Riverside County Judges Pick New Presiding, Assistant Presiding Judges

RIVERSIDE, Calif. (CN) — Riverside County Superior Court Judge John Monterosso will serve as the Southern California court’s next presiding judge starting in 2021, and Judge Judith Clark will be the next assistant presiding judge.

The Riverside County (Calif.) Historic Courthouse, one of 14 courthouses across the county. (By michael h j c – originally posted to Flickr as Courthouse, 1903, CC BY-SA 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=8958338)

Both judges were appointed by Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger and previously worked in the Riverside County District Attorney’s Office at some point in their careers.

Like all the other court systems across the nation, Riverside County closed its doors to the public this past March during the Covid-19 pandemic. Just before resuming jury trials this past June, the court implemented limited entry to the courts, audio livestreams and social distancing with enforcement that masks be worn at all times while in the courthouses.

Monterosso is the court’s assistant presiding judge and has been on the bench since 2007, currently in the criminal division. A graduate of the University of San Francisco School of Law, Monterosso clerked for the late California Supreme Court Associate Justice Allen Broussard. Monterosso was awarded the Southwest Felony Prosecutor of the Year award in 1998 and 2004 while working with the Riverside DA’s office. He spent 17 years as a prosecutor and ended his time in the DA’s office as assistant deputy DA.

His previous assignments in the Riverside court include felony trials, family law and juvenile dependency along with the mental health court and drug court program. Monterosso has also served as the lead judge with the Southwest Justice Center and the county’s court security committee.

Clark, who will start her term as the assistant presiding judge on Jan. 1, is a graduate from the University of San Diego School of Law and holds a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice with a minor in addictions from the Metropolitan State College in Denver.

Clark is currently the presiding judge of the county’s juvenile court. Before entering the legal field, she worked as a counselor at two residential treatment centers for minors. She worked with the DA’s office for 16 years, ending her time there as a supervisor of the training and writs and appeals division.

“When I first entered the legal profession as an attorney, I had no idea what areas of the law would become a passion for me,” Clark said in an email interview. “Just by happenstance, while serving in the District Attorney’s Office I was never assigned to the juvenile division.”

She presides over the dependency calendar in the juvenile court’s southwest division and was previously assigned to criminal trials and family law.

“I have found these past five years serving as a juvenile court judge to be particularly satisfying and I am sad to step away from this assignment. The approach to juvenile treatment and recidivism (like so many areas of the law) has seen a dramatic shift in recent years,” said Clark. 

She said her goals are to help the court “facilitate access to justice” for everyone and “ensure timely judicial hearings, while ensuring the safety of our court staff, our judicial partners and our court users.”

“Given the length of time that I have served on the bench and the variety of assignments I have held as a judicial officer, I felt I could bring a broad perspective and depth of experience to the position,” Clark said.

Both judges will serve two-year terms, having been selected by their fellow jurists in an uncontested election.

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