Governor Announces Dozens of California Appeals Court, Superior Court Judgeships

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By Crescenzo Vellucci

The Vanguard Sacramento Bureau

SACRAMENTO, CA – As the old saying goes, “It’s good work if you can get it,” and for 27 legal types,  appointments announced very late last Friday to superior court judgeships throughout the state by the governor means an annual salary of $231,174. Each.

Gov. Gavin Newsom also announced his nomination of three Court of Appeal Justices, including Justice Brian Currey as Presiding Justice of the Second District Court of Appeal, Division Four; Judge Helen Zukin as an Associate Justice of the Second District Court of Appeal, Division Four; and Judge Martha Gooding as an Associate Justice of the Fourth District Court of Appeal, Division Three. The salary is $264,542. Each.

The appeals court justices require confirmation by the Commission on Judicial Appointments, which includes  Chief Justice Patricia Guerrero and Attorney General Rob Bonta. For Currey and Zukin, Senior Presiding Justice Arthur Gilbert will be on the commission, while Senior Presiding Justice Manuel Ramirez will be on Gooding’s panel.

One superior court judge was appointed in Alameda, Contra Costa, Fresno, Kern, Kings, Orange, San Mateo, Santa Clara, Santa Cruz, Stanislaus, San Bernardino, Tulare and Tuolumne counties; two judges were named in Sacramento and San Diego counties;  three in Sonoma County and seven in Los Angeles County.

An interesting note is Judge Peter Williams, of Sacramento County, who was appointed to serve as a Judge in the Sacramento County Superior Court, is currently a judge at the Yolo County Superior Court, since 2019

In the rundown provided by the Governor’s Office below, all jurists, except for one Republican, are either Democratic or Decline-to-State voters.

Nine jurists are listed as former public, or alternate public, defenders, and five are listed as former prosecutors. Another appointee, Elisa Marie Della-Piana of Alameda County, was staff attorney, fellow and Legal Director at the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights of the San Francisco Bay Area, Director of Programs and Director of the Neighborhood Justice Clinic at the East Bay Community Law Center.  

What follows is the descriptions of the judges, from information, as written, from the governor’s statement:

Second District Court of Appeal

Justice Brian Currey, of Los Angeles County, has been nominated to serve as Presiding Justice of the Second District Court of Appeal, Division Four, where he has served as an Associate Justice since 2018. He served as a Judge at the Los Angeles County Superior Court from 2014 to 2018. Justice Currey was Of Counsel at O’Melveny and Myers LLP from 2013 to 2014. He served as Deputy Mayor for Economic and Business Policy in the Los Angeles Mayor’s Office in 2013 and was Counsel to the Mayor from 2010 to 2013. Justice Currey was a Partner at O’Melveny and Myers LLP from 1989 to 2010, where he was an Associate from 1981 to 1989. He earned a Juris Doctor degree from the University of Virginia School of Law. Justice Currey fills the vacancy created by the retirement of Presiding Justice Nora Manella. This position requires confirmation by the Commission on Judicial Appointments, which consists of Chief Justice Patricia Guerrero, Attorney General Rob Bonta and Senior Presiding Justice Arthur Gilbert. Justice Currey is a Democrat.

Judge Helen Zukin, of Los Angeles County, has been nominated to serve as an Associate Justice of the Second District Court of Appeal, Division Four. She has served as a Judge of the Los Angeles County Superior Court since 2018. Judge Zukin was a Partner at Kiesel Law LLP from 2010 to 2018, where she was Of Counsel from 2006 to 2010. She was a Sole Practitioner from 1995 to 2006 and a Partner at Simke, Chodos, Silberfeld and Anteau Inc. from 1992 to 1995, where she was an Associate from 1990 to 1992. Judge Zukin was an Associate at Greene, O’Reilly, Agnew and Broillet from 1985 to 1990. She earned a Juris Doctor degree from Loyola Law School, Los Angeles. She is being nominated to fill the vacancy that will be created pending confirmation of Justice Brian Currey’s nomination as Presiding Justice of the Second District Court of Appeal, Division Four. This position requires confirmation by the Commission on Judicial Appointments, which consists of Chief Justice Patricia Guerrero, Attorney General Rob Bonta and Senior Presiding Justice Arthur Gilbert. Judge Zukin is a Democrat.

