Commissioner David J. Cowan, LA Superior Court, Santa Monica

Santa Monica CourthouseCommissioner David J. Cowan, well let me say this, a week ago I had never heard of him and perhaps it is because he is relatively new (2 years)? Or, I just did not pay attention to this part of the county’s divorce courts. The “commish” received his BA from Columbia University and his JD from Hastings College of Law….impressive educational background. And Poof! He gets a spot on the bench…I am sure it was not that easy..he had to have some support.

Two years on the bench as a “commissioner,” prior to that he was a lawyer who practiced real estate, business, tax and estate plaintiff and insurance litigation, so my research tells me. It is not easy finding much on this particular commissioner…a few inappropriate remarks on the net, funny there are several dozen of those about me. Ahh, who cares, they did spell my name right, that is all I care about. But for a commissioner with hopes of getting appointed or elected a Judge… Getting to the position of commissioner, that is not too shabby, either.

What was also tough for us at was what we witnessed in this commissioner’s courtroom. “Orders” that made one wonder, where did that come from, given the evidence before this bench officer, and his lack of common sense in one particular case…it was one of the worst decisions I had ever witnessed ( Old Street Cop thinking out loud). A few lawyers told me that going into chambers in Dept. E is also not always a good idea, as you should want all discussions on the record. Why is that?

Robert M. Cohen, Lawyer, when contacted by, told us, “I like him.” Avi Levy, Lawyer, also told us, “I like his accent” and “he seems like a nice enough guy.” The rest of the comments I feel would do an injustice to the bench and also prevent from ever reconsidering changing our thoughts (one negative comment was from a “shrink,” that one did not count) . Our thoughts on divorce rulings in the Santa Monica Family Law Court, where unlike some places you have choices, here my dears, you have only one: David J. Cowan, Commissioner. To some it must be like wanting a nice chocolate eclair with creamy custard filling and a nice cup of coffee. And when the menu arrives there is only one choice, day-old donuts and a warm cup of water, Hmmmph.

In some cases I wonder does a commissioner get to choose where they go, like traffic court or civil, or???? Do they request a place they might enjoy, or is it “good to have you on board,” go to Dept. %$^& and have fun! ” And you wake up and you are in DIVORCE court, ouch! I have three very good friends who are judges and I recall when two of them went to judge school…can you imagine what that must be like! A bunch of lawyers learning how to be judges!

We will be watching and paying more attention to Commissioner Cowan’s court in the future and will re-visit our thoughts on this subject.

26 Responses to Commissioner David J. Cowan, LA Superior Court, Santa Monica

  1. desperate mom says:

    I was ROYALLY screwed by him too! When I hired my attorney, and told him what his previous court order was regarding custody of my 6 month old daughter, he said, “Commisioner Cowan STRIKES AGAIN!” Best of luck to anyone in his court.

  2. Rebecca says:

    My ex-husband abused me, severely, both physically and emotionally. He has been arrested twice, in two different states, for felony assault against me. My son and I, after the first arrest, were taken out of our family home, which he refused to leave, and were placed by the Department of Children and Families in a domestic violence shelter. After our divorce, in February 2007, he continued his abusive, obsessive abuse and attempts to control my life. He disappeared for several months after his second arrest (after being bailed out of jail on 50,000 bail) but reappeared months later, after Commissioner David Cowan said he could not help me obtain anything other than a TRO, as my ex could not be located to be served. After a few months, I figured my ex had fled back to his home in the UK, and decided that I could not keep going back to court every two weeks to have the TRO reissued. I let it drop..big mistake. My ex called me in January, 2008 (after his second arrest in September of ’07) and accused me of “keep (his) son from him”. He then spent the next few years taking me back to court – Comm. Cowan’s court, in an attempt to use the joint custody of our son to extort money from my family, and constantly change the visitation orders. Comm. Cowan has NEVER read any of the documents my attorneys have prepared, because this is a cut and dry case. Regardless, three years later, and over 150,000 in attorney fees loaned to me by my family (the ex is purportedly ex-parte, although every one of his documents are prepared by an expensive attorney). Despite my ex’s behavior, including his prior arrests, he has filed 18 ex-parte applications, and has not paid a penny of child or spousal support for 9 months! Yet still, Comm. Cowan “can’t figure out what’s going on”. He’s already ordered a focused evaluation, which was a waste of time for us, and achieved nothing. Months later he’s now ordered a FULL custody evaluation, “to get to the bottom of this”. HUH? If this idiot can’t figure out what’s going on in this case, having seen us in court for THREE years already, then perhaps the problem lies WITH THE MORONIC, IDIOT, BIASED, JUDGE! I have many gay friends, who are like family to me, but even they agree that besides the fact that he is gay, unmarried and has no kids of his own, the simple fact that he has never had ANY experience in a court before – ESPECIALLY not a family law court, is just shocking and totally unbelievable. How the hell did this unfeeling, non-empathetic jerk get this gig? Find the criminal who appointed this man to this position and you’ll find another gay man with ties to Cowan, no doubt.

