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Office of the Governor

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:

Contact: Governor's Press Office

Thursday, October 11, 2018 (916) 445-4571

Governor Brown Appoints 33 Superior Court Judges

SACRAMENTO – Governor Edmund G. Brown Jr. today announced the appointment of 33 California superior court judges, which include: two in El Dorado County; two in Fresno County; one in Glenn County; fifteen in Los Angeles County; two in Merced County; three in Riverside County; one in San Diego County; one in San Joaquin County; three in Santa Clara County; one in Solano County; one in Stanislaus County; and one in Ventura County.

 

El Dorado County Superior Court

 

 

Michael J. McLaughlin, 52, of South Lake Tahoe, has been appointed to a judgeship in the El Dorado County Superior Court. McLaughlin has been a partner at Feldman McLaughlin Thiel LLP since 2011. He was a partner at Feldman, Shaw and McLaughlin LLP from 2007 to 2011 and an associate at Feldman Shaw LLP from 2001 to 2007 and at Feldman, Shaw and DeVore LLP from 1998 to 2001. McLaughlin was an associate at Porter, Groff and Lodwick from 1996 to 1998, at Robinson, DiLando and Whitaker from 1993 to 1995, at the Law Offices of Donald B. Caffrey in 1993 and at Girardi Keese from 1992 to 1993. He earned a Juris Doctor degree from Loyola Law School, Los Angeles and a Bachelor of Business Administration degree from Loyola Marymount University. He fills the vacancy created by the retirement of Judge James R. Wagoner. McLaughlin is a Democrat.

 

 

Jamie L. Pesce, 39, of Folsom, has been appointed to a judgeship in the El Dorado County Superior Court. Pesce has served as a deputy district attorney at the El Dorado County District Attorney’s Office since 2005. She was a sole practitioner and a research attorney at Orion Outdoor Media in 2005. Pesce earned a Juris Doctor degree from the University of the Pacific, McGeorge School of Law and a Bachelor of Science degree from the University of California, Davis. She fills the vacancy created by the retirement of Judge Steven C. Bailey. Pesce is a Republican.

 

Fresno County Superior Court

 

 

Ana I. de Alba, 38, of Fresno, has been appointed to a judgeship in the Fresno County Superior Court. De Alba has been a shareholder at Lang, Richert and Patch PC since 2013, where she was an associate from 2007 to 2013. She earned a Juris Doctor degree from the University of California, Berkeley School of Law and a Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of California, Berkeley. She fills the vacancy created by the retirement of Judge Dale Ikeda. De Alba is a Democrat.

 

 

Amy K. Guerra, 39, of Fresno, has been appointed to a judgeship in the Fresno County Superior Court. Guerra has been chief defense attorney in the Alternate Defense Office at Richard Ciummo and Associates since 2014, where she was an associate from 2007 to 2014. She earned a Juris Doctor degree from the San Joaquin College of Law and a Bachelor of Arts degree from California State University, Fresno. She fills the vacancy created by the elevation of Judge Mark W. Snauffer to the Court of Appeal. Guerra is a Democrat.

 

Glenn County Superior Court

 

 

Alicia R. Ekland, 41, of Chico, has been appointed to a judgeship in the Glenn County Superior Court. Ekland has served as county counsel of Glenn County since 2016. She was a volunteer attorney at Legal Services of Northern California from 2015 to 2016, a sole practitioner from 2012 to 2016 and a staff attorney at the Coalition to Abolish Slavery and Trafficking from 2010 to 2012. Ekland was an associate at the Law Offices of Alex Kessel from 2009 to 2010 and at Solomon, Saltsman and Jamieson in 2009. She served as a deputy public defender at the Los Angeles County Public Defender’s Office from 2007 to 2009. She earned a Juris Doctor degree from the Yeshiva University Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law and a Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of California, Davis. Ekland fills the vacancy created by the retirement of Judge Peter B. Twede. She is the first woman judge ever appointed to the Glenn County Superior Court. Ekland is registered without party preference.

 

Los Angeles County Superior Court

 

 

Maria Lucy Armendariz, 48, of Los Angeles, has been named to an interim appointment for a judgeship in the Los Angeles County Superior Court. Armendariz has served as a judge at the State Bar Court of California since 2007. She served as chief of staff in the Office of California State Senator Gloria Romero from 2002 to 2007 and was counsel for the California State Assembly Committee on Public Safety from 2001 to 2002. Armendariz served as ombudsman at the California Department of Corrections from 1999 to 2001, as a legal consultant in the Office of California State Assemblymember Robert M. Hertzberg from 1998 to 1999 and as legal counsel for the California State Senate Committee on Public Safety from 1997 to 1998. She earned a Juris Doctor degree from the University of California, Hastings College of the Law and a Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of California, Los Angeles. Armendariz was elected in June, 2018 to fill the vacancy created by the retirement of Judge Donna F. Goldstein. The Governor’s appointment allows her to immediately assume the position she was otherwise elected to begin in January, 2019. Armendariz is a Democrat.

