By Clark Gerhartsreiter
On August 10, California Gov. Gavin Newsom, in a historic move, nominated Patricia Guerrero to be the first Latina chief justice of the California Supreme Court.
Guerrero, 50, would replace Chief Justice Tani Cantil-Sakauye for a term of 12 years once Cantil-Sakauye steps down in January, according to The Associated Press.
A Wikipedia entry about Guerrero said that she enjoyed a fast-track career. From 2002 to 2003, she worked as a federal prosecutor in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of California. She then joined the Los Angeles law firm Latham & Watkins, rising from associate to partner in 2006.
In May 2013, Guerrero served as a judge on the San Diego County Superior Court, nominated by then-governor Jerry Brown, and she served as supervising judge for the court’s family law division in 2017. Later that same year, she served as Associate Justice of the California Courts of Appeal for the Fourth District, also nominated by then-governor Brown. Guerrero also performed pro-bono work as a member of the Immigration Justice Project advisory board.
In March 2022, Gov. Newsom nominated Guerrero to replace Mariano-Florentino Cuéllar as Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of California, the Wikipedia page said. The commission approved her unanimously. Then Newsom nominated her for Chief Justice.
In a news release, Gov. Newsom said, “Justice Guerrero has established herself as a widely respected jurist with a formidable intellect and command of the law and deep commitment to equal justice and public service.”
The AP article said that California judges do not need confirmation by the legislature but require a vote by the Commission on Judicial Appointments; after that, her appointment will be a matter for voters to decide in the November election.
Raised in California, Guerrero’s parents both came from Mexico. She grew up in the Imperial Valley and worked in a grocery store at age 16. She graduated co-valedictorian from the University of California, Berkeley, in 1994, and received her Juris Doctor degree from Stanford Law School in 1997, Wikipedia said.
According to the AP article, as chief justice, Guerrero would lead the nation’s largest judicial system of 2,175 judges across 58 trial courts and 105 justices of the Courts of Appeals. David Ettinger, an appellate lawyer who blogs about the California Supreme Court, called Guerrero “qualified as the judicial branch’s chief executive,” the AP article said.