Cited on numerous occasions for his work in the areas of both social reform and civic philanthropy, Judge James P. Gray currently presides over the civil trial calendar for the Superior Court of Orange County.
Judge Gray was appointed to the Santa Ana Municipal Court in 1983 by Governor George Deukmejian, and in 1989, Deukmejian elevated Gray to his post with the Superior Court.
Throughout his 29-year career within the legal and judicial community, Jim Gray has not only donated hundreds of hours of volunteer time to existing community service-oriented activities, he also has created and implemented a number of innovative programs of his own, each one a success story in itself.
For instance, it was Jim Gray who introduced Orange County to the Peer Court System, where juvenile defendants travel to a school outside their district to have their actual cases tried by other teenagers.
Gray, who also has worked closely with Mothers Against Drunk Driving, helped form a MADDDUI panel in 1987 whereby defendants were made to listen as victims of drunk driving told their heartbreaking stories. This program is ongoing and has been recognized as one of the most effective within the MADD organization and the court system. Along these lines, as a member of the California Department of Alcohol and Drug Program’s Drinking Driving Program Advisory Committee, he recommended treatment programs to combat the DUI problem. To that end, he helped establish a program whereby youthful offenders of drunk driving laws were sentenced to visit the Western Medical Trauma Center. Still today, these youngsters are made to witness the devastating injuries of drunk driving victims. This program is also cosponsored by the Volunteer Center of Orange County, where Gray has served as a board member.
Other such related efforts include his work as a co-founder of “Drive Alive” — along with the Orange County Health Care Agency and MADD — a promotional publicity campaign for students who were invited to compete in writing Public Service Announcements to deter their fellow teens from drunk driving. Students, who win prizes for their efforts, also produced bumper stickers and other promotional materials aimed at the same theme.
Other civic contributions include his work with the “Stay In School” program at both Willard Intermediate and Santa Ana High Schools. Not long ago, Gray was also lauded for his contributions as a co-founder of BLAST (Bert Bylevens Leagues, After School Time) — a program providing children with after school athletics and recreation through the Garden Grove School District, the Garden Grove Police Department, the Orange County Probation Department, and the ministry of the Crystal Cathedral.
Other organizations Judge Gray has helped to found include: the Association of Former U.S. Attorneys, which is a group that meets yearly to share ideas and present keynote speakers; and the William P. Gray / Legion Lex Inn of Court in conjunction with USC Law School, which was founded to increase ethics, education, and professionalism for judges and lawyers.
The son of a highly regarded federal judge, “Judge William P. Gray“, Gray was raised in the Los Angeles area and attended schools in both La Canada and Pasadena. He received his undergraduate degree from UCLA in 1966 and a Juris Doctor from USC in 1971.
Gray served in the Peace Corps in Costa Rica for two years and also served as a staff judge advocate and criminal defense attorney for the U.S. Navy JAG Corps in both Guam and Lemore, California. He was awarded a National Defense Ribbon, a Vietnam Service Ribbon, and a Combat Action Ribbon during his tour of duty. He also worked as a federal prosecutor for the U.S. Attorney’s office in Los Angeles, where he received numerous letters of commendation from federal agencies, and in private practice in civil litigation in Newport Beach for five years.
Judge Gray has won a host of awards over the years, including “Judge of the Year” in 1992 from the Business Litigation Section of the Orange County Bar Association, and in 1995, was given that same honor by the Orange County Constitutional Rights Foundation. He has also received the Drug Policy Foundation’s prestigious “Justice Gerald Le Dain Award” for achievements in the field of law.
Gray has also received letters of commendation from the Orange County Board of Supervisors for his creation of a successful drinking-driver sentencing program, and from the Judge Advocate General of the Navy for his work in handling claims resulting from a Medivac airplane crash in the Marshall Islands.
Additionally, Judge Gray has been a member of the California Judicial Council, as well as the California Judicial Council’s Advisory Committee on Juvenile Law, the Alcohol Advisory Board to the Orange County Board of Supervisors, the Advisory Board of the California Department of Alcohol and Drug Programs, the Republican Finance Committee of Orange County, and the Orange County Law Library. He has also been a member of the Board of Councilors of the USC Law School.
Although Judge Gray has championed many causes, none has been more bold than his work to combat the illegal drug problem in America. Gray continues to mobilize civic leaders, government officials, corporations, non-profit organizations, the media, and the public around the country to join him in exploring alternate solutions to reduce this chronic problem.
In addition to his ongoing civic activities and philanthropic work, Jim Gray has been an adjunct professor at Chapman University, the College of Trial Advocacy for new Orange County attorneys, and the Continuing Legal Education of the Bar.
Judge Jim Gray is married to Grace Walker Gray and has 4 children, Bill, Jennifer, Morgan and Ky, the latter of Vietnamese descent whom Gray adopted as a 13-month old. Gray lives in Newport Beach, California, and is a member of the Garden Grove Methodist Church.