 

 

Craig S. Barnes, 61, of Los Angeles, has been appointed to a judgeship in the Los Angeles County Superior Court. Barnes has been a partner at Clyde and Co. since 2018. He held several positions at Sedgwick LLP from 1985 to 2017, including managing partner of the Los Angeles Office, partner and associate. He earned a Juris Doctor degree from the University of California, Los Angeles School of Law, a Master of City Planning degree from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and a Bachelor of Arts degree from the City University of New York at Hunter College. He fills the vacancy created by the elevation of Judge Gail R. Feuer to the Court of Appeal. Barnes is a Democrat.

 

 

Mario Barrera, 55, of Palmdale, has been appointed to a judgeship in the Los Angeles County Superior Court. Barrera has served as a deputy alternate public defender at the Los Angeles County Alternate Public Defender’s Office since 2007. He served as a deputy public defender at the Los Angeles County Public Defender’s Office from 1992 to 2007. Barrera earned a Juris Doctor degree from Southwestern Law School and a Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of California, Los Angeles. He fills the vacancy created by the death of Judge Sandra A. Thompson. Barrera is a Democrat.

 

 

Diego H. Edber, 45, of Los Angeles, has been appointed to a judgeship in the Los Angeles County Superior Court. Edber has served as a commissioner at the Los Angeles County Superior Court since 2017. He served as a deputy city attorney at the Los Angeles City Attorney’s Office from 2007 to 2017 and as a deputy attorney general at the California Department of Justice, Office of the Attorney General from 2001 to 2007. Edber was a sole practitioner from 2000 to 2001. He was an associate at Ball and Yorke from 1999 to 2000 and at Deloitte and Touche LLP from 1998 to 1999. Edber earned a Juris Doctor degree from the University of Minnesota Law School and a Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of California, Santa Barbara. He fills the vacancy created by the retirement of Judge Patrick A. Cathcart. Edber is a Democrat.

 

 

Jill T. Feeney, 52, of Pasadena, has been appointed to a judgeship in the Los Angeles County Superior Court. Feeney has served as a deputy chief of the Major Frauds Section of the U.S. Attorney’s Office, Central District of California since 2007, where she has served as an Assistant U.S. Attorney since 2001. She served as an Assistant U.S. Attorney at the U.S. Attorney’s Office, Eastern District of New York from 1997 to 2001. Feeney was an associate at Arnold and Porter from 1993 to 1997, an assistant to Special Counsel Mary McLaughlin at the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee’s Subcommittee on Technology, Terrorism and Government Information in 1995 and a law clerk for the Honorable William H. Yohn, Jr. at the U.S. District Court, Eastern District of Pennsylvania from 1992 to 1993. She earned a Juris Doctor degree from Yale Law School and a Bachelor of Arts degree from the College of William and Mary. She fills the vacancy created by the retirement of Judge Howard L. Halm. Feeney is a Democrat.

 

 

 

Danielle R. A. Gibbons, 44, of Lakewood, has been named to an interim appointment for a judgeship in the Los Angeles County Superior Court. Gibbons has served as a commissioner at the Los Angeles County Superior Court since 2017. She was a partner, attorney and chief financial officer at Gibbons, Gibbons and Gibbons from 2004 to 2017 and was a sole practitioner from 2001 to 2004. She earned a Juris Doctor degree from the University of the Pacific, McGeorge School of Law and a Bachelor of Arts degree from California State University, Fullerton. Gibbons was elected in June, 2018 to fill the vacancy created by the retirement of Judge Mark G. Nelson. The Governor’s appointment allows her to immediately assume the position she was otherwise elected to begin in January, 2019. Gibbons is a Democrat.

 

 

Rene C. Gilbertson, 51, of Palos Verdes Peninsula, has been named to an interim appointment for a judgeship in the Los Angeles County Superior Court. Gilbertson has been a principal deputy county counsel in the Los Angeles Office of County Counsel since 2008, where she has served in several positions since 1999. She was a staff attorney at the Children’s Law Center from 1996 to 1998. Gilbertson was a staff attorney and interim executive director at the Alliance for Children’s Rights from 1994 to 1996. She earned a Juris Doctor degree from the Wake Forest University School of Law and a Bachelor of Arts degree from Wake Forest University. Gilbertson was elected in June, 2018 to fill the vacancy created by the retirement of Judge Robert Higa. The Governor’s appointment, effective November 1, 2018, allows her to assume the position she was otherwise elected to begin in January, 2019. Gilbertson is a Democrat.

