Justice Fybel was born and grew up in Southern California. He is a graduate of the University of California at Los Angeles (A.B. 1968) and the University of California at Los Angeles School of Law (J.D. 1971; Law Review; Order of the Coif).In February 2002, his appointment as an Associate Justice of the Court of Appeal, Fourth District, Division Three (Santa Ana) was confirmed by the Commission on Judicial Appointments. Justice Fybel was a judge of the Orange County Superior Court since April 2000. His assignments included criminal and civil cases.
Since 2004, Justice Fybel has been the Chair of the California Supreme Court’s Advisory Committee on the Code of Judicial Ethics. Effective January 2013, the Supreme Court amended the Code in a comprehensive manner based on recommendations of its Advisory Committee. He was also the Chair of the California Supreme Court committee responsible for recommending the structure and rules for the Supreme Court Committee on Judicial Ethics Opinions.
Justice Fybel is the recipient of the Franklin G. West Award presented by the Orange County Bar Association (OCBA) in January 2014. The West Award is the highest honor of the OCBA and is given annually to an attorney or judge who has made significant contributions to advance and elevate justice and law.
Justice Fybel was the 2005 UCLA Law School Alumnus of the Year for Public and Community Service. Justice Fybel received the 2012 Award for Achievement in Public Service from the Public Interest Law Foundation of Chapman University School of Law. He received the Inn’s President’s Award from the Ferguson American Inn of Court. Justice Fybel received the Lifetime Achievement Award from his undergraduate fraternity at UCLA.
Justice Fybel co-edited with Professor M. Katherine B. Darmer the book entitled National Security, Civil Liberties, and the War on Terror published in 2011 by Prometheus Books. He is the author of a chapter in the book entitled “The Absence of Judicial Ethics: The German Legal System, 1933-1945.” In 2012, an adaptation of the chapter was published in California Litigation (the Journal of the Litigation Section of the State Bar of California). Justice Fybel spoke on this subject to the State Bar of California, the California Judges Association, The League of Women Voters—Orange County, UCI School of Law, the Chancery Club of Los Angeles, law students organized by the Public Law Center, the OCBA’s Jewish Bar Association, the American Jewish Committee, University Synagogue, the Office of Medicare Hearings and Appeals, the Cardozo Society, a symposium at Chapman University, the Ferguson Inn of Court and Soka University. He was a member of the 2010 Holocaust Program Planning Committee for “How the Courts Failed Germany,” cosponsored by the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, the University of California and the Judicial Council, and was a panel member in the program at UCI. Justice Fybel spoke at the opening of the exhibit created by the German Federal Bar entitled “Lawyers Without Rights—Jewish Lawyers in Germany Under the Third Reich” at both Southwestern and Chapman Law Schools.
Justice Fybel is the author of “A Fond Remembrance of M. Katherine B. Darmer” published in volume 16, Chapman Law Review 249 (Winter 2013). He is also the author of “Assassins In Judicial Robes” published in Gavel to Gavel, the Los Angeles Superior Court Judicial Magazine (Spring 2013), pages 30-32, 41. On the 75th Anniversary of Kristallnacht in November 2013, Justice Fybel commemorated the anniversary with a speech at an Interfaith Service of Remembrance at Chapman University.
Justice Fybel has been an Adjunct Professor at the Fowler School of Law at Chapman University, co-teaching a seminar on The Holocaust, Genocide and the Law. He is a founder of the Ruth and Ernest Fybel Endowed Fund for Literature on Children of the Holocaust, established at the Chapman University Samueli Holocaust Memorial Library.
Justice Fybel is a member of the Boards of Advisors of the Fowler School of Law and The Rodgers Center for Holocaust Education at Chapman University. He was the President of the Board of Directors of University Synagogue in Irvine from July 2010 through June 2012. He is a member of the JSerra Catholic High School Pre-Law Magnet Advisory Board
Justice Fybel was a member of the Judicial Candidate Conduct Task Force of the California Commission for Impartial Courts. He addressed the subject of judicial ethics in campaigns at a symposium on “Judicial Ethics and Accountability: At Home and Abroad” at McGeorge Law School and is a co‑author of an article on the subject published in volume 42 University of the Pacific McGeorge Law Review 135 (2010).
Justice Fybel is the author of Honest Lawyers Make Good Lawyers—Thoughts on Ethics and Civility in the Legal Profession (Nov./Dec. 2006) 19 Utah Bar J. 11. He was the commencement speaker at the graduation of the Class of 2010 at Chapman Law School. In 2011 and 2012, Justice Fybel addressed incoming law students at the University of California, Irvine School of Law on the subject of civility in the legal profession. Justice Fybel moderated a panel at UCI School of Law on the subject “Jewish and Islamic Legal Scholarship for Law School Audiences: From the Academy to the Courts.”
Justice Fybel was the President of the UCLA Law Alumni Association and an officer of the Board of Trustees of the Orange County Public Law Library. He is a member of the Boards of Directors of the OCBA Masters Division and the Association of Business Trial Lawyers, Orange County Chapter (ABTL). Justice Fybel has also served as a member of the Kleps Award Committee, honoring contributions made by California courts to the administration of justice; the UCLA Foundation Board of Councillors; a judge for the Constitutional Rights Foundation, UCLA School of Law, Chapman Law School, the statewide Traynor Moot Court Competition, the regional finals of the Jessup International Law Moot Court Competition, and the New York City Bar Association National Moot Court Competition; and a speaker in school programs sponsored by the Orange County Education Department and the OCBA.
Justice Fybel has taught classes and spoken at events sponsored by the Judicial College of the California Courts (“Making an Effective Record for Appeal”; 2010-2014); the Center for Judicial Education and Research of the Administrative Office of the Courts (The 2013 Amendments to the Code of Judicial Ethics; “Legal Ethics for Appellate Court Employees and Attorneys”; “Legal Ethics for Trial Court Research Attorneys”; “Recovery of Attorney Fees”; and “Use of Financial Documents in the Courtroom”); the California Judges Association; the State Bar of California (“Statements of Decision”); the State Bar of Utah; the American Friends of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem; the OCBA and the Los Angeles County Bar Association; the ABTL (including and moderating a program on the U.S. Department of Homeland Security; “Security & Privacy Actions: The Changing Landscape for Business Litigators”; “Practice Before the Court of Appeal”); the Los Angeles Superior Court (The 2013 Amendments to the Code of Judicial Ethics); Pincus Professional Education (“State Appeals”); the Rutter Group (“Summary Judgment and Other Terminating Motions”); the Business Litigation, Appellate, and Labor and Employment Law Sections of the OCBA; the Orange County Trial Lawyers Association; the Ferguson Inn of Court; and the Constitutional Rights Foundation.
Before his judicial appointment, Justice Fybel was a partner in the law firm of Morrison & Foerster LLP. Justice Fybel specialized in civil business litigation.