Justice Rylaarsdam is a 1957 graduate of the University of California (Berkeley) where he received a Bachelor of Science degree. He graduated cum laude from Loyola Law School (Los Angeles) in 1964 and, in 1998, received a Master of Laws degree from the University of Virginia School of Law. He was admitted to practice before the California and federal courts in 1964 and became a member of the bar of United States Supreme Court in 1971.
From 1964 to 1985, Rylaarsdam practiced civil litigation with offices in Los Angeles, Pasadena and Newport Beach. He specialized in insurance law, legal malpractice, construction and contract litigation. During the period of his practice, he served as a hearing officer for lawyer discipline cases. He also served on a number of committees for the California State Bar and engaged in various community activities, including the Pasadena Human Relations Committee and the Pasadena Planning Commission.
In 1985 Governor Deukmejian appointed Rylaarsdam as a judge of the Los Angeles Superior Court and in 1986 the same Governor transferred him to the Orange County Superior Court. While a judge on the Los Angeles and Orange County Superior Courts, Rylaarsdam heard civil, criminal and family law trials. While on the Orange County Superior Court he also acted as supervising judge of the law and motion and complex litigation panels.
In 1995 Governor Wilson appointed Rylaarsdam as an associate justice of the California Court of Appeal, where he hears appeals from the Superior Court in civil and criminal cases. He was appointed by the California Judicial Council to serve on its Appellate Task Force and Complex Litigation Task Force.
Justice Rylaarsdam has published over 60 articles, primarily on legal subjects. For many years, he served as an advisor to the Executive Committee of the Litigation Section of the State Bar. For many years, Rylaarsdam wrote a monthly newsletter on new legal developments which was distributed to members of the judiciary and the members of the Litigation Section. He also serves on the editorial board of California Litigation, the journal of the Litigation Section.
Rylaarsdam is co-author of two widely used texts, California Civil Procedure Before Trial and California Civil Procedure Before Trial: Statutes of Limitations, both published by The Rutter Group. He has extensive teaching experience. Between 1973 and 1978 he was an adjunct professor of law at Loyola Law School. Between 1990 and 1994 he was a lecturer in business law at the University of California (Irvine), Graduate School of Management. In addition, he has been a frequent lecturer in programs for the continuing education of lawyers and judges.
Justice Rylaarsdam and his wife Jan, a former library assistant at the University of California, Irvine, have been married since 1957 and have four children and seven grandchildren.
Following the retirement of Presiding Justice David Sills in 2011, California Chief Justice Tani Cantil-Sakauye named Justice Rylaarsdam to be acting presiding justice for Division Three. Justice Rylaarsdam served in this role until the elevation of Presiding Justice Kathleen O’Leary in early 2012.
Justice Rylaarsdam retired from the Court of Appeal in 2016.