Fourth District Court of Appeal 

Judge Martha Gooding, of Orange County, has been nominated to serve as an Associate Justice of the Fourth District Court of Appeal, Division Three. She has served as a Judge in the Orange County Superior Court since 2013. Judge Gooding was a Partner at Jones Day from 2011 to 2013. She was a Partner at Howrey LLP from 2000 to 2011. Judge Gooding was a Partner at Howard Rice Nemerovski Canady Falk and Rabkin from 1989 to 2000, where she was an Associate from 1983 to 1989. She earned a Juris Doctor degree from the University of California, Berkeley School of Law. Judge Gooding fills the vacancy created by the retirement of Justice Richard D. Fybel. This position requires confirmation by the Commission on Judicial Appointments, which consists of Chief Justice Patricia Guerrero, Attorney General Rob Bonta and Senior Presiding Justice Manuel Ramirez. Judge Gooding is a Democrat.

Alameda County Superior Court

Elisa Marie Della-Piana, of Alameda County, has been appointed to serve as a Judge in the Alameda County Superior Court. Della-Piana has been Legal Director at the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights of the San Francisco Bay Area since 2016. She was Director of Programs and Director of the Neighborhood Justice Clinic at the East Bay Community Law Center from 2008 to 2015. Della-Piana was a Staff Attorney and Fellow at the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights of the San Francisco Bay Area from 2004 to 2008. She served as a Law Clerk at the U.S. Court of Appeals, Ninth Circuit from 2003 to 2004 and at the U.S. District Court, Eastern District of California from 2002 to 2003. She earned a Juris Doctor degree from the University of California, Berkeley School of Law. She fills the vacancy created by the retirement of Judge Dennis McLaughlin. Della-Piana is a Democrat.

Contra Costa County Superior Court

Gina Dashman, of Contra Costa County, has been appointed to serve as a Judge in the Contra Costa County Superior Court. Dashman has served as a Commissioner at the Contra Costa County Superior Court since 2020. She was a Partner at Haapala, Thompson & Abern LLP from 2014 to 2020 and an Associate there from 2009 to 2013. Dashman was a Sole Practitioner from 2009 to 2013 and Of Counsel at Stein, Rudser Cohen & Magid from 2002 to 2009. Dashman was Partner and Of Counsel at Buresh, Kaplan, Jang & Feller from 1995 to 2002 and an Associate there from 1988 to 1994. She was an Associate at Epstein Becker & Green from 1986 to 1988. Dashman earned a Juris Doctor degree from George Washington University Law School. She fills the vacancy created by the retirement of Judge Anita Santos. Dashman is a Democrat.

Fresno County Superior Court

David Munoz Figueroa, of Tulare County, has been appointed to serve as a Judge in the Fresno County Superior Court. Munoz Figueroa has served as Chief Deputy Public Defender at the Fresno County Public Defender’s Office since 2019, where he served as a Deputy Public Defender from 2007 to 2019. He earned a Juris Doctor degree from the University of California College of the Law, San Francisco. Munoz Figueroa fills the vacancy of a new position created on July 1, 2022. He is a Democrat.

Kern County Superior Court

Stephanie Renee Childers, of Kern County, has been appointed to serve as a Judge in the Kern County Superior Court. Childers has been a Sole Practitioner since 1996. She earned a Juris Doctor degree from the California Pacific School of Law. She fills the vacancy created by the retirement of Judge Craig Phillips. Childers is a Republican.

Kings County Superior Court 

Kendra Weber, of Kings County, has been appointed to serve as a Judge in the Kings County Superior Court. Weber has served as an Administrative Law Judge at the Board of Parole Hearings since 2023. She served as an Attorney at Kings County Child Support Services from 2016 to 2022. She served as a Deputy District Attorney at the Kings County District Attorney’s Office from 2012 to 2016. Weber was an Associate at Sawl Law Group from 2009 to 2012. Weber earned a Juris Doctor degree from the Chapman University School of Law. She fills the vacancy created by the retirement of Judge Donna Tarter. Weber is registered without party preference.

