Honorable Barry Baskin — Department 1

Biographical Information

  • Education: Undergrad, grad, law school, degrees and years of degrees. University of the Witwatersrand, Bacclaureus Procurationis 1978, National Institute of Trial Advocacy (NITA).
  • Pre-bench Legal Experience: From 1979, Judge Baskin was the managing partner of the family law firm, Baskin & Partners, South Africa. His practice consisted of business litigation and family law. In 1987, he emigrated from South Africa to start a new life away from apartheid, settling in Walnut Creek. He was admitted to practice in California in 1987 joining Pillsbury, Madison and Sutro. He served in the firm’s antitrust and intellectual property group. In 1989, he joined Farrow, Bramson, Baskin & Plutzik and became a partner in 1990. Until his appointment to the bench, he served as lead trial counsel in the area of complex civil litigation; representing both plaintiffs and defendants.
  • Other Bar Admissions and Memberships: U.S. Supreme Court, 1991; Supreme Court, South Africa, 1979
  • Political Affiliation: Independent


Judicial Experience

In August 2002 he was appointed to the bench by Governor Davis. Currently the Presiding Judge of the Court. Served in almost all the courts assignments and supervised in Family, in Richmond, in Juvenile and Civil. Served as Justice Pro-tem of the 1st DCA in 2012 authoring 20 opinions, 4 of which were published.


Civic & Professional Activities

  • 1992-2002, served as President of the “Warren Eukel Teacher Trust.” The Trust recognizes and awards four outstanding teachers in the county. Each teacher receives a $10,000 award.
  • In 1996, the Contra Costa Legal Services Foundation recognized Judge Baskin for his pro-bono contributions to the community.
  • 2002 to present, Moot Court Judge for high school competitions.
  • 2006 to present, serves as AOC Faculty for California New Judge orientation teaching Ethics and Trial.
  • 2008-2011, served on California Judges Association Ethics Committee.
  • 2009, awarded “Trial Judge of the Year” by ACCTLA



  • “Summary Judgment After Matsushita” (Anti-Trust, ABA, Vol. 1, No. 3, 1987). Assisted in preparation of the article.
  • “To Discover or Not to Discover, that is the Contradiction,”South African Law Journal, 1981. An article on an anomaly in the discovery rules.
  • “Recognizing and Prosecuting Class Actions,” an article published in the Contra Costa Lawyer in June, 1997.
  • “Reflections of a South African born Jurist,” an article published in the Contra Costa Lawyer in April, 2005.
  • “How to Survive the Social Media Frenzy,” an article published in the Spring 2011 edition of The Bench, the official journal of the California Judges Association.


Courtroom Policies

Generally rules from bench. Issues written instructions to attorneys on trials.



Permitted after notice.



Avoid boilerplate.



Again, avoid boilerplate.



Attorneys must comply fully with obligations.


Settlement Conferences

Judge Baskin is available for settlement conferences.



Not applicable at this time in his current assignment. However, Judge Baskin supports most forms of ADR.


In Limine Motions

Comply with the local rules.


Voir Dire

If you discuss law, do not stray from instructions.


Jury Instructions

Required in advance from both sides.



Witnesses need to be available so as not to waste valuable court time.



Rarely, depends on circumstances.





Court Reporters & Translators

Court reporters are mandatory in most courts. Translators are provided in criminal cases. However, in civil cases, the parties need to arrange for a translator or reporters themselves.


Computers in the Courtroom

Laptops are allowed.



There is no audio-visual equipment available in the courtroom, but all such technology is allowed.


Cameras in the Courtroom

Depends on the facts.



Be prepared on the applicable law.