  3. FamilycourtisaVortex says:

    So far Cowen has not made the best choices in the best interest of our child either.

  4. zoe says:

    I am sick to my stomach to see how a judge can make malice choices for families… He is completely bias and full of unethical rules.. I have been in court 20-times for a year and 6 months and he continues to have me jump through hulps.. I pray this courtroom is closed, with the massive cuts.. He needs to be remove,,,

  5. Screwed by Cowan says:

    This Commissioner does not have to live the results of his detrimental decisions he places on families. He is biased and unexperienced.
    It seems that too many families and especially children are suffering and having their lives changed in a negative way based on his very poor decisions.
    I urge everyone out there who may have even the slightest chance of going before him –
    PLEASE DO NOT STIPULATE to this commissioner!! Not only will your lives and the lives of your children being ruined, but you will spend WAY to much time and money. Ask for a REAL JUDGE!

  6. Michael says:

    This Commissioner takes WAY TOO LONG to make decisions. He FAILS to help children in a timely manner. He FAILS to see high conflict abusive people for who they are. He FAILS to understand anything related to Domestic Violence what that does to victims. He FAILS the victims by rewarding the abusers. He FAILS to see the truth and accepts hearsay as evidence. He FAILS by not knowing the law. He FAILS by letting bullying lawyers gain advantage in his courtroom. He FAILS by trusting manipulative liars at their word, thereby damaging the children. He FAILS to reprimand poor behavior in his courtroom and is influenced by it. He is too impressed by resumes and so called experts and FAILS to see the truth. He needs some serious schooling on all things related to DV. He needs to read the Judicial Councils’ guidelines for dealing with DV Cases to empower the victims and the children in his courtroom, rather than letting the abusers continue to control the situation. Shame on him!

  7. Kathy Bernard says:

    I heard he was a fair man, who took too long to make decisions, but after reading these posts, I am terrified! My bf was very abusive, was arrested, a drug user, our daughter is afraid of her father from what she’s witnessed, yet Cowan said ok to 50/50 right off the bat. What is wrong with this man? Shouldn’t he know the law? I hope he reads these threads.

  8. Jim Rose says:

    Okay if Cowan is gay, that would give me hope that he would believe in freedoms and think outside the box. But, he is the most conservative, freedom hating, control mongering judge I have ever come across. He implements the most disgraceful unconstitutional orders that violate a person’s personal freedom. Don’t get me started on what he ordres for children! He doesn’t know the law and binds and restricts the ones looking to the court for relief and safety. Disgraceful and untrustworthy and illogical. Be afraid, very afraid!

  9. Jen says:

    Hmmm…So today in court Cowan grants a restraining order for 1 year against a woman whose ex threatened to kill her after she obtained a small claims judgment against him, keyed her car, harassed her incessently…and why? ONLY because he attached an email to his application in which she called her ex a HOMO. Guess it struck a raw nerve with the commish, who is gay, but isn’t that abusing the legal system because of your own (closeted) issues? I guess there really is no such thing as justice in Cowan’s court room. He must know (or blow) someone to get to be commissioner out of thin air…

  10. sarah says:

    I witnessed the commish side with a convicted woman beating drug dealer. What ever the woman beating drug dealer said the commish seamed eager to believe. You do not have to sign the paper agreeing to have your case heard in his court room. You have the legal right to have your case heard by a judge.

  11. Kate says:

    My case has been in front of Commissioner Cowan for over three years now. Every time we are in front of him he makes orders that completely contradict the previous orders he put in place. It’s as if his rulings are completely arbitrary depending on his mood that day. It’s the kids who end up paying. Cowan has no interest at all in protecting children from dangerous situations. I’ve presented evidence showing incredibly excessive school absences while our children are with my ex-husband, my ex-husband has been homeless more than once, he abuses our children mentally and emotionally, he is negligent of their medical needs, and Cowan continues to order 50/50 custody. It’s pathetic. That man has no business being in family court. Children aren’t experiments.

  12. alice says:

    I went to court on 04/14/2011. My husband is emotionally and mentally unstable. He has NEVER slept in the same room as me and our 18 month old son when we were living together. NOW my husband wants to spend nights with my 18 month old son who still breast feeds. The judge granted him that. I am shocked. There has been an incident involving the police where my husband said he was going to kill me in front of our baby. The judge said that was an isolated incident. I FEAR MY SON WILL BE MENTALLY SCARED FROM THIS ABSURD TYPE OF AUTO-PILOT JUSTICE SYSTEM.

