Tim is currently Commissioner for the San Luis Obispo Superior Court. As a Superior Court Commissioner, his job responsibilities are similar to those of a judge, including presiding over and adjudicating cases in the San Luis Obispo and Paso Robles courts. He also works with the judges as a fellow judicial officer on a daily basis.
Tim was unanimously elected Commissioner by the San Luis Obispo Superior Court judges in February 2016. Twelve of the 13 judges Tim is currently working with are endorsing and supporting him to be the next Superior Court judge. These judges know the depth and breadth of legal knowledge, skills and temperament required to be a judge. Tim is honored by their support to elect him as our County’s next Superior Court Judge.
Tim was born in Roseville, Calif., and was raised in Bakersfield. He graduated from Bakersfield High School in 1979. There he was president of the Key Club service organization, captain of the track team and a member of the debate team.
He attended the University of California, Berkeley, graduating in 1984 with a bachelor’s degree in Legal Studies. One of his best experiences at Cal was interning at the American Bar Association, Special Committee for Dispute Resolution, in Washington, D.C., where he drafted a monograph on dispute resolution.
After graduating Cal, to put himself through law school, Tim worked for four years at a variety of jobs, including packing yeast in a yeast plant, managing a process serving division of a legal services company, and for more than three years, working in and managing a lumber yard.
Tim continued his study of law at the University of Wisconsin Law School in Madison. While in law school, he taught legal research and writing and served as a clerk intern for the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Wisconsin with U.S. District Judge Barbara J. Crabb.
Civil and Criminal Defense/Pro Bono Experience
Tim started his legal career as a civil litigator at the highly respected law firm of Pillsbury Madison and Sutro (now Pillsbury Winthrop), where he represented large corporations and banks in both state and federal courts. He also worked pro bono, representing indigent clients in unlawful detainer proceedings and for the San Francisco Public Defender’s Office (including trying his first jury trial as a public defender).
Criminal Prosecution and Administrative Experience
Driven by his passion for trial work and public service, Tim joined the San Luis Obispo County District Attorney’s Office as a Deputy District Attorney in 1993. He rose through the ranks, becoming a felony team leader, Chief Deputy District Attorney and Assistant District Attorney (second to the District Attorney). In 2014, he joined the Santa Barbara County District Attorney’s office as a Deputy District Attorney, and subsequently became one of two Chief Deputy District Attorneys supervising the Santa Maria and Lompoc offices.
His career in both offices demonstrated his commitment to both trying the tough cases, as well as working collaboratively with criminal justice partners to find alternative solutions to many of the challenges in our criminal justice system. Tim has been endorsed by every elected District Attorney for whom he has worked.
In February 2016, he came home to San Luis Obispo County to serve as Commissioner for the Superior Court. As Commissioner, he has presided over civil small claims, traffic, family treatment court, juvenile truancy and infractions, juvenile drug court, misdemeanor criminal matters, and mentally disordered offender trials; and has issued orders and rulings with respect to such matters (adjudicating more than 7,000 cases to date).
He also has reviewed and issued rulings and orders on petitions for writs of habeas corpus (constitutional challenges to custodial status of prisoners) and emergency protective orders in domestic violence cases, and has received extensive judicial training (including New Judge Orientation, the B.E. Witkin Judicial College, the National Association of Drug Court Professionals Conference and Beyond the Bench 24).
As Commissioner, Tim works with Creative Mediation Services to help small claims litigants resolve disputes in a collaborative non-adversarial fashion prior to court involvement. Family treatment court is a collaborative court in which Tim works closely with County Drug and Alcohol Services, the Department of Social Services and other treatment providers to address drug and alcohol dependency, with the goal of reunifying families after substance abuse and mental health treatment. He also has worked with the Probation Department, Drug and Alcohol Services and the school districts on issues ranging from truancy and education code violations, to homelessness and drug and alcohol dependency in minors.
Tim has been a resident of San Luis Obispo County since 1993. Together with his wife Sue, he has raised two daughters: Zoe, a UCLA graduate and currently a research assistant at the Brookings Institution in Washington, D.C., and Olivia, a senior at the University of Kentucky studying public health. In his spare time, Tim loves to hike, landscape his garden with California natives and hunt and fish with his dad.
Criminal Prosecution and Trial Experience
Tim served as a criminal prosecutor for 23 years, successfully prosecuting and trying some of the most complex and high-profile cases in our County’s history – see key case summary below.
He has prosecuted countless jury trials, as well as briefed and litigated matters in the California Court of Appeals, California Supreme Court and United States Supreme Court.
