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California Supreme Court Chief Justice Patricia Guerrero being sworn in by Governor Newsom on January 2, 2023. (Photo: newsroom.courts.ca.gov)

Chief Justice Patricia Guerrero, Justice Kelli Evans Sworn In to California Supreme Court

Guerrero, Evans sworn in by Governor Newsom, who nominated them last August

By Evan Symon, January 3, 2023 12:05 pm

Governor Gavin Newsom swore in new California Supreme Court Chief Justice Patricia Guerrero and new California Supreme Court Associate Justice Kelli Evans on Monday following months of criticisms aimed at Evans’ lack of experience on the bench.

Guerrero, who replaces now former Chief Justice Tani Cantil-Sakauye, was first announced for the position in August following Cantil-Sakauye’s retirement announcement.

Starting her legal career in the late 90s for the Immigration Justice Project advisory board and as an assistant U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of California U.S. District Court, Guerrero received her first judgeship in 2013 as a judge on the San Diego District Court. Four years later she was moved up to the Fourth District Court of Appeals as an appellate judge, with her last move up coming in just March of last year when Newsom brought her up to the Supreme Court as an associate Justice.

Evans, who was also nominated in August but to fill Guerrero’s open slot and become the first open LGBT member of the Court, has had a long career of bouncing between different legal jobs every few years. From the mid 1990’s until her first Judge appointment in March of 2021 on the Alameda County Superior Court, she has worked for the Assistant Public Defender at the Sacramento County Public Defender’s Office, has worked for the ACLU twice, was a senior trial attorney for the U.S. Department of Justice, served in positions with the California State Bar and the California Department of Justice, worked as a special assistant to the Attorney General, and most recently, was a Deputy Legal Affairs Secretary and later a Chief Deputy Legal Affairs Secretary for Criminal Justice in the Office of Governor Gavin Newsom.

While Guerrero’s nomination in August was generally agreed on by legal experts, Evans’ nomination was widely panned for both her closeness to the Governor and her lack of experience on the bench. Some close to the courts have called her “disastrously inexperienced“. Despite this, Evans was confirmed in November by the Commission of Judicial Appointments, which then consisted of Chief Justice Cantil-Sakauye, Attorney General Rob Bonta, and California Court of Appeals Judge Manuel Ramirez.

California Supreme Court Justice Kelli Evans being sworn in by Governor Newsom on January 2, 2023. (Photo: newsroom.courts.ca.gov)

This led to Newsom’s swearing in of Guerrero and Evans on Monday. In a statement, Guerrero, who was sworn in while holding both a rosary from her mother and a belt buckle from her rodeo rider father, noted that “I am honored and privileged to serve as the 29th Chief Justice of this great state. I look forward to protecting the rights of all Californians and ensuring equal access to justice. Just as I did not get here alone, I do not move forward alone, and I look forward to embarking on this exciting new journey with family, friends, and colleagues.”

In another statement, Evans also said that “The California Supreme Court is a beacon, and I am immensely humbled and proud to be joining the court today. I pledge to serve the people of our beautiful state to the very best of my abilities, doing all I can to help fulfill the promise of equal justice under the law.”

Guerrero, Evans sworn in to state’s highest court

In addition to Newsom, Supreme Court Justices Carol Corrigan, Goodwin Liu, and Leondra Kruger also attended the swearing in in Sacramento, with guests such as Fourth Appellate District Administrative Presiding Justice Judith McConnell speaking on behalf of the new Justices.

“I am confident that whatever new challenges may arise,” said McConnell on Monday. “Chief Justice Guerrero will meet them with grace and skill. She has strength from her family roots in the Imperial Valley, and the strong guidance of her parents and grandparents.”

Despite the successful swearing in on Monday, many legal experts and those close to the courts remained wary of the ability of Evans.

“It’s great that there is an LGBT member of the court, but they couldn’t get anyone who been a judge longer than the Biden administration?,” explained legal advisor Alicia Brooks to the Globe on Tuesday. “Guerrero is fine. She has a long history on the court, and even if you don’t agree with some of her rulings, her work ethic has been called incredible by liberals and conservatives alike. She’ll at least stay. Evans, wow, she has a resume that in most professions, jumping around job to job sometimes a few times in a year, would be seen as a red flag. And, again, less than two years as a judge anywhere and suddenly she is on the Supreme Court. That isn’t normal. You usually have to be extraordinary or know someone to move up that fast. And, well, I’ll say this. Her former boss swore her in on Monday. What a coincidence, right?”

Following both Guerrero and Evans assuming their new positions on Monday, the California Supreme Court is now back up to full justice strength for 2023.

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Evan Symon
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2 thoughts on “Chief Justice Patricia Guerrero, Justice Kelli Evans Sworn In to California Supreme Court

  1. Par for the course. Newscum appoints legislative, radical, leftist judges who will legislate from the bench in favor of criminals and radical political attempts at shoving leftism down Californian taxpayers’ throats. The continued destruction and decline of a once great state. But what did we really expect?

  2. No doubt both were selected on the basis of the race, ethnicity, and gender but most of all on their allegiance to the radical leftist Democrat agenda that advances authoritarian globalism at the expense of individual freedom?

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