  13. Caterina Bejewels says:

    NEVER, NEVER, NEVER stipulate to this man who is not a real judge. You have the right to have your case before a REAL JUDGE. You can make this known orally to the clerk before your hearing when you do not have an attorney or have the attorney say you will not stipulate to him. If there is a history of violence, abuse of any kind in your relationship and you have children, do not allow Cowan to hear your case. He knows nothing about children or families in crisis, he weakens the victim, makes willy nilly orders, does not follow the law (does not seem to know the family code) and rewards the most antagonistic, conflict acting party. Even the ladies in the domestic violence clinic know not to stipulate to him, they will tell you as you fill out your restraining order, go downtown, to a real judge. But, research the judges, you have the right to say no, with no reason to that first choice, too. Like stay away from Goldberg and Gordon if you can, if you do not have an attorney.

  14. Kim says:

    I was seen by Commissioner Cowan and he screwed me as well. I guess he is too stupid to be a Judge!!!!

  15. RCB says:

    Just finished 5 months in his court room and I am exhausted. I started to type down all that I went through but I just can’t…Needless to say it was a horrible experience with many points made in previous points true and happening right before my eyes…I thought the law was supposed to be judged fairly – But not here

  16. Gina Taylor says:

    This a nightmare commissioner need to go HOME or a Senior Alzheimer Center he doesn’t remember and understand the LAW, Cowan need to take NAMENDA ups…Good luck if any visit Santa Monica Family Court …

  17. d11 says:

    Somebody has to do something about this commissioner. I will be filing a formal complaint thanks to what he put me through for the last year and a half. He has made me spend a fortune and basically let my ex husband get away with murder. Watching him with other cases in the court room, I am continuously appalled by his decisions, if he ever can make one. NEVER stipulate to this commissioner.

  18. Thank you for posting all these, Mr. Nazarian.
    They all qualify my complaints about these inept and corrupt bastards after standing out in front of the Courthouse for over 18 months.

    Happy Holidays to you and your family,
    Sincerely, Damon [and Jazz & Maya]

  19. Bernie B says:

    rumour has it he’s been shuffled off to probate court, not soon enough

  20. Laurie says:

    I have had this judge, and so far, he seems like a nice enough man who is trying to be fair. I do think he needs to take past behavior and deceit to the court further into account when ruling on financial arrears, but all in all, he is a breath of fresh air from all the corruption and delays I have had to deal with in court. His temperment with me, and my sociopathic ex has been very patient. I know and have faith he will see the whole picture at the next hearings. I really thin he tries to move things along, maybe to fast with the financials, but he lets you have your stay, and is compassionate to special needs people. Knock on wood, but I hope he stays!!

  21. Rebecca (2010) says:

    After winning an appeal against this moron, he STILL refused to recuse himself from the case! Nevertheless, after so many complaints about him (from fellow attorneys) to his superiors, the State, the State Bar and more, he has finally been transferred back to whence he came…real estate! This time he’s been sent to the probate court, downtown. Thank God…he can’t do as much harm dealing with dead people! LOL

    The person he’s replacing starts on June 1st, so Cowan will be “assuming the position” on or prior to that date.

  22. d11 says:

    Someone said Cowan is being replaced,however, I called the clerks office, and unfortunately this is not true. I can’t believe the courts allow this criminal to make decisions that are based on nothing more than his biases. He will never read through your papers and he doesn’t know the law. He will force you to keep coming back time after time, and every time you come in, it will be like starting all over because he cannot remember a thing about you or your case even though it is in the file. He will mess up your case so badly that you will go broke before anything is resolved. In fact, I am sure that this is how most of the cases in his court are resolved. People just go broke paying attorneys. You would think the lawyers would love him for enabling them to make so much in fees, however, they all roll their eyes when they hear his name too. So do yourself a favor and stay away from this court.

  23. BnJ says:

    NOOOOOO! Say it isn’t so! Dear God help us all. Cowan simply ruins families. Speaking of that clerk, she won’t even give you an opportunity to stipulate or not stipulate to this arse. They pretend they don’t know what you mean when you say you don’t want your case heard by him. They will give you the run around and warn you that it will take months to transfer your case or file and pressure you into sitting before him. Even when both sides decide they don’t want to have the case in front of him, they still try to make you. Don’t do it, insist on getting out of there, better yet, file downtown to begin with. There’s some well trained new judges on the bench. Any of them will do 400 times better than this nutjob. Send Levanas back to Santa Monica, give these families a chance to manage their cases and try and clean up their lives. Once he goes, there should be opportunities for families to have their entire case managed and looked at. Is this possible?

