Honorable Wade Rhyne — Department 37

Biographical Information

  • Undergrad: U.C. Davis, Bachelor of Science, with Honors
  • Law School: U.C. Hastings College of the Law, Juris Doctor, Magna Cum Laude


Judicial Experience

  • Appointed by Governor Edmund G. Brown Jr. to the Superior Court of California, Contra Costa County, May 2017
  • Detailed as Administrative Hearing Officer, U.S. Air Force Reserve Component, Various Dates


Pre-bench Legal Experience

  • Trial Counsel, U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, 2016-17
  • Deputy Branch Chief, Oakland Branch Office, U.S. Attorney’s Office, Northern District of California, 2015-16
  • Assistant U.S. Attorney, Criminal Division, U.S. Attorney’s Office, Northern District of California, 2007-16
  • Law Clerk, Hon. Martin J. Jenkins, U.S. District Court, Northern District of California, 2006-07
  • Litigation Associate, Morrison & Foerster LLP, San Francisco, 2004-06
  • Staff Judge Advocate/Lieutenant Colonel (JAG Attorney), 129th Rescue Wing, Air Combat Command, Air Reserve Component, Moffett Federal Airfield, California, 2004-17 (Reservist)
  • Assistant Staff Judge Advocate (JAG Attorney), United States Air Force, 82d Training Wing, Sheppard Air Force Base, Texas, 2001-04 (Active Duty)


Pre-bench Civic & Professional Activities

  • Contra Costa County Bar Association, Member
  • Contra Costa County, Robert G. McGrath Inn of Court, Member
  • Ninth Circuit Lawyer Representative Committee, Northern District of California, Member
  • Contra Costa County Operation Ceasefire Program, Speaker
  • Bar Association of San Francisco, Member
  • U.C. Hastings Alumni Association, Member
  • U.C. Hastings Alumni Association, Alumni Mentor
  • U.C. Davis Alumni Association, Member


Current Civic & Professional Activities

  • Military Reservist, Lieutenant Colonel, 129th Rescue Wing, Air Combat Command, Air Force Reserve Component
  • Contra Costa County, Robert G. McGrath Inn of Court, Judicial Member and Group Leader
  • California Judges Association, Criminal Committee Member
  • Center for Judicial Education, Criminal Law Primary Assignment Orientation Working Group, Member
  • Contra Costa County Office of Education, Mock Trial Judge Volunteer
  • Center for Economic and Civic Education Moot Court, Contra Costa County, Moot Court Judge Volunteer
  • California Judges Association, Member
  • Contra Costa Superior Court Criminal Committee, Member
  • Contra Costa Superior Court Bail Committee, Member
  • Contra Costa Superior Court Reporters Committee, Member
  • Contra Costa Superior Court Probation Officers Committee, Member


Military Awards, Decorations, and Education

  • Air War College, Graduate, 2021
  • Air Command and Staff College, Graduate, 2011
  • Meritorious Service Medal (w/ one Oak Leaf Cluster)
  • Air Force Commendation Medal
  • National Defense Service Medal
  • GWOT Service Medal
  • Air Force Longevity Award
  • Armed Forces Reserve Medal
  • Small Arms Expert Marksmanship Ribbon
  • Air Force Training Ribbon


Typical weekly schedule

Monday – Friday:  Jury Trials, Criminal Law & Motion, Arraignments, Pre-Trial Conferences, Probation Violation Hearings, Bail Review Hearings, Special Settings/Hearings, Civil Harassment Restraining Order Hearings, and Small Claims Trials. (All as assigned  by the Master Docketing Judge.)

Courtroom Policies

Judge Rhyne generally rules from the bench, unless he has not had an opportunity to review filed pleadings or cited authorities in which case he will take matters under submission. He occasionally requests supplemental briefing or takes the matter under submission to research new issues raised during oral argument.



Judge Rhyne generally does not permit teleconferencing in criminal cases.


Pre-Trial Conferences

Judge Rhyne begins each pre-trial conference calendar by first calling cases that are ready for disposition or trial setting. By doing so, Judge Rhyne seeks to encourage the parties to arrive prepared having already conducted meaningful settlement discussions before the pre-trial conference.



Judge Rhyne prefers parties to brief motions with concise memoranda of points and authorities and to thoroughly address all relevant issues therein.



