Candidate Statement for the Bar Association

I am seeking this office to fulfill an ultimate goal to serve as a superior court judge, coming off years at the University of California (UC) and Judicial Council of California, Administrative Office of the Courts (JCC/AOC) overseeing litigation around the state. I want to promote awareness and discussion of issues, and help effect positive change at the court. There are times when change is appropriate and healthy. I believe that stepping up — as I am doing — can help constructively accomplish that. My experience in private practice and in public employment, and the roles I have served, provide clear pictures of good and poor in judicial performance and court services. They also give me a passion for process improvement, efficiency, and consistent quality that I will bring to our court.

This election is nonpartisan and I embrace that classification. For this and other reasons, I am not seeking political endorsements or special interest support. My sense is these are out of place in this race for judicial office. I think it is healthy, however, to talk about issues. I would be pleased to hear about issues that are important to you, your area of practice, and the community.

In running, I am pointing out a systemic issue. Superior court judges serve six-year terms by Constitutional design in California and continue in office by retention elections. In practice, most never really face the electorate. They are appointed and, when their term is ending, are unopposed and their names do not appear on a ballot. The system we have favors this pattern of unopposed incumbency. Judges get accustomed to this and continue on, sometimes too long. Voters get no information and remain largely uninformed without any contested election. If you haven’t seen it, please read the working paper I wrote about this, posted at our website,

My background is on the website and also my LinkedIn profile at Briefly stated, my wife, Marie, and I have lived in San Carlos for 30 years and raised our children here. Marie is an attorney, making her career in-house at technology companies on the Peninsula. We love the dynamic quality and diversity of San Mateo County and have lived it as a multiracial family. As a partner at Hassard Bonnington in San Francisco, I litigated and tried cases throughout Northern California including San Mateo County. I left the firm to work for the JCC/AOC to help implement a new litigation management program for the court system. This was successfully established. I was then hired by the UC for a systemwide role overseeing a large litigation program. These positions brought me to courtrooms, mediation offices, and proceedings in countless cases around the state.

I aim to apply this experience and the perspectives and skills it provides to this office as judge and to the court to help with the services the court provides. I ask for your support and vote.

Richard W. Wilson

Candidate for Judge of the Superior Court

Candidate Statement for SMCBA

500 word limit by rule

Working Paper on Appointment and Selection of Superior Court Judges by Richard Wilson

This paper briefly explains how superior court judges (also referred to as trial court judges) gain office in California and some of the opinions expressed in writings on how the judicial election system operates. Each of California’s 58 counties has a superior court. The legislature determines the number of judges in the courts. As explained below, judges serve their terms subject to reelection. The issue being highlighted here is retention elections and the always present – but seldom occurring – possibility of opposition. My perspective is outlined in Section III, below, based on experience and observation from 30 years of litigation practice.

The information in this paper will help provide background for the June 5 election in San Mateo County where the contest will play out for the office occupied by Judge Gerald Buchwald.

Richard W. Wilson

Candidate for Judge of the San Mateo County Superior Court

Read the Working Paper on Appointment and Election of Superior Court Judges in full.

California Superior Court – Fact Sheet

Richard Wilson is running for Superior Court Judge Office #2. The California Legislature determines the number of judges in each court, and there are 1,732 Superior Court Judges in California across 58 counties. Superior Courts have jurisdiction over both case types, criminal and civil.

The California court system—the largest in the nation, with approximately 2,000 judicial officers and more than 6 million cases—serves more than 39 million people.

Interested in learning more about the judicial branch of California? California Judicial Branch Fact Sheet

Official Ballot Candidate Statement

My qualifications begin with living in San Mateo County for 30 years and raising our children here with my wife, also an attorney. We love this diverse and dynamic community. My legal qualifications stem from broad experience working with courts, judges and countless cases in Northern California and around the state in a litigation law firm and in public employment.

This includes systemwide roles as staff counsel for the Judicial Council of California (governing body of the court system) and senior counsel, litigation for the University of California. This election is a rare opportunity for you to have a say in who will serve as judge. Typically, judges whose terms are up run unopposed and they don’t appear on the ballot. This year, nine judges are being automatically “elected” this way. I am running for office believing I can bring needed fresh perspective and energy to the court and promote efficiency and improved services based on my experience. I am running also out of conviction this pattern of perpetual unopposed incumbency is not always in the best interests of the court and community. Your vote is a choice between candidates and a signal—and I ask for your support.

200 word limit by rule

New Process for June 5 Election

In 2016 California passed the California Voter’s Choice Act. This allows counties to modernize their elections through a new model, which promises to provide voters greater flexibility and convenience.

San Mateo County is one of five counties choosing to utilize this new model, and June 5 will be the first election in which San Mateo County changes how they engage with voters. Voters in San Mateo County will be able to choose how, when, and where to cast their ballot. Some key changes are:

  • Every voter will be mailed a ballot and voter guide, and can vote with that ballot by mail
  • In-person early voting will expand
  • Voters can cast their vote at any vote center in the county

We believe this will mean more people will take the opportunity to vote, given the flexibility the California Voter’s Choice Act offers. Find out more on the California Secretary of State website.