  24. Valerie says:

    My daughter and her sociopathic, lying, selfish, self-centered, physically, mentally and emotionally abusive husband are before this Commissioner (hereinafter called “Cowan”) presently and Cowan won’t even look at her. He hasn’t read any of her pleadings and is all for the husband. Her ex makes $40k per month (not a typo) and she gets $5k per month in child support. She doesn’t not work outside the home as she has 3 small children. Her attorney’s fees for having to take him back to Court are now over $15,000.00 and climbing. She will be forced into bankruptcy soon. She had to move from Santa Monica because her ex refused to let her raise the children in their home, refused to rent the house to her, refused to sell it to her, and refused to rent it out and split the rent so they could both live comfortably. He rented it out for $25k per month and hides the income through an LLC in his father’s name. She was force to move to San Diego where living expenses were less than in Santa Monica. When she tried to explain these things to Cowan who asked her why she moved to San Diego, Cowan told her it was all hearsay and he didn’t want to hear it. Then her ex got to talk and he was allowed to say anything he wanted to which of course was mostly not true and all as much hearsay as hers was but no objection was made. Cowan should not be on the bench whatsoever. He is not judicial material and not qualified to make fair decisions for families in need of a real Judge. I, as her mother, have seen what her ex has done to her life because he is so selfish and doesn’t care about the welfare of the 3 kids and endangers their lives three weekends a month on Friday and Sunday to put them in a vehicle and make them travel from San Diego to Santa Monica. They hate the trip. Before the divorce, the father agreed to buy or rent a place in San Diego for visitation since he was already flying from San Francisco to Santa Monica prior to the divorce. However, he gave up his job in San Francisco because he has a new girlfriend in Santa Monica, he finds a new job and moves to Santa Monica without proper notice to my daughter and now doesn’t want to commute himself but wants the children transported to and from their home for a 2.5 to 3.5 hour trip each way (depending on the traffic) on a major expressway instead of him commuting himself. Cowan rules, “that’s alright and that they should continue to transport three innocent little lives on the busy highways to and from their homes twice a weekend three weekends a month”. Cowan also asked her if her ex were to commute to San Diego for visitation, did she have a place for him to stay. Excuse me??? Why would she have to provide him with anything? He makes so much money and all she gets is minimum child support to survive on. Clearly, if the situation was reversed and he had the children, he would only let her see them every other weekend and I’m sure he won’t want to bring them to San Diego for visitation and/or provide her with a place to stay if she comes to Santa Monica for visitation. Cowan is soooo ridiculous!! Cowan did not read the pleadings where it was clearly shown that the father previously commuted to see the family while they were still married but now with the divorce it’s too inconvenient for him to commute. It’s not like a 30 minute to an hour trip. It’s a long, hard trip for everyone. There are several other serious issues before Cowan that won’t be mentioned on here but I work in the legal field and I believe with all my heart that this particular Cowan is insane and he needs to be barred from any and all court rooms. Cowan is not fair, just, or proper for a position such as a Judge in any division, not even probate. Cowan would just make the lives of the surviving relatives a living nightmare just as he does in the family division. This is my opinion and I see that I am not alone as I have read all these posts. Cowan needs to be disbarred from ever practicing any law whatsoever. As a note of interest, my daughter graduated from Columbia also. Maybe she should make application to be a Commissioner/Judge. After all, she does have a gay brother. She should qualify by all means, lol. Maybe I should let Cowan know about her brother and maybe he will change his tune as I believe Cowan is obviously discriminatory in the male direction. I think we should all file a class action suit against the State of California and Cowan and whomever else had anything to do with putting him in the Judge’s position. Cowan should never have been allowed to serve in this position. He is so unqualified. Now we are concerned as to how to get her case moved out of Cowan’s control… Any advice is appreciated. She is physically exhausted over this miscarriage of justice.

  25. Caligirl says:

    He’s now in Dept F., still up on high, still ruining families lives. If you’re a dramatic, lying man, with money to burn, mark my words you can do no wrong and legal custody can someday be yours, just bring lots of emergency hearings, don’t respond to any discovery, make up crazy lies about your ex and don’t follow the orders its ok.

    But if you’re a woman, who pleads with the court for help, wants therapy for th family and the kids, god forbid you actually breast feed, too, watch out, no more custody for you! Overnights, be gone. He’ll even force you to make allowances for dear old dad, like how about you let him have more visitation IN YOUR HOME? Its not a problem if he’s been arrested for assault. How about you do ALL the driving to and from exchanges with 2 babies under 2yrs old in the height of traffic. Its not a problem if you work full time and he’s a wealthy trust fund kid sitting at home in Malibu, you should do this for him and by the way, since your asking let’s just give dad some more custody becuase you’re a working mom, it doesn’t matter that there are laws against this. And if you ask too many times for therapy for the family, request that father get help for his alcoholism and abuse, he’ll order just you to go and go and go to therapy, against the family code, against your ability to pay, here’s 3 more months of weekly therapy, just for asking, but no not for dad he doesn’t need it.

    Any attorney worth his salt knows not file any cases with this Nazi on the bench.

  26. BJ says:


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