SACRAMENTO, Calif. (CN) – The last five years marked many firsts for judicial appointments throughout California, according to data released by Gov. Jerry Brown’s office Tuesday.
Brown has appointed 356 men and women to the bench since 2011, and nearly 40 percent identify as a member of a minority group – either Hispanic, black, Native American, Asian or Pacific Islander.
Among those appointees were some of the first minorities ever chosen to serve as judges in their courts. In 2011, Raquel Marquez became the first Latina judge ever appointed in Riverside County, a historical first repeated with the 2015 appointment of Judge Sonia Cortes in Yolo County.
Brown’s selection of Mark Andrew Talamantes for the Marin County bench in 2012 also marked the Latino judge appointed in that county. That year also saw the appointment of Chris Doehle as the first female judge ever in El Dorado County. Judge Yvette Durant became Sierra County’s first female judge in 2016.
In 2013, Sunil Kulkarni became the first judge of South Asian descent ever appointed in Northern California. A former senior counsel for the University of California, Kulkarni is now a judge in Santa Clara County. Brown also appointed Rupa Goswami to the bench in Los Angeles as its first female judge of South Asian descent.
In December of that same year, Paul Lo of Merced became the first Hmong judge ever appointed in the United States.
Judge Ferdinand Inumerable also became the first Asian-American judge appointed in Ventura County in 2014.
In 2016, Justice Richard Fields, a former presiding judge of Riverside County Superior Court, became the first black man appointed to the Fourth Appellate District.
California also saw a number of openly gay and lesbian judges and justices appointed in the last five years. Justice Jim Humes became the first openly gay justice to serve on the California Court of Appeal in 2012. In 2014, Therese Stewart became the first openly lesbian justice appointed to that court.
In 2015, Justice Marsha Slough, a former trial judge in San Bernardino County, became the first openly gay justice in the history of the Fourth Appellate District.
Under S.B. Bill 56, the governor must disclose statewide demographic data provided by all judicial applicants, relative to ethnicity and gender, by March 1 each year.