Justice O'Rourke was born in 1947.
He graduated from Claremont McKenna College in 1969 with a B.A. degree. He received his J.D. degree in 1972 from Harvard Law School.
He was in the private practice of law from 1973 to 1984 in San Diego and Los Angeles prior to his appointment to the Los Angeles Superior Court by Governor Deukmejian in January 1984. In February 1987, he was appointed to the San Diego Superior Court by Governor Deukmejian. Governor Wilson elevated him to the Court of Appeal in 1998.