He was born and raised in California where he attended public schools and received his undergraduate and law degrees at UCLA. After law school, as a Deputy Attorney General of California, he represented the People in criminal appeals and was trial counsel for several state agencies. He was appointed the first chief counsel of the California State Colleges (now California State University). He was General Counsel and Vice Chancellor of the state university when Governor Reagan appointed him to the Los Angeles Municipal Court. He was appointed to the Los Angeles Superior Court by Governor Brown, to the Court of Appeal by Governor Deukmejian, and to his present position as Presiding Justice by Governor Schwarzenegger.
Justice Epstein has lectured at the California Judicial College for 25 years, and continues to lecture widely to judges and attorneys on criminal law, evidence, civil practice and other topics. He is co-author of leading treatises on California criminal law and civil trials and evidence, and has written numerous articles for legal publications.
He was a member of the California Judicial Council and the Executive Board of the California Judges Association, and has served on the boards of many other legal and civic organizations. He received the UCLA Law Alumnus of the Year Award; the Bernard Jefferson Award for distinguished judicial education; the Distinguished Trial Jurist Award from the Los Angeles County Bar Association; the Emil Gumpert Award from the Dispute Resolution Services section of that association; the Bernard Witkin Medal from the Board of Governors of the State Bar of California; the Career Achievement Award from the Criminal Justice Section of the Los Angeles County Bar Association; and the Beacon of Justice Award from the Friends of the Los Angeles County Law Library.
Justice Epstein and his wife have two children, who also were educated in the Los Angeles public schools. His son is a graduate of UCLA and the UC Berkeley (Boalt Hall) School of Law; his daughter is a graduate of Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo. He enjoys his family, bicycling, music, and reading.