Los Angeles County Superior Court

Jerrold Abeles, of Los Angeles County, has been appointed to serve as a Judge in the Los Angeles County Superior Court. Abeles has been a Partner at ArentFox Schiff LLP since 2007. He was a Partner at O’Brien Abeles LLP from 2002 to 2006 and an Associate at LeBoeuf Lamb Greene & MacRae LLP from 1988 to 2002. Abeles earned a Juris Doctor degree from the University of Southern California Gould School of Law. He fills the vacancy created by the retirement of Judge Dorothy Reyes. Abeles is a Democrat.

Sonia Govea, of Los Angeles County, has been appointed to serve as a Judge in the Los Angeles County Superior Court. Govea has served as a Deputy District Attorney at the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office since 2007. She was an Attorney at the Law Offices of Antonio Govea from 2003 to 2007. Govea earned a Juris Doctor degree from Columbia Law School. She fills the vacancy created by the elevation of Judge Gregory Weingart to the Court of Appeal. Govea is a Democrat.

Diana Tsang, of Los Angeles County, has been appointed to serve as a Judge in the Los Angeles County Superior Court. Tsang has served as a Deputy Public Defender at the Los Angeles County Public Defender’s Office since 2003. She earned a Juris Doctor degree from the University of California, Los Angeles School of Law. Tsang fills the vacancy created by the retirement of Judge Carlos Vazquez. She is a Democrat.

David Wasserman, of Los Angeles County, has been appointed to serve as a Judge in the Los Angeles County Superior Court. Wasserman has served as a Supervising Deputy Federal Public Defender at the Office of the Federal Public Defender, Central District of California since 2018, where he was a Deputy Federal Public Defender from 2012 to 2018. He served as an Attorney at the San Bernardino County Public Defender’s Office from 2011 to 2012 and was a Law Clerk there from 2010 to 2011. Wasserman earned a Juris Doctor degree from the University of California, Los Angeles School of Law. He fills the vacancy created by the retirement of Judge Jesus Rodriguez. Wasserman is a Democrat.

Ryan White, of Los Angeles County, has been appointed to serve as a Judge in the Los Angeles County Superior Court. White has been a Partner at Halpern May Ybarra Gelberg LLP since 2020, and has been an Adjunct Professor at Loyola Law School since 2014. White served as an Assistant U.S. Attorney at the U.S. Attorney’s Office, Central District of California from 2011 to 2020, including as Chief and Deputy Chief of the Cyber & Intellectual Property Crimes Section. He was an Associate at Latham & Watkins LLP from 2008 to 2010. White earned a Juris Doctor degree from the University of California, Los Angeles School of Law. He fills the vacancy created by the retirement of Judge Mark Mooney. White is a Democrat.

Ryan Williams, of Los Angeles County, has been appointed to serve as a Judge in the Los Angeles County Superior Court. Williams has served as a Deputy District Attorney at the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office since 2007. He was an Associate at Lightfoot, Vandevelde from 2002 to 2007 and a Law Clerk for the Honorable Patrick J. Walsh at the U.S. District Court, Central District of California from 2001 to 2002. Williams earned a Juris Doctor degree from the University of Southern California Gould School of Law. He fills the vacancy created by the elevation of Judge Victor Viramontes to the Court of Appeal. Williams is a Libertarian.

Lynette Gridiron Winston, of Los Angeles County, has been appointed to serve as a Judge in the Los Angeles County Superior Court. She has served as a Commissioner at the Los Angeles County Superior Court since 2021. Gridiron Winston was a Senior Associate at Tung & Associates in 2021 and a Contract Attorney at Robert Half Legal from 2020 to 2021. She was Of Counsel at Anglin Flewelling Rasmussen Campbell & Trytten LLP from 2008 to 2020 and an Attorney at the Law Office of Lynette M. Gridiron & Black Law Institute from 1995 to 2008. She was an Associate at Paul Hastings Janofsky & Walker from 1990 to 1995. Gridiron Winston earned a Juris Doctor degree from the University of Southern California Gould School of Law. She fills the vacancy created by the retirement of Judge Gloria White-Brown. Gridiron Winston is a Democrat.

Orange County Superior Court

Jay Moorhead, of Orange County, has been appointed to serve as a Judge in the Orange County Superior Court. Moorhead has served as a Deputy Public Defender at the Orange County Public Defender’s Office since 2006. He earned a Juris Doctor degree from Whittier Law School. He fills the vacancy created by the elevation of Judge Joanne Motoike to the Court of Appeal. Moorhead is registered without party preference.

