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Governor Newsom Announces Judicial Appointments 5.3.24

SACRAMENTO – Governor Gavin Newsom today announced his appointment of 18 Superior Court Judges, which include one in Alameda County; one in Contra Costa County; one in Fresno County; one in Kern County; two in Los Angeles County; one in Marin County; one in Merced County; one in Nevada County; one in Orange County; three in Sacramento County; one in San Bernardino County; two in San Diego County; one in Ventura County; and one in Yolo County.

Alameda County Superior Court

Michael Risher, of Alameda County, has been appointed to serve as a Judge in the Alameda County Superior Court. Risher has been a Sole Practitioner and Of Counsel at the American Civil Liberties Union Foundation of Northern California since 2018. He was a Senior Staff Attorney at the American Civil Liberties Union Foundation of Northern California from 2013 to 2018 and a Staff Attorney there from 2006 to 2013. Risher was a Lecturer in Law at Stanford Law School in 2023 and in 2015. He served as a Deputy Public Defender at the Alameda County Public Defender’s Office from 1998 to 2005. Risher was a Legal Affairs Advisor for the Lindesmith Center from 1997 to 1998 and served as a Law Clerk for the Honorable Karen Nelson Moore at the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit from 1996 to 1997. Risher earned a Juris Doctor degree from Stanford Law School. He fills the vacancy created by the retirement of Judge Robert McGuiness. Risher is a Democrat.

Contra Costa County Superior Court

Stephanie Clarke, of Contra Costa County, has been appointed to serve as a Judge in the Contra Costa County Superior Court. Clarke has been a Staff Attorney at the First District Appellate Project since 2003. She was an Adjunct Professor of Law and Lecturer in Law at the University of California College of the Law, San Francisco from 1994 to 2022. Clarke served as a Deputy State Public Defender in the Office of the State Public Defender from 1998 to 2003. She was a Staff Attorney for the First District Appellate Project from 1991 to 1998 and a Contract Attorney for the Law Office of Cesari, Werner and Moriarty in 1991. Clarke was an Associate at Bledsoe, Cathcart, Leahy, Starr and Diestel from 1989 to 1991 and served as a Deputy State Public Defender at the Connecticut Office of the State Public Defender from 1987 to 1989. She was a Lecturer in Law at the University of Connecticut School of Law in 1988. Clarke earned a Juris Doctor degree from the University of Connecticut School of Law. She fills the vacancy created by the retirement of Judge Jill Fannin. Clarke is registered without party preference.

Fresno County Superior Court

Raj Singh Badhesha, of Fresno County, has been appointed to serve as a Judge in the Fresno County Superior Court. Badhesha has served as Chief Assistant City Attorney in the Fresno City Attorney’s Office since 2022 and has served in several roles there since 2012. He was an Associate at Baker Manock & Jensen from 2008 to 2012. Badhesha earned a Juris Doctor degree from the University of California College of the Law, San Francisco. He fills the vacancy created by the retirement of Judge Jon N. Kapetan. Badhesha is a Democrat.

Kern County Superior Court

Donald Griffith, of Kern County, has been appointed to serve in an interim appointment as a Judge in the Kern County Superior Court. Griffith has served as a Commissioner at the Kern County Superior Court since 2022. He was a Sole Practitioner from 1995 to 2021. Griffith was an Associate at the Law Office of Anthony C. Caronna from 1994 to 1995 and at McLaughlin, Burford & Arias from 1993 to 1994. He earned a Juris Doctor degree from California Southern Law School. Griffith fills the vacancy created by the retirement of Judge Stephen Schuett. The Governor’s appointment allows him to immediately assume the position he was otherwise elected to begin in January 2025. Griffith is a Republican.

Los Angeles County Superior Court

Victor Avila, of Los Angeles County, has been appointed to serve in an interim appointment as a Judge in the Los Angeles County Superior Court. Avila has been a Senior Deputy District Attorney in the Major Crimes Division of the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office since 2012 and has served the Office in several other roles since 1999. He served as a Deputy District Attorney at the Ventura County District Attorney’s Office from 1997 to 1999. Avila earned a Juris Doctor degree from Boston College Law School. He fills the vacancy created by the retirement of Judge Malcolm H. Mackey. The Governor’s appointment allows him to immediately assume the position he was otherwise elected to begin in January 2025. Avila is a Democrat.

