Honorable Cheryl R. Mills — Department 19

Biographical Information

  • Education: Undergrad: University of Minnesota, BS in Medical Technology from the U of M School of Medicine; Grad: MBA program at the University of Montana; Northwestern School of Law at Lewis and Clark College, JD
  • Pre-bench Legal Experience: Private practice with a focus on Medical Malpractice defense; Insurance Coverage on behalf of policyholders; Toxic Tort litigation; Superfund litigation and general business litigation


Judicial Experience

Judge Mills was elected to the bench in November 2002. She is currently assigned to the Pittsburg branch handling primarily the criminal calendar.


Current Civic & Professional Activities

On the Training Committee; Operations Committee; Technology Committee and Court Reporters Committee.


Continuing Legal Education Faculty

CEB lecturer.


Courtroom Policies

Judge Mills places a great emphasis on attorneys knowing and preparing for evidentiary issues likely to be encountered during trial. She expects all attorneys to know and follow proper procedures. Judge Mills spends significant time and effort researching and preparing her rulings.



Not available.



Motions should be prepared following all applicable rules of court and California Codes.



Judge Mills does not like “boilerplate” briefs.



Standard discovery is not applicable in criminal matters handled by Judge Mills.


In Limine Motions

In Limine Motions are heard the day of trial.


Voir Dire

Judge Mills allows counsel to orally voir dire the jury but cautions against trying the case during voir dire questioning.


Jury Instructions

Judge Mills wants all jury instructions submitted in the format ready to be read to the jury with all information filled in or deleted as appropriate.



Witnesses must be ready to proceed to avoid any delays in the trial.



Judge Mills does not typically sanctions except for serious or repeated violations.



Counsel is to anticipate and be prepared for all evidentiary issues for exhibits and is expected to lay the proper foundation.



Judge Mills expects all counsel to be civil and respectful to opposing counsel as well as to her staff.


Court Reporters & Translators

Both are available for criminal proceedings.


Computers in the Courtroom

No specific rules.



Not available in the courtroom.


Cameras in the Courtroom

Determined on a case-by-case basis.



Choose your objections carefully and use them to benefit your case. Not everything objectionable needs to be objected to and to do so distracts from your presentation to the jury and court.


Updated 3/22/2013