Justice Stephen J. Kane was born and raised in San Mateo, California. Following graduation from Bellarmine College Preparatory in San Jose, he attended the University of Notre Dame, completing his undergraduate work in three years with a B.A. degree, magna cum laude, in economics. He received his law degree in 1976 from Hastings College of the Law (Chair, Moot Court Board 1975-1976). He is married with four adult children.

In 1976 he entered the private practice of law in Fresno where he specialized in civil litigation and trial work, handling tort (personal injury, wrongful death, professional liability, employment law and public entity liability) and business litigation cases (contract, construction defect, real estate and crop loss disputes). He became a member of the American Board of Trial Advocates (ABOTA) in 1985.

As a lawyer, Justice Kane was active in the Fresno County Young Lawyer’s Association (President, 1982; Board of Directors, 1978-1983) and the Fresno County Bar Association (Board of Directors, 1982-1984). He was instrumental in starting the Fresno County High School Mock Trial Program (1982) and thereafter acted as an attorney coach and as a mock trial judge for more than 30 years. He received the State Bar President’s Pro Bono Service Award in 1985, the Fresno County Young Lawyers’ Blaine Pettitt Mentor Award in 2010 and the Hastings College of the Law Alumnus of the Year Award (Fresno) in 2014.

In January 1992, Governor Wilson appointed Justice Kane to the Fresno Superior Court. During his 14 years on the Superior Court, Justice Kane handled a variety of judicial assignments, including presiding over civil, criminal, juvenile and family law trials, civil and criminal law and motion, felony sentencing and appellate department work. He was elected the first Presiding Judge of the Consolidated County Courts (1996, 1997), was a full time civil law and motion judge for the Fresno courts (1999-2002) and became the first Supervising Judge of the court’s newly created Civil Division (2003, 2004). During his trial court tenure, he managed civil cases of all types and presided over complex civil jury and bench trials. He conducted hundreds of civil case settlement conferences. He served for several years on Fresno County’s Alternative Dispute Resolution Oversight Committee.

In June 2006 he was elevated to the Court of Appeal, Fifth Appellate District, by Governor Schwarzenegger. During his 11 years on the appellate court, he heard writs and appeals on cases of all types. In 2011 he cofounded the court’s successful Mediation Program. It is the only program of its kind in the state in which the justices themselves conduct the mediations. Justice Kane continued to administer the program and mediate cases until his retirement in June 2017.

As a lawyer, trial judge and appellate justice, Justice Kane has lectured, moderated and participated on numerous educational panels on various law-related topics, including Summary Judgments, Trial Practice, Judgments, Civil Jury Instructions, Expert Witnesses, Writs and Appellate Practice. He served on the Judicial Council’s Presiding Judges Advisory Committee (1996, 1997). He is a member of the San Joaquin Valley Association of Business Trial Lawyers (ABTL) and served on its Board of Governors (2001-2006, Secretary 2004-2006). He was Chair of the Bench, Bar, Media Steering Committee (2006, 2007). He served on the Judicial Council’s Advisory Commission on Civil Jury Instructions (2003-2009).



    • Juris Doctor, 1976
    • Chair, Moot Court Board 1975-1976



    • B.A., Economics, Magna Cum Laude, 1973

    • Member San Joaquin Valley Association of Trial Lawyers (ABTL)

    • Arbitrator Panel Member, American Arbitration Association


    • California


    • Fresno County Superior Court Judge 1992-2006

    • Court of Appeal Fifth Appellate District 2006-2017