 

 

Sabina A. Helton, 54, of Rancho Palos Verdes, has been appointed to a judgeship in the Los Angeles County Superior Court. Helton has been a shareholder at Buchalter APC since 2016. She was a shareholder at Parker Milliken APC from 2012 to 2015 and a partner at McGuire Woods LLP from 2006 to 2012. She was senior counsel at Van Etten, Suzumoto and Becket PC from 2003 to 2006, at Mitsubishi Motors America from 2002 to 2003 and at Kelley Drye and Warren from 2000 to 2002. Helton held several positions at Pillsbury from 1990 to 2000, including senior associate and associate. She earned a Juris Doctor degree from the University of California, Hastings College of the Law and a Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of California, Berkeley. She fills the vacancy created by the retirement of Judge Lloyd C. Loomis. Helton is a Democrat.

 

 

Carolina V. Lugo, 47, of Pasadena, has been appointed to a judgeship in the Los Angeles County Superior Court. Lugo has served as a deputy district attorney at the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office since 2000, where she was a law clerk from 1999 to 2000. She earned a Juris Doctor degree from the University of California, Los Angeles School of Law and a Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of California, Riverside. She fills the vacancy created by the retirement of Judge Kenji Machida. Lugo is a Democrat.

 

 

Brenda J. Penny, 72, of Los Angeles, has been appointed to a judgeship in the Los Angeles County Superior Court. Penny has been a commissioner at the Los Angeles County Superior Court since 2014, where she served as an assistant supervising probate attorney from 2001 to 2014 and as a probate attorney from 1997 to 2001. She was a sole practitioner from 1994 to 1997 and a partner at Gronemeier and Barker from 1989 to 1994, where she was an associate from 1982 to 1994. Penny earned a Juris Doctor degree from the University of West Los Angeles School of Law and a Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of Southern California. She fills the vacancy created by the conversion of a court commissioner position on June 21, 2018. Penny is a Democrat.

 

 

Michael R. Powell, 56, of Los Angeles, has been appointed to a judgeship in the Los Angeles County Superior Court. Powell has served as a deputy public defender at the Los Angeles County Public Defender’s Office since 2004. He served as a law clerk at the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office from 2002 to 2004. Powell earned a Juris Doctor degree from Southwestern Law School and a Bachelor of Science degree from California State University, Long Beach. He fills the vacancy created by the retirement of Judge Robert L. Hess. Powell is a Democrat.

 

 

Anne K. Richardson, 55, of Los Angeles, has been appointed to a judgeship in the Los Angeles County Superior Court. Richardson has been director of the Consumer Law Project at Public Counsel since 2014. She was a partner at Hadsell, Stormer, Richardson and Renick LLP from 1998 to 2014, where she was an associate from 1993 to 1998. She was a public interest fellow at Litt and Stormer from 1990 to 1992 and served as a law clerk for the Honorable Mariana R. Pfaelzer at the U.S. District Court, Central District of California from 1989 to 1990. Richardson earned a Juris Doctor degree from Stanford Law School and a Bachelor of Arts degree from Swarthmore College. She fills the vacancy created by the conversion of a court commissioner position on June 21, 2018. Richardson is a Democrat.

 

 

Robert Serna, 45, of Eastvale, has been appointed to a judgeship in the Los Angeles County Superior Court. Serna has served as a deputy district attorney at the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office since 2000. He earned a Juris Doctor degree from Loyola Law School, Los Angeles and a Bachelor of Arts degree from California State University, Fullerton. He fills the vacancy created by the retirement of Judge James R. Brandlin. Serna is a Republican.

 

 

Michelle S. Short, 55, of Los Angeles, has been appointed to a judgeship in the Los Angeles County Superior Court. Short has served as a commissioner at the Los Angeles County Superior Court since 2015. She was a sole practitioner from 2005 to 2015 and served as a staff attorney at the Los Angeles County Department of Child Support Services from 2001 to 2005. Short was an owner and partner at Rousier and Nagel from 1999 to 2001. She earned a Juris Doctor degree from Whittier Law School and a Bachelor of Arts degree from California State University, Northridge. She fills the vacancy created by the retirement of Judge Hank Goldberg. Short is a Democrat.

