50 for 50 Spotlight: Judge Judith L. Meyer (JD ’93)

“It gives me an adrenaline rush to help others become passionate about the same subjects I’m passionate about…I want to pay it forward for all those people who helped to educate me!”

In between serving as an adjunct law professor, writing books, and whitewater rafting the Grand Canyon, Judge Judith Meyer (JD ’93) presides over criminal felony trials for the Superior Court of Los Angeles County. Prior to taking the bench, she was a criminal prosecutor for Los Angeles County and Ventura County. Since assuming the office of Superior Court Judge in 2006, “Judge Judy” has considered her role as one who ensures honesty and integrity of decisions. In addition, she is an instructor for her judicial colleagues and an adjunct law professor at various law schools, including the Online Master of Law Program at Pepperdine Caruso Law, where she teaches a variety of subjects including: Evidence, Criminal Law and Procedure, Trial Advocacy, Criminal Motions and Negotiation Theory and Practice.  

More recently, Judge Judy Meyer has adapted her extensive teaching resume and years of courtroom experience as both a prosecutor and judge into a new book, The California Criminal Motions Survival Guide. “I finally found the time to turn my teaching materials into a more acceptable format for a book,” she says, “and I’m just ecstatic about it getting published. I  want to pay it forward for all those people who helped to educate me!” Meyer describes the book as an extension of her desire to help all lawyers looking to practice in criminal court, a “quick and dirty guide” to the terminology of most of the issues that emerge. 

After a Pepperdine Caruso Law career counselor conducted a personality test on her, Meyer says that she found her place in legal practice with criminal law. She elaborates, “Originally I went into Pepperdine thinking ‘I want to do legal defense for the ski industry, especially with my background as a professional ski patrolman.’ Then, I thought I wanted to help deaf people with legal issues (because I knew Sign Language). But, as fate would have it, the ski industry law firms did not even grant me an interview because I did not come from [a certain] law school. So my career counselor steered me to the DA’s office, and I fell in love with criminal law.”

Early in her career on the bench, a new Deputy DA told Meyer about one of his colleagues who seemed to have much more knowledge about our “criminal vocabulary” than the other new attorneys. He told her that his colleague had taken a criminal motions class at Loyola Law. As it turned out, a Los Angeles County judge was the instructor for that class. Meyer then called that judge, and he shared his curriculum with her. She later pitched the idea for this class at Whittier Law School, where she was already teaching Evidence and Trial Advocacy. They loved the idea, so she created a class filled with Power Point slides and case law. 

Many students found the resources she gave them to be invaluable in the criminal arena, and thus inspired her to write them into a book format. Pepperdine President Jim Gash describes the book as a “must have resource for all attorneys looking to navigate the wagon of criminal law…every chapter a goldmine of information.”

Meyer credits Professor Carol Chase as a great inspiration to her professional trajectory. She is currently writing another legal resource on Evidence, the course taught by Chase before her retirement earlier this year.

When asked what she anticipates in the next era of Pepperdine Caruso Law, Meyer says she expects that the school will rise to the ranks of a top 25 law school. 

The California Criminal Motions Survival Guide is available for purchase on Amazon.