Jim Gray
Personal details
James Polin Gray

(1945-02-14) February 14, 1945 (age 76)
Washington, D.C., U.S.
Political partyRepublican (Before 1998)
Libertarian (1998–present)
EducationUniversity of California, Los
University of Southern
WebsiteOfficial website

James Polin Gray (born February 14, 1945) is an American jurist and writer. He was the presiding judge of the Superior Court of Orange County, California. Gray was the 2012 Libertarian Party vice presidential nominee, as well as the party's 2004 candidate for the United States Senate in California. He is the author of multiple books and a play, and is an outspoken critic of American drug laws.

Gray has been a member of the California Judicial Council, as well as the California Judicial Council's Advisory Committee on Juvenile Law, the Alcohol Advisory Board to the Orange County Board of Supervisors, the Advisory Board of the California Department of Alcohol and Drug Programs, and the Orange County Law Library. He has also been a member of the Board of Councilors of the USC Law School. Gray also introduced Orange County to the Peer Court system, where juvenile defendants travel to a school outside their district to have their actual cases tried by other teenagers.[1] In 2012, Gray was nominated by Libertarian Party convention delegates as the running mate of former New Mexico Governor Gary Johnson.

He unsuccessfully sought the Libertarian nomination for President of the United States in the 2020 election.


Born in Washington, D.C.[2] and raised in the Los Angeles, California area, Gray earned his undergraduate degree from the University of California, Los Angeles in 1966, after which he taught in the Peace Corps in Costa Rica.[3][4] Gray returned to California and earned a J.D. degree from the University of Southern California Law School in 1971.[4]

Judicial career

From 1972 through 1975, Gray practiced law with the Judge Advocate General's Corps of the U.S. Navy in Guam and California.[4]

After five years in private practice, he was named to the Santa Ana Municipal Court in 1983 by Governor George Deukmejian, who then appointed Gray to the Orange County Superior Court in 1989.[5] Gray retired as a judge in January 2009.[5] Much of his legal career has dealt with drug-related issues.[3]

2004 U.S. Senate candidacy

Main article: United States Senate election in California, 2004

Following an unsuccessful bid in 1998 for the Republican nomination for the congressional seat in California's 46th congressional district,[3][6] Gray left the Republican Party and joined the Libertarian Party. In 2003, he openly considered making a run for the 2004 Libertarian presidential nomination, but eventually decided to instead run for the U.S. Senate.[7] In November 2003, he declared his candidacy for the U.S. Senate seat occupied by Barbara Boxer in California.[8] Gray was a keynote speaker at the 2004 Libertarian National Convention.[9] In March 2004 Gray defeated former Libertarian Party of California chair Gail Lightfoot in a statewide primary for the party's nomination for U.S. Senate.[10] Gray suspended his judicial activities while running for the Senate against incumbent Democratic Senator Barbara Boxer and Republican Bill Jones. Gray received 216,522 votes, 1.8% of the total vote, finishing behind Boxer, Jones, and Peace and Freedom Party candidate Marsha Feinland.[11]

Activism as War on Drugs opponent

Gray is an outspoken critic of drug laws and the War on Drugs,[12][13] particularly in the state of California.[14][15][16] He was a proponent of the Regulate, Control and Tax Cannabis Act of 2010,[17] a statewide referendum measure that was defeated in the 2010 California state elections.

He is the author of Why Our Drug Laws Have Failed and What We Can Do About It – A Judicial Indictment of the War on Drugs (2001), and appears in the 2007 documentary American Drug War: The Last White Hope.

In early 2011 Gray was one of the four co-sponsors of an initiative called Regulate Marijuana Like Wine.[18][19] Had it passed, the initiative would have regulated cannabis consumption and production like wine in California. While the measure failed to collect the minimum number of signatures needed for qualification to be placed on the ballot in the 2012 statewide election, Gray's active role in the effort prompted media speculation regarding his future in the Libertarian Party and in national politics.[19]

2012 vice-presidential candidacy

See also: Gary Johnson 2012 presidential campaign

On April 27, 2012, the question "What would you think of Judge Gray running for Vice President?" was posted from Gray's Facebook page, and received numerous positive responses.[20] Within three days of the posting, it was confirmed that Gray had been chosen by 2012 Libertarian presidential candidate Gary Johnson to be his preferred running mate should Johnson receive the party's nomination at the 2012 Libertarian National Convention.[21] Gray then confirmed his candidacy for the Libertarian vice-presidential nomination in an open letter to the party's Convention delegates.[22] On May 5, 2012, Gray won the Libertarian Party (LP) vice-presidential nomination on the first ballot with 60% of the vote.[23][24] He ran on the ticket with Johnson, who received the LP presidential nomination.[24]

2020 presidential campaign

On April 13, 2020, Gray announced his intention to seek the Libertarian Party's nomination for president with Larry Sharpe as his running mate. The announcement came in response to Lincoln Chafee exiting the race.[25] He dropped out on May 23, 2020.


