Governor Brown Appoints 33 Superior Court Judges


12-22-2017

SACRAMENTO - Governor Edmund G. Brown Jr. today announced the appointment of 33 California superior court judges, which include: One in Alameda County; one in Butte County; one in Contra Costa County; one in Humboldt County; one in Kings County; one in Lake County; one in Lassen County; six in Los Angeles County; one in Monterey County; two in Napa County; two in Orange County; one in Riverside County; three in Sacramento County; two in San Bernardino County; one in San Diego County; one in San Francisco County; one in San Luis Obispo County; one in San Mateo County; two in Santa Clara County; one in Solano County; one in Stanislaus County; and one in Ventura County.

Alameda County Superior Court

Victor A. Rodriguez, 42, of Oakland, has been appointed to a judgeship in the Alameda County Superior Court. Rodriguez has served as supervising staff attorney for the Honorable Mariano-Florentino Cuéllar at the California Supreme Court since 2015, where he served as judicial staff attorney for the Honorable Carlos R. Moreno, Goodwin H. Liu and Carol A. Corrigan from 2006 to 2015. He served as a law clerk for the Honorable Consuelo B. Marshall at the U.S. District Court, Central District of California from 2005 to 2006. Rodriguez was a Skadden fellow at the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund from 2003 to 2005. He earned a Juris Doctor degree from the University of California, Berkeley School of Law, a Master of Arts degree from California State University, Long Beach and a Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of Southern California. Effective January 26, 2018, Rodriguez will fill the vacancy created by the retirement of Judge Keith H. Fudenna. Rodriguez is a Democrat.

Butte County Superior Court

Jesus A. Rodriguez, 38, of Chico, has been appointed to a judgeship in the Butte County Superior Court. Rodriguez has been a sole practitioner since 2007. He was an associate at the Law Offices of Dane A. Cameron from 2004 to 2007. Rodriguez earned a Juris Doctor degree from the University of California, Hastings College of the Law and a Bachelor of Arts degree from California State University, Chico. Effective January 28, 2018, Rodriguez will fill the vacancy created by the retirement of Judge James F. Reilley. Rodriguez is a Democrat.

Contra Costa County Superior Court

Virginia M. George, 58, of Martinez, has been appointed to a judgeship in the Contra Costa County Superior Court. George has been a partner at George, Schofield, McCormick LLP since 2011. She served as a temporary judge for Probate Court at the Contra Costa County Superior Court from 2010 to 2011. George was a professor of law and supervising attorney of the Elder Law Clinic at the John F. Kennedy University College of Law from 2005 to 2010 and a sole practitioner from 1999 to 2005. She served as a deputy district attorney at the Contra Costa County District Attorney's Office from 1986 to 1999, where she served as a law clerk from 1985 to 1986. She was a law clerk at Pelletreau, Moses, Larson and Alderson LLP in 1984. George earned a Juris Doctor degree from the University of San Francisco School of Law and a Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of California, Davis. She fills the vacancy created by the retirement of Judge Diana Becton. George is a Democrat.

Humboldt County Superior Court

Kelly L. Neel, 47, of McKinleyville, has been appointed to a judgeship in the Humboldt County Superior Court. Neel has served as a deputy public defender at the Humboldt County Public Defender's Office since 2015. She served as an assistant district attorney at the Humboldt County District Attorney's Office from 2011 to 2015, where she was a deputy district attorney from 2009 to 2011 and from 2007 to 2008. Neel served as a deputy county counsel at the Humboldt County Office of County Counsel from 2008 to 2009 and as a deputy district attorney at the Del Norte County District Attorney's Office from 2006 to 2007. She was an associate at Hamilton, Michaelson and Hilty LLP from 2005 to 2006 and served as deputy prosecuting attorney at the Canyon County, Idaho Prosecuting Attorney's Office from 2004 to 2005. Neel was an associate at Wiebe and Fouser from 2003 to 2004, served as an assistant public defender at the Missouri State Public Defender's Office from 2000 to 2003 and served as an attorney at the Missouri Department of Revenue from 1999 to 2000. She earned a Juris Doctor degree from the University of Missouri, School of Law and a Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of Missouri, Rolla. Effective January 30, 2018, Neel will fill the vacancy created by the retirement of Judge Timothy P. Cissna. She is a Democrat.