Allison Westfahl Kong, of Los Angeles County, has been appointed to serve as a Judge in the Los Angeles County Superior Court. Westfahl Kong has served as Chief of Ethics and Post-Conviction Review at the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Central District of California since 2023 and has served in several roles as an Assistant U.S. Attorney there since 2012. She served as a Trial Attorney at the U.S. Department of Justice, Fraud Section from 2016 to 2017. Westfahl Kong served as a Law Clerk for the Honorable Robert A. Katzmann at the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit from 2011 to 2012 and for the Honorable Jed S. Rakoff at the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York from 2010 to 2011. She earned a Juris Doctor degree from the New York University School of Law. She fills the vacancy created by the retirement of Judge Zaven V. Sinanian. Westfahl Kong is a Democrat.

Marin County Superior Court

Ahtossa Fullerton, of Marin County, has been appointed to serve as a Judge in the Marin County Superior Court. Fullerton has been a Partner at Wasacz Hilley & Fullerton LLP since 2010. She was a Sole Practitioner from 2005 to 2009. Fullerton was an Associate at Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe LLP from 2000 to 2003 and at Lanahan & Reilley LLP from 1998 to 2000. Fullerton earned a Juris Doctor degree from the Santa Clara University School of Law and a Master of Business Administration degree from the Santa Clara University School of Business. She fills the vacancy created by the retirement of Judge Beverly Wood. Fullerton is a Democrat.

Merced County Superior Court

Mason Brawley, of Merced County, has been appointed to serve as a Judge in the Merced County Superior Court. Brawley has been a Sole Practitioner since 2023. He was a Partner at Murphy & Brawley LLP from 2014 to 2022. Brawley was an Associate at Berliner Cohen from 2013 to 2014 and at Temmerman, Cilley & Kohlmann LLP from 2007 to 2013. He was an External Auditor for Ernst & Young LLP from 2001 to 2004 and has been a licensed Certified Public Accountant since 2004. Brawley earned a Juris Doctor degree from Santa Clara University School of Law. He fills the vacancy created by the retirement of Judge David W. Moranda. Brawley is registered without party preference.

Nevada County Superior Court

Courtney Abril, of Nevada County, has been appointed to serve as a Judge in the Nevada County Superior Court. Abril has been a Sole Practitioner since 2019. She served in several roles at the Yuba County Counsel’s Office from 2016 to 2019, including Chief Deputy County Counsel and County Counsel. Abril served as an Attorney in the Nevada County Public Defender’s Office from 2006 to 2016 and as a Legal Research Assistant in the Sacramento County Public Defender’s Office from 2005 to 2006. Abril earned a Juris Doctor degree from Gonzaga University School of Law. She fills the vacancy created by the retirement of Judge Linda J. Sloven. Abril is a Democrat.

Orange County Superior Court

Eileen Solis, of Orange County, has been appointed to serve as a Judge in the Orange County Superior Court. Solis has served as a Commissioner at the Orange County Superior Court since 2022. She was a Sole Practitioner from 2021 to 2022 and an Attorney at Amezcua-Moll & Associates PC from 2018 to 2021. Solis was an Attorney and Partner at Brown & Charbonneau LLP from 2005 to 2018 and at Currier & Solis from 2000 to 2005. She served as a Staff Attorney at Orange County Employees Retirement System from 1999 to 2000 and was an Associate at the Law Offices of Ronald B. Schwartz from 1990 to 1999. Solis earned a Juris Doctor degree from the Western State College of Law. She fills the vacancy created by the retirement of Judge Matthew S. Anderson. Solis is registered without party preference.

Sacramento County Superior Court

Jaya Badiga, of Sacramento County, has been appointed to serve as a Judge in the Sacramento County Superior Court. Badiga has served as a Commissioner at the Sacramento County Superior Court since 2022. She was a Sole Practitioner from 2018 to 2022. She served as an Attorney at the California Department of Health Care Services in 2020 and at California Governor’s Office of Emergency Services in 2018. Badiga was Managing Attorney at WEAVE Inc. from 2013 to 2018 and Attorney Advisor at Galaxy Architects & Infrastructure from 2010 to 2013. She served as Staff Counsel at the California Employment Development Department from 2009 to 2010. Badiga earned a Juris Doctor degree from the Santa Clara University School of Law and a Master of Arts degree in International Relations and International Communications from Boston University. She fills the vacancy created by the retirement of Judge Robert S. Lapham. Badiga is a Democrat.