Sacramento County Superior Court

Michelle Igra, of Sacramento County, has been appointed to serve as a Judge in the Sacramento County Superior Court. Igra has served as a Supervising Deputy Attorney General in the California Department of Justice, Office of the Attorney General since 2011 and served as a Deputy Attorney General there from 2006 to 2011. She was an Associate at Anwyl, Scoffield & Stepp LLP in 2006 and at Crump, Bruchler & La Velle from 1999 to 2006.  Igra earned a Juris Doctor degree from the Seattle University School of Law. She fills the vacancy created by the retirement of Judge David De Alba. Igra is registered without party preference.

Judge Peter Williams, of Sacramento County, has been appointed to serve as a Judge in the Sacramento County Superior Court. He has served as a Judge at the Yolo County Superior Court since 2019. Judge Williams served as Deputy Secretary, General Counsel at the California Business, Consumer Services and Housing Agency from 2016 to 2019. He served in several roles at the California Department of Justice, Office of the Attorney General from 2001 to 2015, where he was Supervisor of the Fraud and Special Prosecutions Unit and was a cross-designated Special Federal Prosecutor with the U.S. Attorney’s Office in both the Eastern and Central Districts of California. He was an Associate at Boutin Jones Inc. from 2000 to 2001, at Carle, Mackie, Power and Ross from 1998 to 2000 and at Bolling, Walter and Gawthrop from 1996 to 1998. Judge Williams earned a Juris Doctor degree from the University of San Diego School of Law. He fills the vacancy created by the elevation of Judge Stacy Boulware Eurie to the Court of Appeal. Judge Williams is a Democrat.

San Bernardino County Superior Court

Enrique Guerrero, of Riverside County, has been appointed to serve as a Judge in the San Bernardino County Superior Court. He has served as a Deputy District Attorney at the San Bernardino County District Attorney’s Office since 1999. Guerrero was a Contract Attorney at the San Diego County District Attorney’s Office from 1997 to 1998. He earned a Juris Doctor degree from the California Western School of Law. He fills the vacancy of a new position created on July 1, 2022. Guerrero is registered without party preference.

San Diego County Superior Court

Marsha Bipin Amin, of San Diego County, has been appointed to serve as a Judge in the San Diego County Superior Court. Amin has served as a Managing Attorney at the Fourth District Court of Appeal since 2018 and was a Senior Appellate Court Attorney there from 2011 to 2018. She was an Associate at Procopio from 2006 to 2010 and served as a Law Clerk at the U.S. District Court, Southern District of California from 2005 to 2006. Amin earned a Juris Doctor degree from the University of San Diego School of Law and a Master of Social Work degree from the University of Southern California. She fills the vacancy created by the retirement of Judge Laura Halgren. Amin is a Democrat.

Alejandro Morales, of San Diego County, has been appointed to serve as a Judge in the San Diego County Superior Court. Morales has served as a Deputy Alternate Public Defender at the Office of the San Diego County Alternate Public Defender since 2014. He earned a Juris Doctor degree from the University of San Diego School of Law. Morales fills the vacancy created by the retirement of Judge James Simmons. Morales is a Democrat.

San Mateo County 

Nina Shapirshteyn, of San Mateo County, has been appointed to serve as a Judge in the San Mateo County Superior Court. Shapirshteyn has been a Partner at Alexander Law Group LLP since 2014, where she has held several roles since 2013, including Trial Attorney. She earned a Juris Doctor degree from Pace Law School. She fills the vacancy created by the retirement of Judge John Grandsaert. Shapirshteyn is a Democrat.

Santa Clara County Superior Court

Ram Fletcher, of Santa Clara County, has been appointed to serve as a Judge in the Santa Clara County Superior Court. Fletcher has been a Partner at Bohn & Fletcher LLP since 2013. He was an Associate at Bohn & Bohn from 2007 to 2012 and a Sole Practitioner from 2005 to 2006. Fletcher earned a Juris Doctor degree from the Santa Clara University School of Law. He fills the vacancy created by the elevation of Judge Charles Wilson to the Court of Appeal. Fletcher is registered without party preference.

