Honorable Christopher Bowen— Department 40

Biographical Information

  • Education: Santa Clara University, BS; University of Virginia School of Law, JD
  • Pre-bench Legal Experience: Contra Costa County Public Defender’s Office, 1993-2010
  • Political Affiliation: Democrat


Judicial Experience

  • Richmond Branch Court: 2 years
  • Family Law (Martinez): 5 years
  • Criminal calendar and trials (Martinez): 2 years
  • Supervising judge and direct-calendar felony department (Richmond): 2 years


Pre-bench Civic & Professional Activities

  • City of Richmond Historic Preservation Advisory Committee
  • Contra Costa County Bar Association
  • Bay Area Lawyers for Individual Freedom
  • Robert G. McGrath American Inn of Court


Current Civic & Professional Activities

  • Robert G. McGrath American Inn of Court
  • California Judges Association
  • International Association of LGBTQ+ Judges
  • Association of Family and Conciliation Courts – CA Chapter


Continuing Legal Education Faculty

Frequent Presenter on Family Law topics (CCCBA Family Law Section, AAML, ACFLS) and issues related to intimate partner violence and restraining orders (Lavender Law)


Typical weekly schedule

  • Jury trials usually scheduled Monday-Thursday 10:30-12 and 1:30-4:30
  • Other matters heard Monday-Friday at 8:30 a.m. and as otherwise ordered
  • Court ends by 4:30 p.m.


Courtroom Policies

  • Generally rules from bench on routine matters.
  • Attorneys are encouraged to meet and confer in all appropriate cases.



The court will allow attorneys and parties to appear telephonically or via video on a case-by-case basis and only with advance approval.



Page limitations contained in the California Rules of Court and Local Rules are strictly enforced.

  • Parties and attorneys should not attach unredacted confidential documents to pleadings that will be in the public section of any file. If necessary, confidential documents may be lodged with the court, or a motion may be made to file such documents under seal presented with notice to the other side.



Courtesy copies of all pleadings must be delivered to the department well in advance of any trial or hearing.


Settlement Conferences

Mandatory before most trials.


In Limine Motions

Must be made in writing and filed in advance of trial as ordered by the court, with a courtesy copy delivered to the department.



Witnesses must be advised of all court orders that may relate to their testimony.



Imposed only in the most egregious of cases unless otherwise appropriate or required by law.



Parties, witnesses, and attorneys are reminded not to interrupt each other and not to interrupt the judge.


Court Reporters & Translators

Court reporters are provided by the court in all felony cases and in Domestic Violence Restraining Order cases.  Electronic recording may be used in misdemeanor matters and in other civil matters.  Spoken Language and Sign Language Interpreters are provided to all litigants upon prior request.


Computers in the Courtroom

Computers are allowed in the courtroom for use by counsel only.



Audio-visual equipment may be used with advance court approval.


Cameras in the Courtroom

Cameras and recording devices are not allowed in the courtroom absent prior court order or other administrative approval.


Does this Court prefer courtesy copies delivered to the department prior to hearing?

The court required courtesy copies to be delivered to the department of all pleadings and briefs prior to the hearing or trial.



Repetition of each point raised in written pleadings and is not encouraged. Often it is more effective to focus on one or two key points that are most important.