 

 

Timothy M. Weiner, 49, of Rancho Palos Verdes, has been appointed to a judgeship in the Los Angeles County Superior Court. Weiner has served as a commissioner at the Los Angeles County Superior Court since 2016 and as an adjunct professor at Southwestern Law School since 2003. He served as a deputy attorney general at the California Department of Justice, Office of the Attorney General from 2001 to 2016. Weiner earned a Master of Laws degree from the Chapman University Dale E. Fowler School of Law, a Juris Doctor degree from Southwestern Law School and a Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of California, Santa Cruz. He fills the vacancy created by the retirement of Judge Robert M. Martinez. Weiner is a Democrat.

 

Merced County Superior Court

 

 

Shelly A. Seymour, 58, of Merced, has been appointed to a judgeship in the Merced County Superior Court. Seymour has served as a commissioner at the Merced County Superior Court since 2014, where she was a facilitator and self-help attorney from 2008 to 2013. She served as a commissioner at the Mariposa County Superior Court from 2012 to 2014 and was a sole practitioner from 1997 to 2008. Seymour was an associate at Canelo, Hansen and Wilson from 1989 to 1997, a law clerk at Cyril Lawrence Inc. from 1988 to 1989 and an associate at Dumbaugh and Childers PC from 1986 to 1988. She earned a Juris Doctor degree from the University of Iowa College of Law and a Bachelor of Arts degree from Loras College. She fills the vacancy created by the retirement of Judge Harry L. Jacobs. Seymour is a Democrat.

 

 

Steven K Slocum, 41, of Merced, has been appointed to a judgeship in the Merced County Superior Court. Slocum has served as a commissioner at the Merced County Superior Court since 2018. He served in several positions at the Merced County District Attorney’s Office from 2005 to 2018, including as supervising deputy district attorney. Slocum was an associate at Musick, Peeler and Garrett LLP from 2002 to 2005. He earned a Juris Doctor degree from the Pepperdine University School of Law and a Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of California, Los Angeles. He fills the vacancy created by the retirement of Judge Ronald W. Hansen. Slocum is a Republican.

 

Riverside County Superior Court

 

 

Emily A. Benjamini, 51, of La Quinta, has been appointed to a judgeship in the Riverside County Superior Court. Benjamini has been a sole practitioner since 2014. She was an attorney at Benjamini and Benjamini from 2005 to 2014 and at the Law Offices of Jenny L. Doling in 2005. Benjamini served as a deputy public defender at the Law Offices of the Riverside County Public Defender from 1996 to 2004 and was an associate at Slovak and Baron from 1994 to 1996 and at Lincoln, Gustafson and Cercos from 1992 to 1994. She earned a Juris Doctor degree from the University of San Diego School of Law and a Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor. She fills the vacancy created by the retirement of Judge Helios J. Hernandez. Benjamini is a Democrat.

 

 

Kenneth J. Fernandez, 52, of Anaheim, has been appointed to a judgeship in the Riverside County Superior Court. Fernandez has served as a commissioner at the Riverside County Superior Court since 2004. He served as a deputy district attorney at the Riverside County District Attorney’s Office from 1993 to 2004. Fernandez earned a Juris Doctor degree from the University of California, Davis School of Law and a Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of California, Berkeley. He fills the vacancy of a new position created on July 1, 2018. Fernandez is a Democrat.

 

 

Eric A. Keen, 47, of Riverside, has been appointed to a judgeship in the Riverside County Superior Court. Keen has served as supervising deputy public defender at the Riverside County Public Defender’s Office since 2008, where he has served in several positions since 1997. He was an associate at Stephen H. Tyler, A Professional Law Corporation from 1995 to 1997. Keen earned a Juris Doctor degree from the Western State University College of Law, a Master of Arts degree from the University of Redlands and a Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of California, Riverside. He fills the vacancy created by the retirement of Judge Charles E. Stafford. Keen is a Republican.

 

San Diego County Superior Court

 

 

Carlos Varela, 47, of Chula Vista, has been appointed to a judgeship in the San Diego County Superior Court. Varela has served as chief of the South Bay Division at the San Diego District Attorney’s Office since 2018, where he has served as a deputy district attorney since 1998. Varela earned a Juris Doctor degree from the California Western School of Law and a Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of California, San Diego. He fills the vacancy created by the retirement of Judge Lisa Schall. Varela is a Democrat.

