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California May Have Its First Ever Latina Judge in State Supreme Court

On Tuesday, California Governor Gavin Newsom announced he has nominated Mexican-American Justice Patricia Guerrero to serve as a judge on the California State Supreme Court. If appointed, Guerrero would become the first Latina ever to hold the position.

“I am deeply honored by this incredible opportunity to uphold the rule of law and make a positive impact on the lives of Californians across the state,” said Justice Guerrero in a statement. “If confirmed, I look forward to helping instill confidence in the equality and integrity of our judicial system while honoring the sacrifices of my immigrant parents and demonstrating to young people that anything is possible in our wonderful and diverse country.”

The nomination is a momentous occasion for Guerrero, whose parents and grandparents immigrated from Mexico to California before she was born.

In a conversation with Governor Newsom, Justice Guerrero shared the story of her family’s humble beginnings. “[My family] grew up in a small town in Sonora, Mexico called Yécora,” she said. “My grandfather was able to get a sponsor so that he could have his lawful permanent residence in the United States and he ended up going to Imperial Valley. My father, when he first came to the United States, he was working in the field picking crops.”

Despite Guerrero’s blue collar origins, the first-generation Latina graduated as valedictorian of Imperial High School, received her Bachelor’s degree from the University of California, Berkeley and her law degree from Stanford Law School.

Guerrero credits her academic track record to her late mother. “[My mother] impressed the importance of reading and education, telling us that there were really no limitations in terms of what we can accomplish,” Guerrero said in her conversation with Governor Newsom.

While Guerrero launched her career by practicing law as an attorney, she became a judge in 2013 when she was appointed supervising judge for San Diego’s for the family law division. She was appointed as a justice for the California 4th District Court of Appeal in 2017.

While practicing law, Guerrero gave back to the community by doing pro bono work in immigration matters, including assisting folks with asylum applications and helping families fight unfair housing practices.

In a statement, Governor Newsom lauded Guerrero as an example for what is possible for other first generation Latinas. “Her extraordinary journey and nomination to serve as the first Latina Justice on the bench of our state’s highest court is an inspiration to all of us and a testament to the California Dream’s promise of opportunity for all to thrive, regardless of background or zip code,” he said.

“I didn’t get here alone. I stand on the shoulders of my parents and my grandparents who came to this country for better opportunities for their children. I think it’s important for people to see that even if they don’t want to be a lawyer or a judge, they can achieve whatever dreams that they want with opportunity and hard work.”

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