The Honorable Derek Guy Johnson

Orange County Superior Court, Department W12


The Hon. Derek G. Johnson is a judge for the Superior Court of Orange County in California. He was appointed by former Governor Gray Davis on March 7, 2000, filling a vacancy created by the retirement of Judge Cecil Hicks.

Johnson earned a B.S. from Santa Clara University in 1973. He then received a J.D. from the University of San Diego in 1977.

Johnson began his legal career in 1979. He served as a deputy district attorney with the Office of the District Attorney of Orange County from 1979 to 1987. He prosecuted criminal offenses ranging from drunk driving, robbery, rape, child molestation, and murder. He then moved to Thrifty Corporation, where he briefly worked as an attorney before establishing his own private practice in 1989. From 1989 to 2000, Johnson specialized in the defense of tort cases, including wrongful termination, discrimination, and false arrest.

Johnson received national attention for controversial comments he made during a rape case in 2008. He imposed a lesser sentence on the accused, arguing that “[i]f someone doesn’t want to have sexual intercourse, the body shuts down.” The California Commission on Judicial Performance subsequently admonished Johnson for violating his impartiality.

He was a resident of Corona del Mar, California at the time of his appointment to the Superior Court of Orange County.

Johnson is registered to vote as a Democrat.

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