Honorable Terri Mockler — Department 27

Biographical Information

  • Education: UC Berkeley, BS in Sociology; Hastings College of Law, JD
  • Pre-bench Legal Experience: 29 years as a public defender, 27 of those in Contra Costa County. For the last 3 years, was a manager supervising both attorneys and non-attorney support staff.
  • Political Affiliation: Democrat


Judicial Experience

Currently assigned as a felony trial department in Martinez.  Prior assignments include family, criminal fast-track department, general criminal in Richmond and in Walnut Creek, 6 months at juvenile hall.


Continuing Legal Education Faculty:

Teach ethics to judicial officers; pre-pandemic devised and presented forums on judicial independence to legal and community groups.


Pre-bench Civic & Professional Activities

Mentored at-risk teen girls through Contra Costa Probation department; have participated in the high school mock trial competitions for nearly 30 years starting as an attorney coach, moving to the role as an attorney scorer, and now as a judicial officer; previously on the board of the Richmond High Law Academy and on the board of the now-defunct Contra Costa Court Scholarship Fund


Current Civic & Professional Activities

  • Took a training course in teaching English as a Second Language and tutored Afghan women in English.
  • On the Boards of Contra Costa Court Scholarship Fund and Richmond High School Law Academy.
  • Member – California Judges Association; Robert McGrath Inns of Court
  • Member of the board of the Friends of the Martinez Library
  • Deliver meals during the holidays to house-bound seniors 
  • Adoption counselor and Hotline coordinator for a local animal rescue organization



Typical weekly schedule

Handle a felony direct calendar assignment


Courtroom Policies

Rules from the bench but may take a recess to research an issue. Rarely take legal issues under submission for any lengthy period.



Courtroom not equipped for this option but department will permit phone appearances on occasion and accepts stipulated continuances by email and unreported minute orders



Should be in writing, including motions to continue trials.



Must comply with local rules.



Encourage parties to work out as much as possible before requesting court intervention.


Settlement Conferences

Current assignment is in criminal. Limited to what she can say/do to resolve a case.



Not applicable to current judicial assignment.


In Limine Motions

In writing, at time trial assigned to her department.


Voir Dire

Court does fairly in-depth questioning. Each attorney gets 15 minutes to voir dire first 18 called. Attorneys should not repeat court’s questions.


Jury Instructions

Submitted in writing, prefer them in the beginning of trial.



No gum chewing, no sunglasses unless there is a medical necessity.



Won’t rule out sanctions but would prefer to resolve conflicts/issues well before the point when one side is requesting sanctions.



Should be shown to opposing counsel well in advance of introduction as evidence or referenced by a witness.



Respect each other, the court and all in the courtroom.


Court Reporters & Translators

Communicate with Judge Mockler about what works and what doesn’t work.


Computers in the Courtroom

Judge Mockler loves them but must bring your own.



The Department is equipped with projector, Elmo, and large screen, as well as with hand-held microphones.


Cameras in the Courtroom

Generally will not be allowed. Judge Mockler will give proponent a fair hearing on the issue after receiving written briefs.



Judge Mockler treats all parties equally and with respect. She expects attorneys appearing before her to do the same.