 

San Joaquin County Superior Court

 

 

John R. Soldati, 50, of Stockton, has been named to an interim appointment for a judgeship in the San Joaquin County Superior Court. Soldati has served as a commissioner at the San Joaquin County Superior Court since 2016. He was a sole practitioner from 2006 to 2016 and served as a deputy district attorney at the San Joaquin County District Attorney’s Office from 1998 to 2006. Soldati earned a Juris Doctor degree from the University of the Pacific, McGeorge School of Law and a Bachelor of Arts degree from Saint Mary’s College of California. Soldati was elected in June, 2018 to fill the vacancy created by the retirement of Judge David P. Warner. The Governor’s appointment allows him to immediately assume the position he was otherwise elected to begin in January, 2019. Soldati is a Republican.

 

Santa Clara County Superior Court

 

 

Charles F. Adams, 40, of San Jose, has been appointed to a judgeship in the Santa Clara County Superior Court. Adams has served as a law clerk to the Honorable Edward J. Davila at the U.S. District Court, Northern District of California since 2011. He served as a staff attorney and legal research attorney at the Santa Clara County Superior Court from 2006 to 2011. Adams was an associate at Voss and Associates LLP from 2005 to 2006 and from 2003 to 2004 and at McDermott and McNamara LLP from 2004 to 2005. He earned a Juris Doctor degree from the Pepperdine University School of Law and a Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of California, Davis. He fills the vacancy created by the death of Judge Derek Woodhouse. Adams is a Democrat.

 

 

Frederick S. Chung, 48, of Palo Alto, has been appointed to a judgeship in the Santa Clara County Superior Court. Chung has been a partner at Gibson, Dunn and Crutcher LLP since 2008, where he was an associate from 2003 to 2007. He was an associate at Morrison and Foerster LLP from 1996 to 2003 and served as a law clerk for the Honorable Karen Nelson Moore at the U.S. Court of Appeals, Sixth Circuit from 1995 to 1996. Chung earned a Juris Doctor degree from Harvard Law School and a Bachelor of Arts degree from Harvard College. He fills the vacancy created by the retirement of Judge Margaret Johnson. Chung is a Democrat.

 

 

Panteha E. Saban, 41, of Los Gatos, has been appointed to a judgeship in the Santa Clara County Superior Court. Saban has served as a deputy public defender at the Santa Clara County Public Defender’s Office since 2000. She was a staff attorney at Appellate Defenders Inc. from 1999 to 2000. Saban earned a Juris Doctor degree from the California Western School of Law and a Bachelor of Arts degree from Sonoma State University. She fills the vacancy created by the retirement of Judge William J. Elfving. Saban is a Democrat.

 

Solano County Superior Court

 

 

Jeffrey C. Kauffman, 49, of Petaluma, has been appointed to a judgeship in the Solano County Superior Court. Kauffman has been a deputy district attorney at the Solano County District Attorney’s Office since 1995, serving as a chief deputy district attorney from 2011 to 2014. He served as a deputy district attorney at the Shasta County District Attorney’s Office in 1995. Kauffman earned a Juris Doctor degree from the University of California, Hastings College of the Law and a Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of California, Berkeley. He fills the vacancy created by the retirement of Judge Paul L. Beeman. Kauffman is registered without party preference.

 

Stanislaus County Superior Court

 

 

Sonny S. Sandhu, 40, of Modesto, has been appointed to a judgeship in the Stanislaus County Superior Court. Sandhu has served as the public defender of Stanislaus County since 2017. He served in several positions at the Stanislaus County Public Defender’s Office from 2003 to 2017, including chief deputy public defender and deputy public defender. He earned a Juris Doctor degree from The Ohio State University Moritz College of Law and a Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of California, Santa Barbara. He fills the vacancy created by the retirement of Judge Timothy W. Salter. Sandhu is a Democrat.

 

Ventura County Superior Court

 

 

Anthony J. Sabo, 51, of Camarillo, has been named to an interim appointment for a judgeship in the Ventura County Superior Court. Sabo has served as a commissioner at the Ventura County Superior Court since 2014. He served as a senior deputy district attorney at the Ventura County District Attorney’s Office from 2008 to 2014 and as a deputy prosecutor in the Office of the Dearborn and Ohio County Prosecutor from 1997 to 2008. He was a sole practitioner from 1995 to 2008. Sabo earned a Juris Doctor degree from the University of North Dakota School of Law and a Bachelor of Arts degree from Indiana University, Bloomington. Sabo was elected in June, 2018 to fill the vacancy created by the retirement of Judge Brian Back. The Governor’s appointment allows him to immediately assume the position he was otherwise elected to begin in January, 2019. Sabo is a Democrat.

 

The compensation for each of these positions is $200,042. 

 

    ###

Governor Edmund G. Brown Jr.
State Capitol Building
Sacramento, CA 95814


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