Kings County Superior Court

Valerie R. Chrissakis, 46, of Hanford, has been appointed to a judgeship in the Kings County Superior Court. Chrissakis has served as a staff attorney at the Kings County Superior Court since 2006. She was an associate at the Farley Law Firm from 2001 to 2006, at Quadros and Johnson from 2000 to 2001 and at Farley, Seng, DeSantos and Green LLP from 1996 to 2000. Chrissakis earned a Juris Doctor degree from the University of the Pacific, McGeorge School of Law and a Bachelor of Arts degree from Santa Clara University. She fills the vacancy created by the retirement of Judge James LaPorte. Chrissakis is registered without party preference.

Lake County Superior Court

J. David Markham, 48, of Lakeport, has been appointed to a judgeship in the Lake County Superior Court. Markham has been a sole practitioner since 2004. He was an associate at Alvord and Ewing from 2003 to 2004. Markham served as a deputy district attorney at the Lake County District Attorney's Office from 2001 to 2002. He earned a Juris Doctor degree from the Empire College School of Law and a Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of California, Davis. Markham fills the vacancy created by the retirement of Judge Richard C. Martin. He is registered without party preference.

Lassen County Superior Court

Mark R. Nareau, 61, of Susanville, has been appointed to a judgeship in the Lassen County Superior Court. Nareau has been a sole practitioner since 1992. He served as district attorney for Lassen County from 1991 to 1992. Nareau was a sole practitioner from 1988 to 1990, special prosecutor for the Lassen County Prison Prosecution Program from 1987 to 1998 and a sole practitioner from 1986 to 1987. He was a deputy district attorney at the Lassen County District Attorney's Office from 1984 to 1986 and a sole practitioner from 1981 to 1984. Nareau earned Juris Doctor and Bachelor of Laws degrees from the Western State University College of Law. He fills the vacancy created by the retirement of Judge Michele Verderosa. Nareau is registered without party preference.

Los Angeles County Superior Court

Gia G. Bosley, 53, of Los Angeles, has been appointed to a judgeship in the Los Angeles County Superior Court. Bosley has served as a deputy public defender at the Los Angeles County Public Defender's Office since 2006. She served as a deputy trial counsel at the State Bar of California from 1999 to 2002. Bosley was an attorney at John Hill and Associates in 1999 and a sole practitioner from 1992 to 1999. She was an attorney at Barry Bartholomew and Associates from 1991 to 1992, at Smith and Smith in 1991 and at Hill, Genson, Even, Crandall and Wade from 1989 to 1991. She earned a Juris Doctor degree from the Whittier College School of Law and a Bachelor of Arts degree from Howard University. Bosley fills the vacancy created by the conversion of a court commissioner position on November 17, 2016. She is registered without party preference.

Susan J. De Witt, 56, of Pasadena, has been appointed to a judgeship in the Los Angeles County Superior Court. De Witt has served as senior litigation counsel at the U.S. Attorney's Office, Central District of California since 2015, where she has been an Assistant U.S. Attorney since 1997, serving in several positions including Special Counsel to the U.S. Attorney, Acting Executive Assistant U.S. Attorney and deputy chief. She served on detail as national security coordinator, civil rights coordinator and counsel to the director at the U.S. Department of Justice, Executive Office for U.S. Attorneys from 2009 to 2012. De Witt was an associate at White and Case LLP from 1992 to 1997 and at Milbank, Tweed, Hadley and McCloy LLP from 1988 to 1991. She served as a law clerk for the Honorable John G. Davies at the U.S. District Court, Central District of California from 1987 to 1988. She earned a Juris Doctor degree from the Georgetown University Law Center and a Bachelor of Science degree from the University of California, Riverside. De Witt fills the vacancy created by the conversion of a court commissioner position on November 17, 2016. She is a Democrat.

