Hon. David R. Chaffee See Rating Details
Superior Court
Orange County
See Comments

Attorney Average Rating:   5.3 - 16 rating(s)
Non-Attorney Average Rating:   1.0 - 1 rating(s)
Please send me alerts on this judge
E-mail Address:

Add your own rating

E-Mail Address (will not be displayed)
Confirm E-mail Address      

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. David R. Chaffee


Civil Litigation - Private

Comment #: CA10107
He is remarkably ignorant of substantive law. His memory is poor. He tends to fawn upon and favor those he believes to be celebrities or influential people. He affects a folksy demeanor -- just sitting on a cracker barrel and dispensing wisdom. He is irritated by the submission of briefs and does not seem to read them.
His rulings are often capricious.

Civil Litigation - Private

Comment #: CA9619
I have tried numerous cases before Judge Chaffee. I have found that he is fair, and he follows the law. He is also a wise Judge -- he really tries to "do justice" with his rulings within the bounds of black letter law and precedent. But the thing that I like best about Judge Chaffee is that he is not afraid to make tough calls and issue definitive rulings -- both during trial and in law and motion. Judge Chaffee knows his cases and is not one of those judges who, in law and motion, simply lets the research attorney draft the tentative which always "becomes the final." I am always pleased when we are assigned to try a case before Judge Chaffee because I know that both sides will get a fair shake and we will have a good trial.

Civil Litigation - Private

Comment #: CA8366
I have had several trials with Judge Chaffee over the years. No nonsense but very fair. Be prepared or go home.

Civil Litigation - Private

Comment #: CA7424
Competes for 1st place "worst judge" in OC next to Judge Glass. He is VERY defense oriented and will do everything he can to take a verdict away from a plaintiff without merit or cause. Law of the land? There is none in Department 20, it's Chaffee's Law and no other. I've had other OC Judges tell me he is by far the worst in the building. How he remains on the bench is beyond me. Judges are supposed to be fair and impartial. He is by far all defense and not afraid to show it. Had his rulings overturned on appeal once and now heading to the Appeals Court again for another successful ruling. It will be a 170.6 motion every time I see his name stamped on any document from this point forward.

Civil Litigation - Private

Comment #: CA6662
Chaffee is very close to Farmers Insurance lawyers. They hang out in his department during off hours when it's closed to everyone else. Very shady relationship. I think Farmers backed his judge campaign. He's also very conservative and preaches his politics. Total wind bag.

Civil Litigation - Private

Comment #: CA5890
Judge Chaffee is a former State AG who cannot get over it. His intellectual range is from A to B. If you give him black letter law, then he will follow it - maybe. Nuance and fairness are not his suite. Avoid if you represent a client against the government. Rude and threatening, vindictive. Mean spirited, egotistical and rude. Wastes time stroking his ego with stories purportedly to educate the jurors. Does not allow counsel to respond to objections, refuses sidebars. Tone deaf to prejudicial comments from the bench. Unfair. Should have to learn what it is like to earn a living as a private attorney, if clients could tolerate him. Apparently, has worked for government his whole life and it shows. Rulings before and at trial leave a potpourri of appellate issues.

Civil Litigation - Private

Comment #: CA5856
This judge is not a friend to litigators. He is the least courteous judge i have encountered in 16 years. I have seen him sanction lawyers, even when the opposing attorney requested that the judge not issue sanctions. Trial continuance on the grounds that you are scheduled to have another trial? "you need to tell your client you are too busy to handle his case."

Criminal Defense Lawyer

Comment #: CA5635
I do not like leaving poor comments about a judge but I have to in this case. Judge Chaffee's temperament is very questionable. He was extremely vindictive towards myself and my client regarding a simple procedure (in which we did nothing wrong) but he appeared just not to like us. Frankly he was downright unprofessional and out of line and we could have easily taken him up on a writ for his very questionable ruling. I would avoid especially if you have to try a case with this judge.

Civil Litigation - Private

Comment #: CA5632
Judge Chafee is not a typical OCSC judge, i.e., a dullard or moron, but he is a mean, vindictive asshole when he doesn't like you or your client. He prejudges matters and does everything he can to put his thumb on the scale. His judicial intellect is probably in the top 20% (which is not really saying that much in Orange County) but his temperament is one of the worst. He's almost as surly as David Glass.

Civil Litigation - Private

Comment #: CA5270
I have had a few matters in front of this judge. He is very rule oriented and a stickler for the Code of Civil Procedure, so make sure you know what you are doing going into his courtroom--"flying blind" will definitely screw you over.

As to his demeanor, for a stickler he is fairly nice and makes (usually unfunny) jokes throughout his calendar. He is the type of judge I would definitely prepare to be in front of, but if you are not, he will be angry but not completely bite your head off like some of the more cantankerous members of the bench (i.e. Judge Rolf 'the Wolf' Treu in LA County).


Comment #: CA5246
He is a poor example of how the justice system and why the small claims system is a failure. He basically ruled in my favor and awarded me 1/10 of the original award. The defendant was berating me the whole time in court, and the Judge found humor in this, while he objected to my questioning several times. Any reasonable person who was in my position would have gotten upset.

The appeal the defendant filed was obviously an act of harassment. I am the victim, but yet he was making himself out to be the victim. He accused me of doing this things without any proof and the judge allowed this behavior. My condo is ruined because of this. I have seen this before where Judges in small claims appeal totally throw out and over rule the first decision, but in my case there was physical and emotional damage caused.

If the defendant is given a second chance and knows that if they lose the first trial in a small claims case, they will automatically be given a second chance no questions asked then more and more plumbers, handyman, mechanics will continue to do shoddy work. But the biggest ripe off is an attorney, and Judges are attorney's. In most case(s) they provide no substance of product, and deliver the lowest quality work. Everyone in Orange County knows the court system is just a big business.

Civil Litigation - Private

Comment #: CA4740
This guy is a right-winger all the way. He is impressed with himself and wants you to know it. He treats attorneys in his courtroom like they are children. Any plaintiff should run away from this guy. He is a typical OC judge.

Civil Litigation - Private

Comment #: CA4056
Judge Chaffee is very strict, but also very fair. Be sure to cross your T's and dot your I's and you should be fine. Defense-oriented.


Comment #: CA3781
Rating:Not Rated
Listened to all arguments, saw the forest for the trees and ruled accordingly. As a litigant, I regained my faith in the judicial system.

Criminal Defense Lawyer

Comment #: CA3178
Tried a 2-week bench trial with Judge Chaffee. He was an excellent judge, on top of all the issues, even handed in evidentiary rulings.

Civil Litigation - Private

Comment #: CA1280
Judge Chaffee is a superb trial judge and also really reads cases to make his rulings in cases. He can be strict at times, but he also has a kind demeanor--especially for our men and women in the military because he has a son who is overseas in the military. This jurist is a keeper and a good man also.

Civil Litigation - Private

Comment #: CA598
In bitterly contested case with numerous motions, this judge was acreful, courteous but "pulled the trigger" when opposing counsel went too far. Good civil judge.