California Gets 12 New Superior Court Judges

SACRAMENTO —  Governor Jerry Brown on Friday announced the appointment of 12 California superior court judges: two each in Los Angeles and Riverside counties, and one each in Orange, Placer, San Bernardino, San Diego, San Francisco, San Mateo County, Stanislaus and Ventura counties.

In L.A. Superior Court

Miguel T. Espinoza, 39, of Los Angeles, has been an Assistant U.S. attorney in the Central District of California since 2017. He was a deputy district attorney for Los Angeles County 2008 to 2017 and worked for Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign from 2007 to 2008, including statewide political director and deputy field director. He was a senior adviser for Antonio Villaraigosa’s mayoral campaign from 2004 to 2005 and deputy policy director for Villaraigosa’s City Council campaign from 2002 to 2003. He earned his J.D. at the University of Southern California, a master’s of public administration from Harvard University, his B.A. from USC- Santa Cruz. He fills the vacancy created by the elevation of Judge Carl H. Moor to the Court of Appeal.

Alison M. Mackenzie, 42, of Los Angeles, has been a partner at Boies, Schiller & Flexner since 2017. She worked at Caldwell, Leslie and Proctor from 2007 to 2017, and clerked for U.S. District Judge Dean Pregerson in the Central District of California from 2005 to 2006. She earned her J.D. from Yale Law School and her B.A. from Stanford. She fills the vacancy created by the elevation of Judge Helen Bendix to the Court of Appeal. She is a Democrat.

In Orange County Superior Court

Sheila O. Recio, 46, of Long Beach, has been a commissioner at Orange County Superior Court since 2016, and worked in several other positions there from 2005 to 2016, including deputy general counsel, senior research attorney and counsel to the presiding judge. She was an associate at Morrison and Foerster from 2000 to 2005 and a research attorney at L.A. Superior Court from 1998 to 2000. She earned her J.D. at USC and her B.A. at UCLA. She fills the vacancy created by the retirement of Judge Thierry Colaw. She is a Democrat.

In Placer County Superior Court

Todd D. Irby, 60, of Rocklin, received an interim appointment to the court where he has been a commissioner since 2017. He was deputy secretary and chief counsel at the California Department of Veterans Affairs from 2012 to 2017 and a deputy attorney general at the California Office of the Attorney General from 2007 to 2012. He was in private practice from 1991 to 2007. He earned his J.D. from the Pepperdine University School of Law and his B.A. from Ohio State. Irby was elected in June to fill the vacancy created by the retirement of Judge Frances A. Kearney. The appointment allows him to immediately assume the position he was otherwise elected to begin in January 2019. Irby is a Democrat.

In Riverside County Superior Court

Jennifer R. Gerard, 42, of Yorba Linda, has been a commissioner at Riverside County Superior Court since 2017. She was an attorney at the Riverside County Minors’ Counsel Panel and Adoption Panel from 2012 to 2017, a sole practitioner in family law and criminal defense from 2006 to 2017 and a deputy district attorney for the Riverside County District Attorney’s Office from 2003 to 2006. She earned her J.D. from the Western State University College of Law and bachelor’s and master’s degrees from Chapman University. She fills the vacancy created by the retirement of Judge Gloria Trask. She is a Democrat.

Timothy J. Hollenhorst, 41, of Riverside, has been a deputy district attorney for Riverside County since 2004. He earned his J.D. from the University of Kansas and his B.A. from UC-Santa Barbara. Hollenhorst was selected in June to fill the vacancy created by the retirement of Judge James A. Cox. The appointment allows him to immediately assume the position he was to begin in January 2019. He is registered without party preference.

In San Bernardino County Superior Court

David E. Driscoll, 63, of Riverside, has been appointed to a judgeship in the San Bernardino County Superior Court. Driscoll has been an associate at Berman, Berman, Berman, Schneider and Lowary since 2017 and was a sole practitioner from 2004 to 2017. Driscoll was a partner and attorney at Driscoll and Reynolds from 1998 to 2004 and at Foster and Driscoll from 1991 to 1998. He earned his J.D. from the Western State University College of Law and an Associate of Applied Science degree from Barstow Community College. He fills a new position created on Sept. 18, 2017. He is a Democrat.

In San Diego County Superior Court

Loren G. Freestone, 47, of San Diego, has been a partner at Higgs, Fletcher and Mack since 2014, where he was an associate from 2008 to 2014 and from 1999 to 2004. He earned his J.D. from the University of San Diego School of Law and his bachelor’s degree at UCLA. He fills the vacancy created by the retirement of Judge David J. Danielsen. He is a Democrat.

In San Francisco County Superior Court

Christine Van Aken, 44, of San Francisco, has been chief of appellate litigation at the San Francisco City Attorney’s Office since 2012, where she was a deputy city attorney since 2006. She clerked for U.S. Supreme Court Justice David Souter from 2004 to 2005 and was an associate at Arnold and Porter from 2003 to 2004. She earned her J.D. at New York University School of Law and her B.A. at Harvard. She fills the vacancy created by the retirement of Judge Nancy Davis. She is a Democrat.

In San Mateo County Superior Court

Susan M. Jakubowski, 50, of Santa Clara, has been a commissioner at San Mateo County Superior Court since 2006, where she was a research attorney from 2000 to 2006. She was a deputy public defender at the Santa Cruz County Public Defender’s Office from 1996 to 2000. She earned her J.D. from the Santa Clara University School of Law and her B.A. from Babson College. She fills the vacancy created by the retirement of Judge Steven Dylina. She is registered without party preference.

In Stanislaus County Superior Court

Carrie M. Stephens, 54, of Newman, received an interim appointment as judge in the court where she has been a deputy county counsel since 1999. She has been a member of the U.S. Navy Judge Advocate General’s Corps since 1991, an appellate judge at the Navy and Marine Corps Court of Criminal Appeals since 2017 and a military trial judge at the Navy and Marine Corps Trial Judiciary from 2010 to 2015. She was a deputy public defender at the Stanislaus County Public Defender’s Office from 1996 to 1999. She earned her J.D. from the University of the Pacific, McGeorge School of Law and a Bachelor of Science degree from the University of the Pacific. She was selected in June to fill the vacancy created by the retirement of Judge Loretta Begen. Effective Aug. 3, the appointment allow hers to immediately assume the position she was to begin in January 2019. She is a Republican.

In Ventura County Superior Court

Ronda J. McKaig, 45, of Santa Paula, has been an assistant county counsel and senior civil attorney at the Office of Ventura County Counsel since 2014. She was counsel at Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher and Flom from 2010 to 2014, and an associate there from 2004 to 2010. She earned her J.D. from Loyola Law School, Los Angeles and her B.A. from California Lutheran University. Effective July 31, she will fill the vacancy created by the retirement of Judge Frederick H. Bysshe. She is registered without party preference.

California superior court judges are paid a salary of $200,042.

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