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Dennis E. Wagner Esq.

Managing Partner

Riverside, California
(951) 686-4800
(951) 686-4801

I have been practicing law since 1981. I have extensive experience in a wide range of legal areas. I have represented public entities and public employees since 1987. While working for the law firm of Roberts & Morgan I represented the City of Riverside, County of Riverside, State of California and City of Corona in addition to insurance defense work for Aetna, Farmers and other major insurance companies.

Thereafter, I served as a Sr. Deputy County Counsel for the County of San Bernardino starting in 1994. For ten years I worked in the Risk Management Department and tried numerous cases in the state and federal courts on behalf of elected officials, department heads and public employees.

In 2004, I left the Office of County Counsel for San Bernardino and went into private practice with Tristan G. Pelayes and we formed the law firm of Wagner & Pelayes, LLP. During this time, our law firm continued to represent public entity clients including the County of San Bernardino, City of Beaumont, State of California, City of San Bernardino, County of Orange, in addition to Judges and Superior Court employees for the Administrative Office of the Courts. In 2006, I went back as Interim County Counsel for the County of San Bernardino and ran an office of 100 employees while I conducted a search for a successor County Counsel. Upon my return to private practice, I continued to try lawsuits. I have tried many jury cases and I have regularly appeared before the State Appellate Courts, Ninth Circuit and California Supreme Court.

I am a member of the American Board of Trial Advocates (ABOTA) and was a Board Member of the Federal Bar Association, Inland Empire Chapter, for ten years. I served as President of the Inland Empire Chapter in 2011. I handle lawsuits in San Bernardino, Riverside, Los Angeles and Orange Counties and the federal district courts for the Central District of California for the Southern, Eastern and Western Districts. I have served on a screening panel for the selection of Bankruptcy Judges for the Central District. I am AV rated by Martindale Hubbell and have tried approximately 50 jury trials to verdict. I have taught civil liabilities to deputy sheriffs and management for the County of San Bernardino Sheriff’s Department at the Sherriff’s Academy for many years. I have participated in seminars on various legal topics. I serve as a mediator for the Central District of California and engage in private mediations upon request.

My philosophy for our legal practice is to provide value and options to clients. Zealous advocacy is a must, but done so in a cost-effective fashion for our clients. Ethics and civility are not just words but epitomize what our attorneys provide to our clients. Effective strategy and cost analysis is the roadmap to achieve a successful conclusion in the practice of law. My practice area is limited to civil litigation, business litigation and personal injury for plaintiffs and defendants.

Areas of Practice

  • Trials and Appellate Practice
  • Police Civil Rights Defense
  • Business Law
  • Employment Law
  • Real Estate
  • Insurance Defense
  • Personal Injury
  • Municipal Liabilities Defense

Bar Admissions

  • U.S. District Court Southern District of California, 1981
  • U.S. District Court Central District of California, 1981
  • U.S. District Court Northern District of California, 1981
  • California, 1981
  • Nevada, 1983
  • Texas, 1985
  • U.S. Court of Appeals 9th Circuit, 1982
  • U.S. Court of Appeals 5th Circuit, 2010
  • U.S. Supreme Court, 2011
  • U.S. Court of Appeals 7th Circuit, 2011


  • California Western School of Law, San Diego, California
    • J.D. – 1981
  • Western Michigan University, Kalamazoo, MI, USA
    • B.A. – 1977
    • Major: Criminal Justice


  • Active Instructor – Civil Liabilities, San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Department, 1997 – Present
  • Various Topics, San Bernardino Community College District, 1997 – Present

Honors and Awards

  • County Counsel Association, 2001 – 2002
  • American Board of Trial Advocates (ABOTA), Associate, 2002

Professional Associations and Memberships

  • San Bernardino County Bar Association
  • Inland Empire Federal Bar Association, Board Member, 2000 – Present
  • American Board of Trial Advocates (ABOTA) (Advocate)
  • California Council of School Attorneys
  • California School Board Association
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