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Newsom names first Latina to serve as chief justice of the California Supreme Court

Sacramento Bee logo Sacramento Bee 8/10/2022 Andrew Sheeler, The Sacramento Bee
Patricia Guerrero, center, shares a laugh with husband Joe Dyson, right, before being sworn in to the California Supreme Court on Monday, March 28 by Gov. Gavin Newsom, background left, at the Stanford Mansion in Sacramento. © Nathaniel Levine/The Sacramento Bee/TNS Patricia Guerrero, center, shares a laugh with husband Joe Dyson, right, before being sworn in to the California Supreme Court on Monday, March 28 by Gov. Gavin Newsom, background left, at the Stanford Mansion in Sacramento.

Associate Justice Patricia Guerrero could soon be the first Latina to serve as Chief Justice of the California Supreme Court, after Gov. Gavin Newsom named her Wednesday to replace outgoing Tani Cantil-Sakauye, whose term expires early next year.

“Justice Guerrero has established herself as a widely respected jurist with a formidable intellect and command of the law and deep commitment to equal justice and public service,” Newsom said in a statement announcing his decision.

Justice Guerrero, 50, a first-generation Californian from the Imperial Valley, already holds the distinction of being the first Latina to serve on the California Supreme Court after she was appointed by Newsom earlier this year.

“If confirmed, I look forward to continuing the strides the court has made under Chief Justice Cantil-Sakauye to expand equal access to justice and create a fairer justice system for all Californians,” Guerrero said in a statement.

Chief Justice Cantil-Sakauye was appointed to the California Supreme Court by former Republican Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger. Her term in office expires Jan. 2 of next year.

Newsom also named Alameda County Superior Court Judge Kelli Evans to replace Guerrero as associate justice on the bench.

Evans, 53, has served in her current capacity since 2021.

Prior to that, Evans was Newsom’s chief deputy legal affairs secretary, “where she helped shape California’s moratorium on capital punishment and advised the Governor and executive agencies on myriad issues in administrative proceedings and in state and federal trial and appellate courts,” according to Newsom’s office.

Evans marks Newsom’s third appointment to the seven-member court since taking office in 2018. He also appointed Guerrero and Associate Justice Martin Jenkins.

Evans is the second openly LGBTQ justice to serve on the bench, with Jenkins being the first. The appointment drew praise from Equality California Executive Director Tony Hoang.

“Representation is power, and it’s critical in our collective fight for full, lived equality. Governor Newsom’s historic appointment of Judge Evans ensures that California’s highest court better reflects the diversity of our state and sends an important message to the rest of the country at a time when LGBTQ+ people, women and communities of color are under attack,” Hoang said in a statement.

Both Guerrero and Evans’ appointments must be confirmed by the Commission on Judicial Appointments, made up of Cantil-Sakauye, Attorney General Rob Bonta and Senior Presiding Justice of the state Court of Appeal Manuel Ramirez.

Guerrero’s appointment also must be confirmed by California voters on the November 2022 ballot.

©2022 The Sacramento Bee. Visit sacbee.com. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

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