Santa Barbara County Superior Court Judge Timothy J. Staffel has announced his retirement from the court effective Sunday. Judge Staffel has served 24 years as a judge in the Santa Maria division of the court.
Judge Staffel was appointed to the superior court in June of 1998 by Governor Pete Wilson. He presided over Department Three in Santa Maria for most of his career, handling a civil trial department assignment which included long-cause civil trials, family law and probate calendars during the majority of his time on the court.
During his career, Judge Staffel presided over virtually every category of court case, from small claims civil matters to criminal death penalty cases. He presided over a criminal trial department handling serious felony cases to misdemeanors for about eight years during his judicial career.
Judge Staffel served as the North County Supervising Civil Judge from 2008 to 2018. He was also on the Superior Court Appellate panel for approximately a decade. In addition, he has participated as a panelist/instructor on numerous continuing education seminars on various legal topics over the years including civil litigation, family law and probate matters (including guardianship and conservatorship proceedings).
Judge Staffel received his BA from San Diego State University, where he majored in journalism and political science. He did post-graduate work in public finance and previously worked as a daily newspaper reporter (including two years as a sports writer for the Lompoc Record).
He received his law degree from the University of the Pacific/McGeorge School of Law in Sacramento. Additionally, he was a partner with Richard L. Moomau in the law firm of Moomau & Staffel, with offices in Santa Maria and Ventura. The firm concentrated in the area of civil litigation with the emphasis on insurance defense, plaintiff’s personal injury and business litigation.
Before becoming a judge, Judge Staffel was elected to the Santa Barbara County Board of Supervisors in 1992 and re-elected in 1996. He served as Fourth District Santa Barbara County Supervisor representing the Lompoc Valley and the Orcutt community from 1993 to 1998 and was Chairman of the Board in 1995. He served on the California Coastal Commission, appointed by Governor Wilson to represent the Central Coast Region, from 1995 to 1998, which, by statute, was filled by a locally elected government official.
Judge Staffel said bringing stability to county health care services in the Lompoc Valley, assisting in the establishment of the Amtrak train stations in Lompoc and Guadalupe, helping to frame the Orcutt Community Plan and advocating for proper allocation of county services and funding for the North County region were among his proudest accomplishments during his years as fourth district supervisor.
“I sought to be as efficient as possible, be respectful of jurors’ time as they served as trial jurors (in criminal and civil cases), resolve contentious, frequently emotional family law cases as fairly as possible, often under difficult circumstances, and to always start court right on time and be prepared to deal with complicated legal issues,” said Judge Staffel concerning his time on the court.
Judge Staffel has been accepted into the California Assigned Judges Program and plans to assist the Santa Barbara and San Luis Obispo County Superior Courts by sitting as an assigned judge there when requested.
Judge Staffel and his wife, Colleen, plan to remain in the area, where he has been an active member of the Santa Maria Breakfast Rotary Club for more than 20 years.
“There’s no better place than the Central Coast to live and work,” said Judge Staffel.