News Release

Commission Confirms Justice Patricia Guerrero’s Nomination as Chief Justice of California

Justice Guerrero must now be elected by voters at the Nov. 8 general election. If elected, she would be the first Latina to serve as Chief Justice of California.
Aug 26, 2022

* Photos from the hearing are available for download here (Courtesy: Commission on Judicial Appointments). * 

Public documents are available here.

SAN FRANCISCO—Chief Justice Tani G. Cantil-Sakauye, chair of the Commission on Judicial Appointments, announced that the commission today confirmed Justice Patricia Guerrero’s nomination as Chief Justice of California.

The nomination was approved by a unanimous vote of the commission—which includes Chief Justice Cantil-Sakauye, Attorney General Rob Bonta, and senior Presiding Justice of the state Courts of Appeal Manuel A. Ramirez—in the Supreme Court Courtroom in San Francisco.  Justice Guerrero must now be elected by voters at the Nov. 8 general election in order to assume office in January.

A report by the Commission on Judicial Nominees Evaluation found Justice Guerrero "exceptionally well qualified" and the “ideal choice” for service as Chief Justice of California:

“She has had an exceptional career as a litigator in both the private and public sectors and possesses substantial experience in every area of the law at the trial and appellate level,” the committee wrote. “She is universally lauded for her superior intellect, clear writing, judicial temperament, work ethic, and compassion. Justice Guerrero also has significant managerial experience in both the private and public sectors, as well as on the bench, and is praised by other bench officers for her collegiality.”

Justice Guerrero would succeed current Chief Justice Tani G. Cantil-Sakauye, who announced she will not seek re-election after 12 years as chief justice and 38 years of public service.

Justice Guerrero was sworn in as an associate justice of the California Supreme Court in March, making her the first Latina to serve on the state's high court. Prior to being elevated to the California Supreme Court, Justice Guerrero had served as an associate justice at the Fourth District Court of Appeal, Division One since 2017.

A native of the Imperial Valley raised by immigrant parents from Mexico, Justice Guerrero began working in a grocery store at the age of 16 and graduated as co-valedictorian in high school. She continued working to help pay for her education while attending the University of California, Berkeley and Stanford Law School, where she earned a Juris Doctor degree. Justice Guerrero was active in the Latino Law Students Association and helped fellow students at the recruitment and retention center.

Prior to her appointment to the Fourth District Court of Appeal, Justice Guerrero served as a judge at the San Diego County Superior Court from 2013 to 2017 and was supervising judge for the Family Law Division at the court in 2017. Justice Guerrero was hired as an associate at Latham & Watkins and became a partner in 2006. She served as an assistant U.S. attorney at the U.S. Attorney’s Office, Southern District of California from 2002 to 2003.

Justice Guerrero has contributed many hours of pro bono work, including as a member of the Advisory Board of the Immigration Justice Project, to promote due process and access to justice at all levels of the immigration and appellate court system. She has assisted clients on a pro bono basis in immigration matters, including asylum applications and protecting vulnerable families by litigating compliance with fair housing laws.

As a justice on the Fourth District Court of Appeal, Justice Guerrero was chair of the State Bar’s Blue Ribbon Commission on the Future of the Bar Exam and chair of the Judicial Council of California Advisory Committee on Criminal Jury Instructions. Justice Guerrero has been active in the Chief’s “Judges in the Classroom” civics program.

In July, Justice Guerrero was elected to the American Law Institute, an independent national organization that produces scholarly work to clarify, modernize and otherwise improve the law. 

Justice Guerrero is also being recognized in October as a recipient of the annual Bernard E. Witkin award for Excellence in the Adjudication of the Law.