Honorable John P. Devine — Department 9

Biographical Information

  • Education: Education: University of California, Davis (B.A.); Stanford University (M.L.A.); University of Oregon (J.D.)
  • Pre-bench Legal Experience: Marin County District Attorney’s Office (1996); Watson & Lanctot LLP (1997-2001); California Attorney General’s Office (2001-2018).


Judicial Experience

Appointed by Governor Edmund G. “Jerry” Brown, Jr. in December 2018.


Current Civic & Professional Activities

  • California Judges Association, Member
  • Contra Costa Superior Court Criminal Committee, Member
  • Contra Costa Superior Court Bail Committee, Member


Courtroom Policies

The court provides trial guidelines to counsel. To maximize jury time, counsel should provide notice in advance of any problems that will require discussion outside the presence of the jury, so that the conference can be held before court begins or after the jury leaves for the day.



Not ordinarily permitted in criminal cases.



Motions should be prepared following all applicable rules of court and the Code of Civil Procedure.



They should be sensible, concise, and accurate.



Adhere to legal requirements. Counsel will typically be required to meet and confer about any discovery issues.


In Limine Motions

Any motions in limine should be filed at the first appearance in the trial department. Motions in limine should be limited to circumstances that genuinely require a ruling in advance.


Voir Dire

The court will use the “eight-pack” method. The clerk will call and seat 20 prospective jurors (12 in the jury box). All 20 prospective jurors will be examined initially by the Court and then by counsel for cause. Counsel will have the opportunity to conduct their examination within reasonable time limits to discover bias or prejudice with regard to the circumstances of the particular case or the parties before the Court. Counsel should be familiar with Code of Civil Procedure section 223.


Jury Instructions

Counsel should identify proposed jury instructions at earliest opportunity, providing the list to the court, clerk, and opposing counsel. In their discretion, counsel may provide any legal authority supporting the appropriateness of a requested jury instruction where a question will likely arise about its applicability to the case.



  • Counsel must always have their next witness ready and in the courthouse. Failure to have the next witness ready or to be prepared to proceed with the evidence will usually constitute resting.
  • Throughout the trial, all counsel are entitled to know a firm order of witnesses for the next full court day.
  • Counsel should instruct all witnesses, parties, and anyone affiliated with them – who are attending the trial – not to converse in any manner within the hearing distance of the jurors.



Counsel are encouraged to pre-mark all exhibits with the courtroom clerk prior to trial.



Counsel should endeavor to be civil – and punctual – for all proceedings. To that end, attorneys should be professional and respectful to everyone in the courtroom at all times.


Court Reporters & Translators

A court reporter is provided for all criminal cases. Any party calling a witness who needs a translator must provide the translator.



Counsel are encouraged to meet with the bailiff to schedule access to the courtroom to test any audio-visual presentations prior to trial.


Cameras in the Courtroom

Not permitted, except for news media when prior approval is obtained.