Humboldt County Superior Court Presiding Judge Gregory J. Kreis. | Photos by Andrew Goff.


After delivering his re-election campaign speech on the spiral ramp of Eureka’s Old Town gazebo this afternoon, Humboldt County Superior Court Judge Gregory J. Kreis told the Outpost that a high-profile lawsuit filed against him in 2020 by former Deputy Public Defender Rory Kalin has been settled out of court.

“It is going to be dismissed with prejudice because there’s, frankly, there was no evidence that I ever said what he said I said,” Kreis told the Outpost.

Kalin’s suit, which is being adjudicated by a Mendocino County judge, accused Kreis of verbally and physically assaulting him during a Memorial Day celebration at Shasta Lake in 2019. Specifically, Kalin alleged that during an attorney-filled houseboat party, a drunken Kreis repeatedly called Kalin “Jew-boy” before throwing him overboard.

Kalin also filed suit against the County of Humboldt, former Public Defender Marek Reavis and current Public Defender Luke Brownfield, alleging that he faced retaliation, demotion and ultimately termination from the office for speaking out about what allegedly happened.

The case against Kreis has dragged on for the better part of four years, and as recently as last week the opposing attorneys in the case were arguing over whether a jury trial was warranted, according to a Dec. 8 story from Times-Standard reporter Jackson Guilfoil.

“It’s been a long road,” Kreis said. “[Kalin] made false allegations against me as far as the antisemitic stuff. So I think the insurance companies decided it will be done, and they offered him — I don’t know what what the final settlement was. … And in the future, here, I will be releasing all the witness statements that say [the alleged events] never happened.”

A message left for Kalin’s L.A.-based attorney, Johnny Rundell, was not immediately returned.

Appointed to the bench in 2017 by former Gov. Jerry Brown, Kreis is facing his first challenge at the ballot box this election season as attorney April Van Dyke, a former deputy public defender in both Humboldt and San Joaquin counties, seeks to unseat him

Asked what makes him a better choice to wear the judge’s robes, Kreis cited his six years’ experience on the bench, practicing “in every area” of law, his familiarity with the community and the respect he’s earned among attorneys.

Prior to his appointment, he said, he submitted more than 100 references to the Commission on Judicial Nominees Evaluation (JNE) and the feedback was 100 percent positive. 

“My JNE commissioners that I worked with told me that that’s very rare,” Kreis said. “Usually you get a couple people that are like, ‘I hate that guy’ for whatever reason. … That just shows that I would never say the things that Rory Kalin said [I did]. If I did, somebody would have said, ‘This guy’s trouble.’”

Below is a lightly edited video of Kreis’s campaign speech. If there are any questions you’d like to pose to Kreis, Van Dyke or any other Humboldt County candidates in contested races this primary election, head on over to our LoCO Elections page, where you can submit your queries directly.