Michael J. Raphael, Associate Justice

Associate Justice Michael J. Raphael photo Justice Raphael is the fourth generation of his family to live in Southern California, though he is the first lawyer or judge.  Justice Raphael graduated in 1990 from Rice University and in 1993 from Yale Law School, where he was a senior editor of the Yale Law Journal and an editor of the Yale Journal of Law & Policy.

Justice Raphael began his legal career as a law clerk for the Honorable Nathaniel R. Jones of the United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit.  Justice Raphael then practiced as a trial and appellate litigator in the Washington D.C. office of a national law firm.

Justice Raphael next worked as an investigative counsel for the Government Reform Committee of the United States House of Representatives, handling the investigation of campaign fundraising that arose from the 1996 Presidential election.  During that time, Justice Raphael also taught writing and advocacy courses as an adjunct professor at the George Washington University School of Law.

In 1999, Justice Raphael returned to the Los Angeles area and spent over twelve years as an Assistant United States Attorney in the Central District of California, prosecuting over 60 federal felony cases in trial court.  Justice Raphael also was appointed as special counsel in the Northern District of California (San Francisco) and successfully investigated and prosecuted the illegal leak of grand jury testimony provided by Barry Bonds and other athletes in the course of a government investigation of steroids in sports.

As an AUSA, Justice Raphael served as chief of the Criminal Appeals Section from 2007 to 2012 after serving as deputy chief from 2005 to 2007.  As chief, Justice Raphael oversaw an annual appellate docket of roughly 300 briefs and 100 oral arguments in the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit.  Justice Raphael personally argued 41 cases in Ninth Circuit on behalf of the United States, including three en banc cases presented to an 11-judge panel.  Justice Raphael co-taught Advanced Appellate Advocacy at the Gould School of Law at the University of California in 2005 and 2006; he also co-taught a seminar in criminal sentencing in 2008.  Justice Raphael lectured frequently on appellate brief writing and oral argument while an attorney.

In 2012, Justice Raphael became a Judge on the Los Angeles Superior Court upon his appointment by Governor Jerry Brown.   On that court, Justice Raphael initially handled assignments that included small claims, limited civil, unlawful detainer, and criminal misdemeanors.  He then served in the downtown civil “law and motion” courts that handled pretrial cases for the entire county in limited civil and personal injury cases.  For Justice Raphael’s last three years on the trial bench, he was assigned to a downtown civil independent calendar court, with a docket of a wide variety of civil cases.  While on the trial court, Justice Raphael was twice appointed to serve as a pro tem Justice in Division Five of the Second District Court of Appeal.

In 2018, Governor Brown nominated Justice Raphael to serve as an Associate Justice on the Court of Appeal, and he was unanimously confirmed by the Commission on Judicial Appointments, after receiving an “exceptionally well qualified” rating from the Judicial Nominees Evaluation Commission.

While on the trial and appellate bench, Justice Raphael has authored several dozen articles in legal publications, has taught several judicial education courses, and has spoken frequently at legal education events for attorneys.

Justice Raphael is married to a practicing lawyer, and they have two school-age sons.