Kristin S. Escalante, 54, of Huntington Beach, has been appointed to a judgeship in the Los Angeles County Superior Court. Escalante has been senior trial counsel at the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, Division of Enforcement since 2014. She was a partner at Manatt, Phelps and Phillips LLP from 2011 to 2014. Escalante was a partner at Munger, Tolles and Olson LLP from 2002 to 2011, where she was an associate from 1994 to 2001. She served as a law clerk for the Honorable Diarmuid O'Scannlain at the U.S. Court of Appeals, Ninth Circuit from 1992 to 1993. Escalante earned a Juris Doctor degree from the University of Southern California School of Law and a Bachelor of Architecture degree from the University of Southern California. She fills the vacancy created by the retirement of Judge Suzanne G. Bruguera. Escalante is a Democrat.

Robert S. Wada, 62, of Fullerton, has been appointed to a judgeship in the Los Angeles County Superior Court. Wada has served as a commissioner at the Los Angeles County Superior Court since 2016, where he was supervising probate attorney from 2011 to 2016, a commissioner from 2008 to 2011 and a probate attorney from 1997 to 2008. Wada was a sole practitioner from 1985 to 1997. He was an associate at the Law Office of Rick J. Fenelli from 1985 to 1997 and from 1982 to 1983. He was an associate at Aarons and Aarons Inc. from 1984 to 1985 and at F. Gordon Chytraus Inc. from 1983 to 1984. Wada earned a Juris Doctor degree from the Western State University College of Law and a Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of California, Los Angeles. He fills the vacancy created by the conversion of a court commissioner position on November 17, 2016. Wada is registered without party preference.

Gregory J. Weingart, 52, of San Marino, has been appointed to a judgeship in the Los Angeles County Superior Court. Weingart has been a partner at Munger, Tolles and Olson LLP since 2004, where he was an associate from 1992 to 1995. He served as an Assistant U.S. Attorney at the U.S. Attorney's Office, Central District of California from 1995 to 2004. He served as a law clerk for the Honorable William M. Byrne Jr. at the U.S. District Court, Central District of California from 1991 to 1992. Weingart earned a Juris Doctor degree from Harvard Law School and a Bachelor of Arts degree from Pomona College. He fills the vacancy created by the retirement of Judge Sally L. Meloch. Weingart is a Democrat.

Victoria B. Wilson, 48, of Los Angeles, has been appointed to a judgeship in the Los Angeles County Superior Court. Wilson has been a supervising deputy attorney general at the California Department of Justice, Office of the Attorney General since 2001, where she served as a deputy attorney general from 1994 to 2001. She earned a Juris Doctor degree from the University of Southern California School of Law and a Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of California, Los Angeles. Wilson fills the vacancy created by the retirement of Judge Steven R. Van Sicklen. She is registered without party preference.

Monterey County Superior Court


Rafael Vazquez, 42, of Salinas, has been appointed to a judgeship in the Monterey County Superior Court. Vazquez has served as an assistant district attorney at the Santa Cruz County District Attorney's Office since 2010. He was an associate at Kazan, McClain, Abrams, Lyons, Harley and Greenwood PLC from 2008 to 2009 and at Abramson, Church and Stave LLP from 2007 to 2008. Vazquez served as a deputy district attorney at the Alameda County District Attorney's Office from 2004 to 2007. He earned a Juris Doctor degree from the University of San Francisco School of Law and Master of Science and Bachelor of Science degrees from California State University, San Jose. Vazquez fills the vacancy created by the retirement of Judge Albert H. Maldonado. He is a Democrat.

Napa County Superior Court

Cynthia P. Smith, 56, of St. Helena, has been appointed to a judgeship in the Napa County Superior Court. Smith has been a partner at Coombs and Dunlap LLP since 2008, where she was of counsel from 2006 to 2007. She was a shareholder at Clement, Fitzpatrick and Kenworthy from 2005 to 2006. Smith was a partner at Stein and Smith from 2003 to 2005, where she was an associate from 2001 to 2002. She was an associate at Herdell and Yost LLP from 1998 to 2001. Smith earned a Juris Doctor degree from the University of California, Davis School of Law and a Bachelor of Arts degree from Stanford University. She fills the vacancy created by the retirement of Judge Francisca P. Tisher. Smith is a Democrat.

