A Latina Chief Justice of California may lead the nation’s largest judicial system
On Wednesday, Supreme Court Associate Justice Patricia Guerrero was nominated by California Governor Gavin Newsom for the first Latina Chief Justice of California. If selected, Guerrero will succeed Chief Justice Tani Cantil-Sakauye when her term ends January 2023.
Gov. Newsom appointed Guerrero to the California Supreme Court as an associate justice earlier this year in February and was confirmed in March. Guerrero, 50, became the first Latina to serve on the California Supreme Court after former State Supreme Court Justice Mariano-Florentino Cuéllar stepped down. Alongside the court’s six associate justices, Guerrero would continue to hear cases as the first Latina Chief Justice of California. As chair of the Judicial Council of California, which establishes administrative policy for all state courts, she will also serve as the administrative leader of the high court.
In an interview with Gov. Newsom, Patricia Guerrero shared the story of her family’s immigration. Her grandfather is from the town of Yécora, Sonora, Mexico, and moved to the Imperial Valley in Southern California after gaining his legal permanent residency in the United States. Guerrero’s father managed to travel to the country and worked by picking crops. Her mother was a strong advocate for her education because she instilled in her children the value of reading and education while disregarding any restrictions on what they could achieve.
As a University of California, Berkeley graduate with a Juris Doctor (JD) degree from Stanford Law School, Patricia Guerrero showed a strong desire to assist other Latino students by participating actively in the Latino Law Students Association, where she assisted other students in the center for recruitment and retention. Before joining the San Diego County Superior Court in 2017, she worked as an Assistant U.S. Attorney at the Southern District of California’s U.S. Attorney’s Office from 2002 to 2003.
Guerrero was appointed in 2017 to the Fourth District Court of Appeal, Division One, as an Associate Justice. According to reports, the Latina Chief Justice of California nominee “has authored numerous opinions to protect the rights of consumers and individuals, while also ensuring that the constitutional rights of defendants are protected and that all parties, including the government, are treated fairly and consistently with the rule of law.”
Guerrero will require her California Supreme Court nomination to be accepted by voters in November and be confirmed by the Commission on Judicial Appointments. The commission currently includes Chief Justice Tani Cantil-Sakauye and Attorney General Rob Bonta. Governor Newsom stated that Patricia Guerrero’s nomination as the first Latina Chief Justice of California “is an inspiration to all of us and a testament to the California Dream’s promise of opportunity for all to thrive, regardless of background or zip code.”