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California nominates its first Latina judge to state Supreme Court

Patricia Guerrero, a Mexican American from California, has been nominated to serve as an associate justice of the California Supreme Court.

Patricia Guerrero, a justice for the California 4th District Court of Appeal, has been nominated to serve as an associate justice of the California Supreme Court, Gov. Gavin Newsom announced Tuesday.

If confirmed, Guerrero would be the first Latina to serve on the California Supreme Court.

“I am deeply honored by this incredible opportunity to uphold the rule of law and make a positive impact on the lives of Californians across the state,” Guerrero said in a statement. “I look forward to helping instill confidence in the equality and integrity of our judicial system while honoring the sacrifices of my immigrant parents and demonstrating to young people that anything is possible in our wonderful and diverse country.”

Justice Patricia Guerrero.
Justice Patricia Guerrero.Fourth District Court of Appeal

Guerrero, 50, is considered a widely respected jurist with extensive experience as an appellate justice, trial court judge, partner at a major law firm and assistant U.S. attorney, according to Newsom’s office.

The daughter of Mexican immigrants, Guerrero is a native of Imperial Valley in Southern California. At 16, she worked at a grocery store before graduating high school as a co-valedictorian. She attended the University of California, Berkeley and Stanford Law School, where she earned a Juris Doctor degree.

During her time in school, Guerrero was active in the Latino Law Students Association and helped other students at the recruitment and retention center.

Helen Iris Torres, CEO of the nonprofit organization Hispanas Organized for Political Equality, celebrated the possibility of Guerrero’s appointment, calling it “a moment of historical progress.”

“Justice Guerrero’s voice will be critical as California’s highest court addresses vital issues, including those directly affecting the state’s 7.7 million Latinas, which are reproductive rights, immigration, criminal justice reform, discriminatory work practices, education, and more,” Torres said in a statement.

Guerrero served as an assistant U.S. attorney in the Southern District of California from 2002 to 2003. She was later hired as an associate at Latham & Watkins and became a partner in 2006.

Guerrero has served as an appellate justice since 2017. Before her appointment to the 4th District Court of Appeal, she served as a judge at the San Diego County Superior Court from 2013 to 2017.

In 2017, Guerrero also served as a supervising judge for the court's family law division.

“A keen legal mind and well-regarded jurist, Justice Guerrero’s wide-ranging experience, integrity, deep respect for the rule of law and lifelong commitment to public service make her a phenomenal candidate,” Newsom said in a statement. 

Pending her confirmation, Guerrero is in line to replace Associate Justice Mariano-Florentino Cuéllar, who left the bench effective Oct. 31.

Guerrero has also contributed pro bono work in the immigration and appellate court system, assisting clients in immigration matters such as asylum applications, and protecting vulnerable families by litigating compliance with fair housing laws, according to Newsom's office.

The nomination will be submitted to the state bar’s Commission on Judicial Nominees Evaluation and confirmed by the Commission on Judicial Appointments.

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