Victoria D. Wood, 44, of Napa, has been appointed to a judgeship in the Napa County Superior Court. Wood has served as a commissioner at the Napa County Superior Court since 2013, where she served as court counsel from 2004 to 2013. She was an attorney at Hanna, Brophy, MacLean, McAleer and Jensen LLP from 2002 to 2003, where she was an associate from 1998 to 2000. Wood served as an attorney at the First District Court of Appeal from 2000 to 2001 and was an associate at Harbinson, Carlson and Tune from 1997 to 1998. She earned a Juris Doctor degree from the University of California, Davis School of Law and a Bachelor of Science degree from Pacific Union College. Wood fills the vacancy created by the retirement of Judge Michael S. Williams. She is registered without party preference.

Orange County Superior Court


Jeremy D. Dolnick, 45, of Ladera Ranch, has been appointed to a judgeship in the Orange County Superior Court. Dolnick has served as a senior deputy alternate defender at the Orange County Alternate Defender's Office since 2013, where he served as a deputy alternate defender from 2004 to 2013. He was a partner at the Law Offices of Dolnick and Dolnick from 1999 to 2004. Dolnick earned a Juris Doctor degree from the Pepperdine University School of Law and a Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of California, Santa Barbara. He fills the vacancy created by the retirement of Judge Jamoa A. Moberly. Dolnick is a Democrat.

David J. Hesseltine, 47, of Tustin, has been appointed to a judgeship in the Orange County Superior Court. Hesseltine has served as a senior appellate attorney at the Fourth District Court of Appeal since 2010. He served as a senior legal research attorney at the Orange County Superior Court from 2004 to 2010. Hesseltine was a partner at Connor, Blake and Griffin LLP from 2003 to 2004, where he was an associate from 1996 to 2002. He earned a Juris Doctor degree from the University of San Diego School of Law and a Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of California, Irvine. Hesseltine fills the vacancy created by the retirement of Judge Andrew P. Banks. He is a Democrat.

Riverside County Superior Court

Emma C. Smith, 37, of San Clemente, has been appointed to a judgeship in the Riverside County Superior Court. Smith has been an assistant public defender at the Riverside County Public Defender's Office since 2017, where she served as a senior deputy public defender from 2009 to 2017. She was an attorney at the California Appellate Project from 2007 to 2008. Smith earned a Juris Doctor degree from the Santa Clara University School of Law and a Bachelor of Arts degree from American University. She fills the vacancy created by the retirement of Judge James S. Hawkins. Smith is a Democrat.

Sacramento County Superior Court

Lauri A. Damrell, 39, of Sacramento, has been appointed to a judgeship in the Sacramento County Superior Court. Damrell has been a partner at Orrick, Herrington and Sutcliffe LLP since 2016, where she was an associate from 2006 to 2016. She served as a law clerk for the Honorable David F. Levi at the U.S. District Court, Eastern District of California from 2005 to 2006. Damrell earned a Juris Doctor degree from the University of California, Davis School of Law and a Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of Pennsylvania. She fills the vacancy created by the retirement of Judge Michael G. Virga. Damrell is a Democrat.

Shama H. Mesiwala, 43, of Davis, has been appointed to a judgeship in the Sacramento County Superior Court. Mesiwala has served as a commissioner at the Sacramento County Superior Court since 2017. She has served as a visiting lecturer of law at the University of California, Davis School of Law since 2013. Mesiwala was a judicial attorney at the Third District Court of Appeal from 2004 to 2017, where she served as a senior judicial attorney for the Honorable Ronald B. Robie from 2006 to 2017 and as a central staff attorney from 2004 to 2006. She served as a staff attorney at the Central California Appellate Program from 1999 to 2004 and as an attorney at the Office of the Federal Public Defender, Eastern District of California in 1999. Mesiwala is co-founder of the South Asian Bar Association of Sacramento. She earned a Juris Doctor degree from the University of California, Davis School of Law and a Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of California, San Diego. She fills the vacancy created by the conversion of a court commissioner position on October 13, 2016. Mesiwala is the first South Asian American judge ever appointed to the Sacramento County Superior Court. She is a Democrat.

