Governor Gavin Newsom today appointed Justice Patricia Guerrero to the Supreme Court. If the appointment is confirmed by the Commission on Judicial Appointments, Guerrero will become the court’s first Latina justice. There have been four Latino justices. Guerrero would replace Justice Mariano-Florentino Cuéllar, who left the court over three months ago.
Justice Guerrero also would again give the court a female majority, something it hasn’t had since Justice Kathryn Werdegar retired in 2017.
Then-Governor Jerry Brown appointed Guerrero to the Fourth District, Division One, Court of Appeal, based in San Diego, in 2017. She was a San Diego Superior Court judge for four years before that, including serving a year as the Supervising Judge for the Family Law Division. Prior to her judicial career, Guerrero was an associate and then a partner at Latham and Watkins for 15 years, with a two-year break when she was as an assistant U.S. Attorney.
Newsom’s news release reports that Guerrero “has contributed many hours of pro bono work, including as a member of the Advisory Board of the Immigration Justice Project, to promote due process and access to justice at all levels of the immigration and appellate court system. She has assisted clients on a pro bono basis in immigration matters, including asylum applications and protecting vulnerable families by litigating compliance with fair housing laws.”
Guerrero, 50, was born in the Imperial Valley, the daughter of Mexican immigrant parents. She is a magna cum laude undergrad alum of UC Berkeley and graduated from Stanford Law School in 1997.
In a statement, Newsom said, “As we continue to make strides in building a judiciary more representative of our state’s diversity, Justice Guerrero will bring her rich background and experiences to important decisions that impact the daily lives of every Californian.”
Guerrero said, “If confirmed, 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.”
Governor Newsom provided a brief video of a conversation he had with Justice Guerrero discussing her background.
Justice Guerrero has already served on the Supreme Court, although just temporarily. Sitting as a pro tem justice, she joined a December 2020 unanimous opinion holding a plaintiff seeking an accounting must “state a specific dollar amount to support a default judgment granting monetary relief.” She questioned both sides during the oral argument. (See at 1:42:40 and 2:13:20 here.)
Media coverage of the appointment includes: Cheryl Miller in The Recorder, Craig Anderson in the Daily Journal, Bob Egelko in the San Francisco Chronicle, Sophia Bollag in the Sacramento Bee, and Nathan Solis in the Los Angeles Times. [Update: Greg Moran in the San Diego Union-Tribune.]