News Release

Justice Martin J. Jenkins Sworn In to California Supreme Court

Praised for his "brilliant intellect, first-class temperament, and boundless humanity," Justice Jenkins makes history as the first openly gay California Supreme Court justice and only the third African American man to serve on the state’s highest court.
Nov 10, 2020

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

SAN FRANCISCO—Chief Justice Tani G. Cantil-Sakauye, chair of the Commission on Judicial Appointments, announced that the commission today confirmed Justice Martin J. Jenkins as Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of California.

The appointment was approved by a unanimous vote in the Supreme Court Courtroom in San Francisco.

A report by the Commission on Judicial Nominees Evaluation found Justice Jenkins "exceptionally well qualified"—the highest possible rating—for service on the California Supreme Court. "He is praised for his brilliant intellect, first-class temperament, and boundless humanity," the report said.

Justice Martin Jenkins fills the vacancy created by the retirement of Justice Ming Chin on Aug. 31. Justice Jenkins is the first openly gay California Supreme Court justice and only the third African American man ever to serve on the state’s highest court.

Justice Jenkins has held several prominent state and federal judicial positions throughout his career, his most recent role as the Governor’s judicial appointments secretary. In that role, he spearheaded transparency efforts by making public the Regional Judicial Selection Advisory Committees, so that for the first time in California history, the individuals who provide feedback on judicial candidates for nomination and appointment will be known to the public. Justice Jenkins has worked closely with these committees and the Governor to build a judiciary that reflects the people they serve, appointing a diverse group of 45 jurists that will help shape the California judiciary for years to come.

Prior to his role in the Newsom administration, Justice Jenkins served as an associate justice on the First District Court of Appeal from 2008 to 2019. He was appointed by President Bill Clinton to the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California in 1997 and served on that bench until 2008.

Justice Jenkins served as a judge on the Alameda County Superior Court (1992-1997) and on the Oakland Municipal Court (1989-1992). From 1986 to 1989, he was a trial attorney with the Pacific Bell Legal Department of San Francisco and from 1983 to 1986, he worked in the U.S. Department of Justice as a trial attorney litigating civil rights cases. From 1980 to 1983, he worked as a prosecutor for the Alameda County District Attorney’s Office.

Justice Jenkins earned a Juris Doctor degree from the University of San Francisco School of Law.