Jill H. Talley, 48, of Sacramento, has been appointed to a judgeship in the Sacramento County Superior Court. Talley has served as chief counsel at the Governor's Office of Emergency Services since 2014. She has been an adjunct professor at Lincoln Law School of Sacramento since 2012. Talley served in several positions at the California Department of Justice, Office of the Attorney General from 2002 to 2014, including supervising deputy attorney general and deputy attorney general. She was an associate at Loeb and Loeb LLP from 1999 to 2002 and a partner at Feldman and Talley LLP from 1997 to 1999. Talley was an associate at Feldman and Shaffery from 1996 to 1997 and at Hornberger and Criswell from 1995 to 1996. She earned a Juris Doctor degree from the Pepperdine University School of Law and a Bachelor of Arts degree from Rutgers University. She fills the vacancy created by the retirement of Judge Robert C. Hight. Talley is a Democrat.

San Bernardino County Superior Court

Joel S. Agron, 49, of Whitewater, has been appointed to a judgeship in the San Bernardino County Superior Court. Agron has served as a commissioner at the San Bernardino County Superior Court since 2016. He served as a deputy public defender at the San Bernardino County Public Defender's Office from 2002 to 2016. Agron was a sole practitioner from 1997 to 2002 and an associate at the Law Office of Randall Knox from 1995 to 1997. Agron earned a Juris Doctor degree from the University of California, Hastings College of the Law and a Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of California, Berkeley. He fills the vacancy created by the retirement of Judge Gerard S. Brown. Agron is a Democrat.

Jay H. Robinson, 46, of Claremont, has been appointed to a judgeship in the San Bernardino County Superior Court. Robinson has served as a deputy chief at the U.S. Attorney's Office, Central District of California since 2014, where he has served as an Assistant U.S. Attorney since 2009. He served as a deputy district attorney at the San Bernardino County District Attorney's Office from 2006 to 2009 and at the Riverside County District Attorney's Office from 2004 to 2006. He served as a law clerk for the Honorable Lawrence J. Block at the U.S. Court of Federal Claims from 2003 to 2004. Robinson served as an aviation officer in the U.S. Army from 1993 to 2000. He earned a Juris Doctor degree from J. Reuben Clark Law School and a Bachelor of Science degree from the U.S. Military Academy. Robinson fills the vacancy created by the retirement of Judge Cynthia Ludvigsen. He is registered without party preference.

San Diego County Superior Court

Daniel Belsky, 65, of San Diego, has been appointed to a judgeship in the San Diego County Superior Court. Belsky has been a partner at Davis, Grass, Goldstein and Finlay since 2017. He was president and managing director at Belsky and Associates from 1992 to 2017. Belsky was vice president at Sulzner and Belsky from 1986 to 1992. He was an associate at Rhoades, Hollywood and Neil from 1979 to 1986 and at Eliassen, Postel and Mee from 1978 to 1979. He earned a Juris Doctor degree from the University of Miami School of Law and a Bachelor of Arts degree from Hobart College. Belsky fills the vacancy created by the retirement of Judge Ronald S. Prager. He is registered without party preference.

San Francisco County Superior Court

Richard C. Darwin, 50, of San Francisco, has been appointed to a judgeship in the San Francisco County Superior Court. Darwin has been a shareholder at Buchalter since 2008, where he has held several positions since 2003, including co-chair of the Litigation Department and senior counsel. He was an associate at Covington and Burling from 1999 to 2003 and at Bronson, Bronson and McKinnon from 1992 to 1999. Darwin earned a Juris Doctor degree from the University of California, Hastings College of the Law and a Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of California, Los Angeles. He fills the vacancy created by the retirement of Judge Ronald E. Albers. Darwin is a Democrat.

San Luis Obispo County Superior Court

Matthew G. Guerrero, 47, of Oceano, has been appointed to a judgeship in the San Luis Obispo County Superior Court. Guerrero has been a sole practitioner since 2002. He was a contract attorney for the California Parole Advocacy Program from 2005 to 2011 and for Maguire and Ashbaugh as a public defender from 2002 to 2017. Guerrero earned a Juris Doctor degree from the University of San Diego School of Law and a Bachelor of Arts degree from California State University, San Bernardino. He fills the vacancy created by the retirement of Judge John A. Trice. Guerrero is a Democrat.

