Justice Richard J. McAdams was appointed to the Sixth District Court of Appeal by Governor Gray Davis in 2003. Prior to his appointment to the appellate court, Justice McAdams served as a judge in Santa Cruz County for over 26 years. In 1977 Governor Jerry Brown appointed him to the Municipal Court where he handled criminal and civil cases as well as small claims court and traffic court matters. Justice McAdams served as the Presiding Judge of that court in 1980, 1984, 1987 and 1990. Prior to the consolidation of the courts, he was assigned to the Superior Court of Santa Cruz beginning in 1994 where he handled the family law calendar for four years. In 1998, Justice McAdams was elected to the Superior Court just as the California courts were consolidated. During his tenure in Superior Court, in addition to the family law assignment, Justice McAdams handled one of the two civil departments for five years as well as probate and criminal department calendars. He was the Presiding Judge of the Civil Grand Jury for two years and a member of the Superior Court Appellate Department for three years.
Prior to his appointment to the bench, Justice McAdams was engaged in the private practice of law as a solo practitioner in 1973 and then as Fox, McAdams and Popin from 1974 to 1977, with a general civil and family law practice. From 1970 to 1973, he served as an attorney and later acting director of the Legal Aid Society of Santa Cruz County. While there he founded the Senior Citizens Legal Services, a nationally recognized office specializing in the legal problems of the elderly. Before his legal services work in Santa Cruz County, Justice McAdams was an associate attorney with a San Francisco law firm, Jarvis, Miller and Stender from 1969 to 1970 in civil practice, primarily personal injury litigation.
Justice McAdams earned his A.B. degree from The University of California, Berkeley in 1965 and his J.D. degree from Hastings College of the Law in 1968.
Justice McAdams has been active for many years in judicial education and judicial administration programs. He was a member of Civil Law Education Committee for the California Center for Judicial Education and Research (CJER) from its inception in 2000 until 2004 and served one year as its Chair. He has served as the Chair and a member of Continuing Judicial Studies Program from 1996 to 2000; a member of the faculty of that program from 1989 to 1996 and from 2005 to 2008; a member of the faculty of the California Judicial College from 1991 to 1995 (civil law) and 1997-1998 (family law and domestic violence); and a member of the faculty of the Civil Law and Procedure Institute at various sessions from 1987 to 2002. In addition, he has served on CJER's Civil Proceedings Benchbook Planning Committee since 1991 and the Publications Committee since 1990. Justice McAdams has been a member of the California Judges Association (CJA) since 1977, served on the Executive Board from 1989 to 1992, and has served on various CJA committees including Civil Law and Procedure, Family Law, Discipline and Disability, Courts and Technology, Judicial Elections, and Courts Administration, as well as participating for many years as a member of the Judicial Discipline Advisory Panel. He has been a panelist at several CJA conferences. Justice McAdams has also served the Administrative Office of the Courts as member of various Judicial Council advisory committees, including the Supreme Court Advisory Committee on Rules for Publication, the Appellate Indigent Defense Oversight Advisory Committee, the Courts of Appeal 100th Anniversary Steering Committee and the Appellate Court Legacy Project Committee. He was recently appointed by the Chief Justice to the Advisory Committee on Civil Jury Instructions.
In 2005, Justice McAdams traveled twice to Macedonia, under the auspices of the USAID-sponsored Macedonia Court Modernization Project, as part of a three-judge international judicial education team training appellate and trial judges on the implementation of their country's new civil procedure system. In 2007, he was one of 20 American judges invited to the Netherlands by the International Judicial Academy to attend the Sir Richard May Seminar on International law and International Courts held in The Hague.
Justice McAdams was born in Albany, California. He and his wife Claire McAdams have been married since 1965; they have two adult daughters and several grandchildren. They are involved in many Santa Cruz County community activities.