Judge Rhyne requires counsel to cite all legal authority upon which they intend to rely in their memoranda of points and authorities. In the rare case when counsel cites legal authority for the first time during oral argument, counsel should provide copies of the authority to opposing counsel and the Court prior to argument.



All parties should comply fully with the applicable discovery statutes without the need for Court intervention. Judge Rhyne: (1) requires the parties to meet-and-confer prior to the filing of discovery motions; and (2) encourages the parties to engage in the early exchange of discovery to facilitate case resolution.


Settlement Conferences

Criminal cases should be pre-tried thoroughly before they are assigned out for trial.



In civil harassment cases, Judge Rhyne encourages the use of alternative dispute resolution mechanisms in order to facilitate discussion and to reach mutually agreeable outcomes.


In Limine Motions

Counsel should raise all foreseeable in limine issues, preferably in a single memorandum of points and authorities (one per side) filed with the Court and served on opposing counsel, before the trial begins.


Voir Dire

Judge Rhyne will conduct the initial voir dire examination of the first eighteen prospective jurors using the “Six Pack” method. Counsel will have the opportunity to conduct further examination within reasonable time limits (usually 25-30 minutes for misdemeanor trials) by asking questions reasonably calculated to discover bias or prejudice with regard to the circumstances of the particular case or the parties before the court, in accordance with Cal. Code Civ. Proc. § 223. Counsel may submit proper questions for the Court to ask during initial voir dire. Judge Rhyne will permit additional reasonable time to conduct examination of the alternate jurors. Counsel may not ask any question that, as its dominant purpose, attempts to precondition the prospective juror to a particular result or indoctrinate the jury. Counsel may not directly or indirectly argue their cases during voir dire.


Jury Instructions

Judge Rhyne requests counsel to provide the Court with a complete list of anticipated CALCRIM jury instructions prior to trial. Based on counsels’ submissions and trial evidence, Judge Rhyne will provide a draft set of jury instructions for discussion and argument as soon as possible thereafter.

If counsel intends to display or reference jury instructions during closing argument, then the instructions must be cited and taken verbatim from the Court’s final jury instructions.



Counsel should file and serve lists of anticipated witnesses before trial and exchange other witness information in accordance with the applicable statutes. Counsel should have trial witnesses available for testimony to avoid delays. At the conclusion of each trial day, the parties should disclose their list of anticipated witnesses for the following day.

Judge Rhyne will allow reasonable adjustments in the order of witnesses or the schedule of trial to accommodate witnesses’ schedules. Counsel are encouraged to notify the Court of any witness scheduling issues as soon as practicable to ensure efficient use of the jury’s time.



Judge Rhyne has not imposed sanctions since taking the bench.



Counsel should: (1) produce all documentary exhibits as part of pre-trial discovery; (2) pre-mark documentary exhibits with the assistance of the court clerk, when possible; (3) show all documentary exhibits to opposing counsel prior to using them in court; and (4) provide courtesy copies of all documentary exhibits to the Court, the court clerk, the court reporter, and opposing counsel, when possible.



Judge Rhyne encourages counsel to: (1) remain courteous and professional with opposing counsel, witnesses, the Court, and staff; (2) direct oral argument to the Court rather than to opposing counsel or a party; (3) refrain from interrupting opposing counsel and the Court, as Judge Rhyne will permit all parties to make a complete record at the appropriate time; and (4) strive to accommodate opposing counsel on procedural and scheduling matters, as long as doing so will not compromise a clients’ legitimate substantial interests.


Court Reporters & Translators

A court reporter is required and provided for all criminal cases. Sidebars generally are not reported, but counsel are encouraged to put any matter discussed at sidebar on the record, once outside the presence of the jury.

Translators or interpreters are provided by the Court for defendants in criminal cases when needed. In civil and criminal cases, any party calling a witness who needs a translator or interpreter must provide the translator or interpreter.


Computers in the Courtroom

Judge Rhyne permits the parties to use computers and electronic devices at counsel table for case-related purposes.



Judge Rhyne encourages the in-Court use of audio-visual presentations provided the material has been previously admitted into evidence prior to publishing. Parties are encouraged to request early access to the courtroom to test any audio-visual presentations prior to trial.


Cameras in the Courtroom

News media still and video photography is allowed on a case-by-case basis with advanced written approval and pursuant to the Rules of Court.