San Mateo County Superior Court

Danny Y. Chou, 48, of Millbrae, has been appointed to a judgeship in the San Mateo County Superior Court. Chou has served as an assistant county counsel at the Santa Clara County Counsel's Office since 2012. He served as chief of complex and special litigation at the San Francisco City Attorney's Office from 2008 to 2012, where he was chief of appellate litigation from 2006 to 2008. Chou served as a supervising staff attorney at the California Supreme Court from 2005 to 2006, where he was a judicial staff attorney from 1999 to 2005. He was a staff attorney at the U.S. Court of Appeals, Ninth Circuit from 1998 to 1999, an associate at Howard, Rice, Nemerovski, Canady, Falk and Rabkin from 1995 to 1998 and a law clerk for the Honorable Stanley A. Weigel at the U.S. District Court, Northern District of California from 1994 to 1995. Chou earned a Juris Doctor degree from Harvard Law School and a Bachelor of Arts degree from Harvard University. Effective February 26, 2018, Chou will fill the vacancy created by the retirement of Judge Barbara J. Mallach. Chou is a Democrat.

Santa Clara County Superior Court

Robert B. Hawk, 59, of Palo Alto, has been appointed to a judgeship in the Santa Clara County Superior Court. Hawk has been a partner at Hogan Lovells U.S. LLP since 2008. He was a shareholder at Heller Ehrman LLP from 1990 to 2008, where he was an associate from 1984 to 1990. He earned a Juris Doctor degree from Stanford Law School and a Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of Texas at Austin. Hawk fills the vacancy created by the retirement of Judge Teresa Guerrero-Daley. He is a Democrat.

Amber S. Rosen, 50, of Los Altos, has been appointed to a judgeship in the Santa Clara County Superior Court. Rosen has served as deputy chief of the San Jose Office of the U.S. Attorney's Office, Northern District of California since 2011, where she has served as an Assistant U.S. Attorney since 1995. She served as an attorney at the U.S. Department of Justice, Tax Division from 1992 to 1995. Rosen earned a Juris Doctor degree from the University of California, Berkeley School of Law and a Bachelor of Arts degree from Harvard University. Effective January 31, 2018, Rosen will fill the vacancy created by the retirement of Judge Philip H. Pennypacker. She is a Democrat.

Solano County Superior Court

Dora M. Rios, 47, of Benicia, has been appointed to a judgeship in the Solano County Superior Court. Rios has served as a deputy alternate defender at the Solano County Alternate Public Defender's Office since 2000. She was an attorney at the Law Offices of Robert Beles from 1999 to 2000 and served as a law clerk at the Santa Clara County Public Defender's Office in 1998. Rios earned a Juris Doctor degree from the Santa Clara University School of Law and a Bachelor of Arts degree from San Jose State University. She fills the vacancy created by the retirement of Judge Scott L. Kays. Rios is a Democrat.

Stanislaus County Superior Court

Kellee C. Westbrook, 44, of Turlock, has been appointed to a judgeship in the Stanislaus County Superior Court. Westbrook has been an associate at Perry and Associates since 2008. She was an instructor at Heald College from 2011 to 2013 and served as a deputy public defender at the Stanislaus County Public Defender's Office from 2000 to 2008 and at the Napa County Public Defender's Office in 2000. She served as a research attorney at the Sacramento County Public Defender's Office from 1999 to 2000. Westbrook earned a Juris Doctor degree from the University of California, Davis School of Law and a Bachelor of Arts degree from San Francisco State University. She fills the vacancy created by the retirement of Judge William A. Mayhew. Westbrook is a Democrat.

Ventura County Superior Court

Benjamin F. Coats, 57, of Ventura, has been appointed to a judgeship in the Ventura County Superior Court. Coats has been a partner at Engle Carobini and Coats LLP since 2007. He was a partner at Engle and Bride from 2005 to 2006, where he was an associate from 1998 to 2005. Coats was an associate at Belsher and Becker from 1995 to 1998, a planning consultant at Rogoway Planning Group from 1995 to 1998 and a trial attorney at Early Maslach from 1989 to 1994. He earned a Juris Doctor degree from the John F. Kennedy University College of Law and a Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of California, Los Angeles. He fills the vacancy created by the retirement of Judge Colleen T. White. Coats is registered without party preference.

The compensation for each of these positions is $200,042.

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