Governor Newsom Launches California Judicial Mentor Program to Promote a Diverse and Inclusive Judiciary  

SACRAMENTO – Governor Gavin Newsom today announced the California Judicial Mentor Program, a statewide undertaking between the executive and judicial branches to advance the shared goal of an inclusive judiciary that reflects California’s diversity. Comprised of an Appellate Court Mentor Program and a Trial Court Mentor Program, the initiative aims to demystify the appellate and trial court application process and improve transparency and accessibility for all members of the legal community throughout California, fostering the development of a qualified and diverse judicial applicant pool.

“Our state’s remarkable diversity is a point of pride and strength that I am committed to advancing at every level of state government,” said Governor Newsom. “This mentor program supports our efforts to identify the best and brightest judicial candidates from throughout the state, contributing to a stronger, more inclusive bench to better serve all Californians.”

The California Judicial Mentor Program Executive Committee consists of Judicial Appointments Secretary Luis Cespedes, Chair Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Paul A. Bacigalupo and co-chairs representing the appellate and trial courts. On behalf of the appellate courts, the Executive Committee is co-chaired by California Supreme Court Associate Justice Martin Jenkins, Second District Court of Appeal Presiding Justice Lee Smalley Edmon and First District Court of Appeal Associate Justice Teri L. Jackson. On behalf of the trial courts, Santa Clara Superior Court Judge Erica Yew represents medium and large counties and Tehama Superior Court Judge C. Todd Bottke represents small and rural counties.

The program co-chairs will utilize working groups of justices and judges to communicate across sectors of the legal community to support and encourage lawyers and judges considering service on the appellate and trial courts. The program will work to identify and provide judicial mentors for these individuals and deploy informational resources and toolkits about the judicial appointment process. Participation in the program is not a guarantee of an appointment nor a prerequisite in the application process.

“This program will foster transparency and accessibility to all members of the legal community in our great state who wish to serve as judicial officers,” said Judge Bacigalupo, Executive Committee Chair. “In making justices and judges accessible to prospective judicial applicants, we hope to demystify the application process and recruit a wide array of qualified candidates to serve our courts and administer justice fairly, equitably and honorably.”

The Appellate Court Mentor Program has initiated a pilot in the First District Court of Appeal with the goal of implementing the program statewide. The Trial Court Mentor Program has been implemented in various counties – including Los Angeles, Orange, San Diego, Fresno, Alameda, Santa Clara, San Francisco and Tulare – as well as regional collaborations between the counties of San Joaquin, Stanislaus, Tuolumne and Calaveras; Napa and Solano; San Bernardino, Riverside and Imperial; Ventura, Santa Barbara and San Luis Obispo; and Sacramento, Yolo and El Dorado.

“I’m pleased to be a part of this program,” said Executive Committee Co-Chair Associate Justice Martin Jenkins, who previously served as Governor Newsom’s Judicial Appointments Secretary. “I look forward to working with Secretary Cespedes and the other outstanding members of the Executive Committee to build a mentor program throughout our great state to meet the Governor’s goal of diversity, equity and inclusion in our judiciary.

“I’m very pleased that the First District Court of Appeal will serve as the appellate court pilot program with the goal of implementing the Appellate Court Mentor Program statewide,” said First District Court of Appeal Administrative Presiding Justice Jim Humes. “We plan to conduct outreach events and provide mentors for those interested in an appellate court appointment.”

Moving to increase transparency in the judicial nomination process, Governor Newsom in 2019 made public the state’s eight Judicial Selection Advisory Committees comprised of attorneys and judges who live and work in regions across the state. For the first time in California history, the individuals who provide important feedback on judicial candidates for nomination and appointment are known to the public.

The following judges are members of the Trial Court Mentor Program Working Group:

  • Judge Ana de Alba – Fresno County Superior Court
  • Presiding Judge Eric Taylor – Los Angeles County Superior Court
  • Judge Helen Zukin – Los Angeles County Superior Court
  • Judge Monique Langhorne – Napa County Superior Court
  • Judge Elizabeth Macias – Orange County Superior Court
  • Judge Raquel Marquez – Riverside County Superior Court
  • Judge Shama Mesiwala – Sacramento County Superior Court
  • Judge Roderick Shelton – San Diego County Superior Court
  • Judge Russell Roeca – San Francisco County Superior Court
  • Judge Barbara Kronlund – San Joaquin County Superior Court