large classroom of students seated with woman speaking


Students in Northern Central Valley Welcome Chief Justice Guerrero

On her way to the Glenn County Courthouse Dedication, the state's Chief Justice pays a visit to a local middle school.
Apr 15, 2024

Seventh graders at Willows Intermediate School in northern California's Glenn County had a special guest Friday–California Chief Justice Patricia Guerrero.

Chief Justice Guerrero made the stop to speak with students and answer questions for nearly an hour in Aaron Vought's Medieval World History class before attending a dedication ceremony at the nearby courthouse.

“The Chief Justice taking time to stop by our school was a thrill for our students,” said Willows Intermediate School Principal Chris Harris. "This is not only a first for our school district, I think it is a first for our county. It certainly left a lasting impression on us all.”

Statewide, the judicial branch's Power of Democracy Civic Learning Initiative encourages courts to connect with local schools. Through the Judges in the Classroom program, judges visited more than 340 classrooms this school year alone. Before her appointment in 2022, Chief Justice Guerrero volunteered for the program in Southern California.

"I'm hoping that by meeting and talking with me and Glenn County Assistant Presiding Judge Alicia Ekland, students will think more about their academic future and maybe even envision a career in law," Chief Justice Guerrero said. "And I hope that visits like we did today will continue next school year in counties in this region."

Succession Planning

Fair and equal access to justice in the northern part of the Central Valley is being threatened due to a shortage of licensed attorneys. According to the State Bar of California, Glenn County is home to 14 active attorneys who serve 28,000 residents. In nearby Trinity County, with 10,000 fewer residents, 15 licensed attorneys practice law. Moving further up the state, the Del Norte County bench measures similarly to Glenn County, with two judges serving a population of 27,000. Yet for those residents, roughly 43 are licensed to practice law.

"We're not alone—there are several areas of the state where access to attorneys is limited," said Judge Ekland. "As a judge, I feel obligated to do what I can to support teachers and their efforts to encourage students to study law, to pursue a legal education, and most importantly, come back to us as a member of our local legal community."

Judge Ekland served as county counsel for Glenn County before her appointment to the bench in 2018, when she became the first female judge for the Superior Court of Glenn County.

"I learned so much from the students who were engaged and asked thoughtful questions about the judicial branch and our system of government. With the continued support of their teachers, principal, and families, it is clear these students can achieve great academic success," said Chief Justice Guerrero. "I hope I was able to provide some helpful guidance, and I also hope that my visit encourages courts in this region to plan now for visits to K-12 classrooms this coming school year."

For more information about the Power of Democracy, visit