Santa Cruz County Superior Court

Leila Sayar, of Santa Clara County, has been appointed to serve as a Judge in the Santa Cruz County Superior Court. Sayar has been a Sole Practitioner since 2016. She was an Attorney at Biggam, Christensen & Minsloff from 2012 to 2016 and a Sole Practitioner from 2010 to 2012. Sayar served as a Deputy Public Defender at the Riverside County Public Defender’s Office from 2008 to 2010 and as an Associate at the Law Offices of Timothy A. Scott in 2007. She was an Attorney at New York County Defender Services from 2003 to 2005. Sayar earned a Juris Doctor degree from New York Law School. She fills the vacancy created by the retirement of Judge John Gallagher. Sayar is a Democrat.

Sonoma County Superior Court

Lynnette Brown, of Sonoma County, has been appointed to serve as a Judge in the Sonoma County Superior Court. Brown has served as a Deputy Public Defender at the Sonoma County Public Defender’s Office since 2010. She served as a Senior Law Clerk at the Sonoma County Public Defender’s Office from 2009 to 2010 and as a Law Clerk there from 2008 to 2009. Brown earned a Juris Doctor degree from the Empire College School of Law. She fills the vacancy created by the retirement of Judge Barbara Phelan. Brown is a Democrat.

Jane Gaskell, of Sonoma County, has been appointed to serve as a Judge in the Sonoma County Superior Court. Gaskell has been a Partner at Andrian, Gallenson & Gaskell since 2020. She was an Associate at the Law Offices of Andrian & Gallenson from 2011 to 2019 and a Law Clerk at the Sonoma County Office of the Public Defender from 2010 to 2011. She earned a Juris Doctor degree from the Empire College School of Law. She fills the vacancy created by the retirement of Judge Jamie Thistlethwaite. Gaskell is a Democrat.

Paige Hein, of Sonoma County, has been appointed to serve as a Judge in the Sonoma County Superior Court. Hein has served as a Deputy Public Defender at the Sonoma County Public Defender’s Office since 2015. She served as an Assistant Public Defender at the Sacramento County Public Defender’s Office from 2006 to 2015. Hein earned a Juris Doctor degree from the University of Wisconsin Law School. She fills the vacancy created by the retirement of Judge Nancy Shaffer. Hein is a Democrat.

Stanislaus County Superior Court

Sweena Pannu, of Stanislaus County, has been appointed to serve as a Judge in the Stanislaus County Superior Court. Pannu has served as a Deputy County Counsel in the Stanislaus County Counsel’s Office since 2020. She served as a Deputy Public Defender at the Stanislaus County Public Defender’s Office from 2006 to 2020. She was an Attorney at M.L.SARIN from 1996 to 2004. Pannu earned a Master of Laws degree from the University of Aberdeen School of Law. She fills the vacancy created by the retirement of Judge Thomas D. Zeff. Pannu is a Democrat.

Tulare County Superior Court

Douglas Rodgers, of Tulare County, has been appointed to serve as a Judge in the Tulare County Superior Court. Rodgers has served as an Assistant District Attorney at the Tulare County District Attorney’s Office since 2023 and has served as both a Supervising Attorney and a Deputy District Attorney there since 2003. Rodgers is a Veteran of the U.S. Army, where he served on active duty from 1996 to 2000. He earned a Juris Doctor degree from the University of San Francisco School of Law. He fills the vacancy created by the retirement of Judge Gary Paden. Rodgers is registered without party preference.

Tuolumne County Superior Court

David Beyersdorf, of Tuolumne County, has been appointed to serve as a Judge in the Tuolumne County Superior Court. Beyersdorf has been a Sole Practitioner since 2016. He was an Associate at Richard Ciummo and Associates from 2011 to 2016 and a Sole Practitioner from 2009 to 2011. Beyersdorf was a Partner and Attorney at Lee & Beyersdorf LLP from 2006 to 2008. He was a Sole Practitioner from 2005 to 2006 and an Associate at the Law Offices of Brunn & Flynn from 2004 to 2005 and at the Law Offices of Hal J. Geiersbach from 2002 to 2004. Beyersdorf earned a Juris Doctor degree from the Seattle University School of Law. He fills the vacancy created by the retirement of Judge Kate Segerstrom. Beyersdorf is a Democrat.

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