Amy Holliday, of Sacramento County, has been appointed to serve in an interim appointment as a Judge in the Sacramento County Superior Court. Holliday has been an Assistant Chief Deputy in the Sacramento County District Attorney’s Office since 2020 and has served in several roles there since 2002, including Supervising Deputy District Attorney. She was an Associate at Riggio, Mordaunt & Kelly from 2001 to 2002 and at Diehl, Steinheimer, Riggio, Haydel and Mordaunt from 1999 to 2000. Holliday was an Associate at the Law Offices of Patrick D. Riddle from 1998 to 1999. Holliday earned a Juris Doctor degree from the University of the Pacific, McGeorge School of Law. She fills the vacancy created by the retirement of Judge Allen H. Sumner. The Governor’s appointment allows her to immediately assume the position she was otherwise elected to begin in January 2025. Holliday is a Democrat.

Allison Zuvela, of Sacramento County, has been appointed to serve as a Judge in the Sacramento County Superior Court. Zuvela has served as a Retired Annuitant Deputy Public Defender at the Yolo County Public Defender’s Office since 2023 and served in several positions there from 2003 to 2021, including Chief Deputy Public Defender and Assistant Chief Deputy Public Defender. She served as a Deputy Public Defender in the Tulare County Public Defender’s Office from 1995 to 2003. Zuvela earned a Juris Doctor degree from California Western School of Law. She fills the vacancy created by the retirement of Judge Sharon A. Lueras. Zuvela is a Democrat.

San Bernardino County Superior Court

Kathleen Curtis, of San Bernardino County, has been appointed to serve as a Judge in the San Bernardino County Superior Court. Curtis has served as a Deputy District Attorney at the San Bernardino County District Attorney’s Office since 2012. She earned a Juris Doctor degree from the American University, Washington College of Law and a Master of Public Administration degree from California State University, San Bernardino. She fills the vacancy created by the retirement of Judge Lorenzo R. Balderrama. Curtis is a Democrat.

San Diego County Superior Court

Toni Dean Segura, of San Diego County, has been appointed to serve as a Judge in the San Diego County Superior Court. Segura has served as a Commissioner at the San Diego County Superior Court since 2023. She served as a Deputy Public Defender at the San Diego County Primary Public Defender’s Office from 2017 to 2023. Segura was an Associate at Skaja, Daniels, Lister & Permito LLP from 2014 to 2017 and was a Sole Practitioner from 2004 to 2007. She served as a Deputy Public Defender at the San Diego County Primary Public Defender’s Office from 1996 to 2001. Segura earned a Juris Doctor degree from California Western School of Law. She fills the vacancy created by the retirement of Judge Desiree A. Bruce-Lyle. Segura is registered without party preference.

Blair Soper, of San Diego County, has been appointed to serve as a Judge in the San Diego County Superior Court. Soper has served as a Deputy Public Defender at the San Diego County Public Defender’s Office since 2006. He earned a Juris Doctor degree from the University of San Diego School of Law. Soper fills the vacancy created by the retirement of Judge Peter L. Gallagher. He is a Democrat.

Ventura County Superior Court

Ethel Hernandez, of Ventura County, has been appointed to serve as a Judge in the Ventura County Superior Court. Hernandez has served as a Senior Deputy District Attorney at the Ventura County District Attorney’s Office since 2012. She served as a Deputy District Attorney Pro Tem at the Santa Barbara County District Attorney’s Office in 2011 and was a Law Clerk there in 2010. Hernandez served as a Law Clerk at the Ventura County District Attorney’s Office in 2010. She earned a Juris Doctor degree from the Thurgood Marshall School of Law and a Master of Law degree from Lamar University. She fills the vacancy created by the retirement of Judge Bruce A. Young. Hernandez is a Democrat.

Yolo County Superior Court

Clara Levers, of Yolo County, has been appointed to serve in an interim appointment as a Judge in the Yolo County Superior Court. Levers has served as a Deputy Attorney General at the California Department of Justice, Office of the Attorney General since 2008. She was an Associate at Murphy Pearson Bradley & Feeney from 2006 to 2008 and at the Law Offices of Johnny Griffin from 2003 to 2006. Levers earned a Juris Doctor degree from the University of California, Davis School of Law. She fills the vacancy created by the retirement of Judge David Rosenberg. The Governor’s appointment allows her to immediately assume the position she was otherwise elected to begin in January 2025. Levers is a Democrat.

The compensation for each of these positions is $238,479.

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