Gray resides in Newport Beach, California. He is married, and is the father of children William, Jennifer, and Ky.[4]






  1. ^ Judicial experience of Judge Jim Gray. 2012, JudgeJimGray.com. Retrieved 23 May 2012.
  2. ^ "Interview: LP Veep nominee Jim Gray," Bearing Drift [audio interview] September 24, 2012; accessed September 26, 2012.
  3. ^ a b c "CA LP: 'Exceptional Line-up of Speakers Planned for CA Libertarian Convention 2012′". Independent Political Report. February 1, 2012. Retrieved May 1, 2012.
  4. ^ a b c d "About – Judge James P. Gray". www.judgejimgray.com. Retrieved May 1, 2012.
  5. ^ a b "Press Release: Libertarian Party congratulates Judge Jim Gray on retirement". LP. org. January 29, 2009. Retrieved May 1, 2012.
  6. ^ "Poll Track: 1998 HOUSE RACES California's 46th District". National Journal.com. 1998. Archived from the original on September 11, 2015. Retrieved May 1, 2012.
  7. ^ Breidenbach, Michelle (May 17, 2003). "Calif. judge makes a plea for drug reform". The Post Standard via HighBeam Research (subscription required). Archived from the original on January 25, 2013. Retrieved May 1, 2012.
  8. ^ "Orange County Judge Begins Uphill Battle for U.S. Senate Seat; James Gray, a longtime advocate of legalizing drugs, will challenge Barbara Boxer in 2004". Los Angeles Times. November 20, 2003. Retrieved May 1, 2012.
  9. ^ "Best Cannabis Warrior – 2010: James Gray". OC Weekly. 2010. Retrieved May 1, 2012.
  10. ^ "CALIFORNIA ELECTIONS March 04, 2004: U.S. Senate". Los Angeles Times. March 4, 2004. Retrieved May 1, 2012.
  11. ^ Statistics of the Presidential AND Congressional Election of November 2, 2004:California, www.clerk.house.gov.
  12. ^ "California Republican judge joins call for drug debate". Kingman Daily Miner. Associated Press. November 15, 1999. Retrieved May 2, 2012.
  13. ^ Welchand, William M.; Leinwand, Donna (March 9, 2010). "State actions on legalizing marijuana". USA Today. Retrieved May 1, 2012.
  14. ^ "Judge presses legality of drugs". Press-Courier. Associated Press. October 4, 1992. Retrieved May 1, 2012.
  15. ^ Statman, Alison (March 13, 2009). "Can Marijuana Help Rescue California's Economy?". TIME. Archived from the original on March 13, 2009. Retrieved May 1, 2012.
  16. ^ Braiker, Brian (April 5, 2012). "California: Odd Bedfellows in the Pro-Pot Ballot Initiative". ABC News. Retrieved May 1, 2012.
  17. ^ Paddock, Richard C. (March 25, 2010). "California Puts Legalizing Marijuana on Ballot". AOL News. Archived from the original on August 22, 2011. Retrieved May 1, 2012. I've been on the front lines of the drug war for three decades, and I know from experience that the current approach is simply not working," said retired Superior Court Judge James P. Gray. "Controlling marijuana with regulations similar to those currently in place for alcohol will put street drug dealers and organized crime out of business.
  18. ^ Gray, James P. (October 14, 2011). "Going backward in drug war". The Orange County Register. Retrieved May 1, 2012.
  19. ^ a b "Marijuana legalization fails to qualify". Redwood Times. April 17, 2012. Retrieved May 1, 2012.
  20. ^ Quinn, Garrett (April 29, 2012). "Judge Jim Gray Floats VP Run With Gary Johnson". Reason Online. Retrieved April 30, 2012.
  21. ^ Quinn, Garrett (April 30, 2012). "Gary Johnson Wants Jim Gray As His VP". Reason Online. Retrieved April 30, 2012.
  22. ^ "Judge Gray Announces for VP, Gary Johnson Endorses". Independent Political Report. April 30, 2012. Retrieved May 1, 2012.
  23. ^ Cassidy, Austin (May 5, 2012). "Libertarians Nominate Judge Jim Gray for Vice-President". Uncovered Politics. Retrieved May 6, 2012.
  24. ^ a b Riggs, Mike (May 5, 2012). "Judge Jim Gray Is the 2012 Libertarian Party Vice Presidential Nominee". Reason Online. Retrieved May 6, 2012.
  25. ^ Welch, Matt (April 13, 2020). "Judge Jim Gray To Seek Libertarian Presidential Nomination". Reason. Retrieved April 13, 2020.
Party political offices
Preceded by
Wayne Allyn Root
Libertarian nominee for Vice President of the United States
Succeeded by
Bill Weld