- Major Murder Cases:
- People v. Hill, Wisto, York, Miller and Greenwell (Dystiny Myers case)
- People v. Derks (first County cold hit DNA murder case)
- People v. Rex Allen Krebs (co-counsel)
- People v. Weyand, McCulloch and McCulloch (Michael Sotelo case)
- Other Major Case Experience
- Criminal street gang prosecution
- White collar crime/embezzlement
- Narcotics trafficking
- Elder abuse – prosecuted SLO County’s first white collar crime elder abuse case
- Mentally disordered offenders
- Organized retail crime prosecution – prosecuted SLO County’s first organized retail crime case
Criminal Justice Experience
For more than 10 years, as Superior Court Commissioner, Assistant District Attorney, and Chief Deputy District Attorney (in two counties), Tim has worked collaboratively with law enforcement agencies, Probation, the Departments of Public Health, Drug and Alcohol Services, Behavioral Health, other treatment providers and criminal defense attorneys to address many of the challenges to our justice system. He supervised large numbers of attorneys during the prosecution of literally tens of thousands of criminal and mentally disordered offender cases, and supervised victim witness professionals, investigators, and clerical staff, and was responsible for developing policy, institutional organization, and administrative issues, including:
- Analyzed and implemented District Attorney policy and response to changes in law
- Acted as primary liaison to Superior Court, Grand Jury and all County law enforcement agencies
- Collaborated with County Counsel, department heads at other County agencies, and City Attorneys on criminal justice-related issues
- Created District Attorney’s Law Enforcement Liaison Program
- Created District Attorney’s Reverse Ride Along Program to provide training to new police officers
- Advocated for Drug Court and was member of the multi-disciplinary planning team for the initial implementation of Drug Court in our County; Drug Court has since become the oldest, largest and most successful collaborative treatment court in our County
- Worked on multi-disciplinary team to develop a Community Court to address issues of homelessness and mental illness in the criminal justice system
- Developed a comprehensive diversion program for first time misdemeanor offenders, and expanded that program after he was appointed Commissioner
- Served as District Attorney representative to Criminal Justice Behavioral Health Oversight
- Investigated and authored findings in officer-involved deaths
Awards and Public Recognition
Tim received the following awards in recognition of his work on the Krebs and Sotelo cases.
- Award of Merit Medal and Commendation for Valuable Service to the Community and Distinction in the Administration of Justice (November 2003), awarded by City of El Paso de Paso Robles
- Certificate of Special Congressional Recognition for Outstanding and Invaluable Service to the Community (December 2001)
- Certificate of Recognition awarded by California State Senate (November 2001)
- Certificate of Recognition awarded by California State Assembly (November 2001)
Distinguished Service Award awarded by the City of San Luis Obispo Public Safety Committee and the Chief of Police (November 2001)
Key Cases in SLO County
As a seasoned prosecutor, Tim has tried some of SLO County’s most difficult and high profile cases.
People v. Hill, Wisto, York, Miller and Greenwell. This 2013 jury trial involved conspiracy and the torture murder of 15-year-old Dystiny Myers by a self-styled methamphetamine dealing ring. All five defendants were convicted of murder, with four sentenced to life without parole.
People v. Peter Derks. San Luis Obispo County’s first cold hit murder case that involved a 20-year-old unsolved murder and sexual assault of a young college student using the most advanced DNA evidence.
People v. Weyand, McCulloch and McCulloch. The 2003 prosecution and joint investigation of the Paso Robles murder for hire of National Guardsman Michael Sotelo, with the Army Criminal Investigative Division and the Paso Robles Police Department. All three defendants were convicted and sentenced to state prison for life without parole.
People v. Vasquez, Mejia. San Luis Obispo County’s first conspiracy case involving national and multinational organized retail crime theft rings. Subsequently Tim was invited to present at a national conference of the National District Attorney’s Association on the subject of organized retail crime.
People v. Rex Allen Krebs. Now retired Judge John Trice and Tim prosecuted Rex Allen Krebs for the brutal murder of two San Luis Obispo County college students. Tim worked with one of the largest law enforcement task forces assembled in the history of San Luis Obispo County that included, among other agencies, the San Luis Obispo Police Department, the San Luis Obispo County Sheriff, CDCR State Parole Division, The Department of Justice Sexual Predator Apprehension Team, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, and the District Attorney’s Office. Tim was responsible for the presentation of all scientific and forensic evidence and witnesses, and all constitutional litigation and pre-trial appellate litigation, including opposing Krebs’ petition for a writ of certiorari in the United States Supreme Court.
People v. Freitas. Vehicular manslaughter case of a 17-year-old pedestrian in or near a crosswalk. Tim supervised the prosecution of the case and personally litigated all pre-trial and post-trial motions.
People v. Baker. This case involved the theft of more than $100,000 from a 103-year-old victim over a period of more than a year. Tim filed the charges, alleging California’s white-collar crime enhancement (the first time this particular enhancement was employed in San Luis Obispo County). Tim litigated the source of bail motion (Penal Code Section 1275.1) and the constitutionality of the seizure of defendant’s assets and her motion to obtain a portion of those assets in order to retain private counsel. The defendant entered a no contest plea to the embezzlement by caretaker, admitted the Penal Code Section 186.11(a)(3) enhancement and was sentenced to three years in state prison, with the recommendation that she serve the sentence at the California Restitution Center.
People v. Benitez. This case was one of the largest highway drug interdiction cases in San Luis Obispo County. The jury returned a guilty verdict on all counts, and defendant was sentenced to 9 years.
People v. Basquez. A three strikes attempted robbery case in which DNA evidence was complicated by the fact that the defendant had an identical twin brother with identical DNA.
People v. Cornelius. The Paso Robles murder of Joe Cornelius by his brother Ted Cornelius, who shot Joe 5 times in the back with a rifle.
People v. Patlan, DeLeon, et al. A five-defendant gang home invasion case arising out of Grover Breach.
People v. Green. Tim litigated a police officer’s decision to enter a defendant’s home at night without a search warrant to check on the welfare of a reported child abuse victim. The California Court of Appeal published an opinion that settled an officer’s right to make such entry under such circumstances.