­­­­­Hon. Mary Fingal Schulte retired from the Orange County Superior Court in 2017 after 20 years on the bench. She enjoyed a distinguished judicial career as a respected trial judge, having herself been an experienced trial lawyer and civil litigator for nearly 20 years before her appointment to the bench. In 2016, Judge Schulte received the Trial Judge of the Year Award from the Orange County Chapter of the American Board of Trial Advocates (ABOTA).

For the last 14 years of her judicial career, Judge Schulte held various civil assignments and has presided over general jurisdiction civil trials, probate and mental health hearings and trials, appellate panel hearings, and long cause family law trials. She was Supervising Judge of the Probate/Mental Health Panel from 2009-2014, and Assistant Presiding Judge of the Appellate Panel from 2008-2009. In addition, she was actively involved in several court committees, including the executive committee; the temporary judge committee, where she developed and supervised the first courtwide training program for the court’s temporary judges and a settlement training program for the Probate Panel’s temporary judges; and the arbitration and mediation committee.

Prior to her judicial appointment, Judge Schulte began her legal career as a Deputy District Attorney for the Orange County District Attorney’s Office. She was then in private practice in Orange County for 13 years as a business and tort trial attorney, including nine years as a partner at Martin Wilson Fingal & MacDowell, with an emphasis in construction, premises and products liability litigation, insurance coverage, and medical malpractice cases. 

Judge Schulte is very proficient in French.

 
AREAS OF EXPERTISE

  • Probate, Estates & Trusts
  • Personal Injury and Products Liability
  • Medical and Legal Malpractice
  • Partnership Disputes
  • Insurance Coverage
  • Employment
  • Family and Elder Law
  • Breach of Contract, Real Estate
  • Discovery and Judicial Reference
  • Construction Contract Disputes



JUDICIAL EXPERIENCE

Judge of the Superior Court of California, County of Orange   1998-2017

Civil Court Assignments:

  • General Jurisdiction Civil Trials Panel, 2014-2017
  • Supervising Judge, Probate/Mental Health Panel, 2009-2014
  • Assistant Presiding Judge, Appellate Panel, 2008-2009
  • Appellate Panel, 2007-2009
  • Long Cause Family Law Trials, 2007-2009
  • General Jurisdiction Civil Trials Panel, 2003-2009


Judge of the Municipal Court of California, County of Orange   1997-1998

  • Appointed by Gov. Pete Wilson, August 25, 1997
  • Elevated to Superior Court, August 10, 1998

 


LITIGATION EXPERIENCE

Partner and Vice-President, Martin Wilson Fingal & MacDowell   1988-1997

  • Civil litigation practice emphasizing construction, premises and products liability, insurance coverage, and medical malpractice


Associate, Martin & Wilson   1987-1988

Associate, Gardner & Martin   1984-1987

Deputy District Attorney, Orange County District Attorney’s Office   1978-1981



AWARDS

  • Trial Judge of the Year, ABOTA – Orange County Chapter   2016
  • Judicial Civility Award, Robert Banyard Inn of Court   2013
  • Judicial Civility Award, ABOTA – Orange County Chapter   2003
  • St. Thomas More Award, St. Thomas More Society of Orange County   2002

 


EDUCATION

  • Straus Institute for Dispute Resolution at Pepperdine, “Mediating the Litigated Case” 2018
  • Straus Institute for Dispute Resolution at Pepperdine, “Elder Care Mediation” 2018
  • University of California at Davis, Juris Doctor 1977
  • California State University at Fullerton, Bachelor of Arts in History 1974


BAR ADMISSIONS

Admitted to practice before all California State Courts, all Federal District Courts (trial level) in California, and the United States Supreme Court


PROFESSIONAL AFFILIATIONS

American Board of Trial Advocates  (ABOTA)

ABOTA Foundation, Senior Life Fellow
ABOTA Foundation, Legacy Fellow – Patriot of the Foundation

State Bar of California 
Robert Banyard Inn of Court, 
Member, Board of Directors, 2000-Present; President, 2010-2012

California Judges Association
International Academy of Trial Judges
Orange County Bar Association
Italian American Lawyers of Orange County
Orange County Trial Lawyers Association


COMMUNITY INVOLVEMENT

Chairperson, Ecumenical and Inter-Religious Commission for the Diocese of Orange, 1999-2005
Oblate, Order of St. Benedict, affiliated with St. Andrew’s Abbey in Valyermo, California
Member, Advisory Board, St. Andrews Abbey, Valyermo, California
Hospice Volunteer
Constitutional Rights Foundation, 
Mock trial coach and volunteer judge, 1997-Present

Available for mediations, arbitrations, discovery reference, and private trial

RESUME

Hon. MARY FINGAL SCHULTE

Judge, Orange County Superior Court (Ret.)