.


Comment #: CA3017
Miss Novak is a pleasant light hearted judge but lacks expertise and professionalism. Her demeanor is "sorority girl like" with an ego to match. She rules arbitrarily, but it does seem to be in accordance to her ego being fed even when it's being done so overtly. Her arrogance and/or laziness and/or biases effects her comprehension (Her rulings to the contrary of case laws). I understand Novak's background is not Labor Law and her ignorance showed.

Criminal Defense Lawyer

Comment #: CA2869
Obviously Novak has been writing some of her own reviews. One of the three worst judges in the County. Thinks she is smarter than everyone and has to have the last word on everything. Thinks she is "funny"...and she's not


Comment #: CA2502
I just served on a jury in Judge Novak's court and found her delightful, fair, and adherent to the law. Where appropriate she injected humor that made the process much less tedious and had me being very diligent during the course of the trial.

Criminal Defense Lawyer

Comment #: CA1842
Novak gets most if not all writ petitions in San Mateo County. I have not filed many--maybe 5 or so. However, this woman will sit on these petitions for over a year if you let her. She just fails to do anything until you make a big deal out of it.

In regard to evenhandedness. I had a motion for return of over $10,000 in property wrongfully taken and retained by police for over 5 years granted by another judge; that judge told the DA and I to work out the order. The DA just refused to return calls and emails; got to point where had to file another property return motion because DA would not comply with judges' order. Second round went to Novak. When I explained my concerns based on DA's prior conduct, she told me to "Stop Whinning." Yes your honor, thank you for granting my motion, for the second time. Should I give the DA a backrub too?


Comment #: CA1788
Horrible, miserable, moody, very unhappy person. She's an equal opportunity hater. She hates the prosecution as much as the defense, although she has a clear prosecutorial bias towards holding criminals accountable, which is not necessarily a bad thing. She's just plain miserable, condescending and a horrible person to deal with.

Criminal Defense Lawyer

Comment #: CA1747
Whoever wrote the prior comments is either related to Novak or had something happen to them that no one else has seen in the 5 years Novak has been a judge.

It's not that Novak doesn't suffer fools well, she doesn't suffer anyone well. Flippant, arrogant, lazy, "homer", uh...did I mention arrogant.

In front of his client and other people, Novak accused one of the best defense attorneys in the Bay Area that he had "abandoned" his client, when she had no idea of the facts invovled and was 100% wrong in her analysis.

Novak jacks up offers on trial days dependent upon her "mood". Unless you move in time-not-waived status, you won't get a trial out for over a year.

Worst judge I've seen in this County since started practicing in 1977.

Criminal Defense Lawyer

Comment #: CA251
Former prosecutor who demands her ex-colleagues to be diligent and on top of their cases - she also demands that from the defense. Not afraid to dismiss if she sees a violation of the law. I have done a trial in front of her where she granted an 1118 - based on solid facts and law but one that many others may have denied. She does the one thing that you always want in a judge - she follows the law!

Criminal Defense Lawyer

Comment #: CA116
I recently had a DV dismissal under Judge Lisa Novak, San Mateo County.

Without batting an eye she followed Crawford vs.. Washington and its progeny. She threw the case out because the DA showed lack of due diligence to serve the CW [People vs.Cogswell]

A few weeks earlier, I granted one continuance to the DA. At the morning of trial, Novak refused to give the DA another continuance because "defense is ready to go". DA dismissed.

I found Novak courteous and quite pleasant in chambers. A colleague later told me that Novak follows the law and "does not suffer fools lightly". That's cool.

In Sum: Republican Judge appointed by Arnold throws my DV case out based upon a decision by Scalia. If I lost, the guy would have been deported. I still feel quite good about that morning.