Patricia Guerrero - Photo courtesy of California Courts website

Patricia Guerrero was sworn in Monday to become the first Latina to serve on the California Supreme Court.

Formerly an appellate judge in San Diego, Guerrero was confirmed to serve on the state’s highest court through a unanimous vote last week by the Commission on Judicial Appointments. She will fill the vacancy left by Associate Justice Mariano-Florentino Cuéllar, who left the bench last October.

Guerrero was sworn in by Gov. Gavin Newsom on Monday afternoon during a ceremony in Sacramento, during which she said it was “an honor and a privilege” to assume her new role as California Supreme Court Associate Justice.

Recalling her roots as a daughter of immigrants from the Imperial Valley, Guerrero said, “I did not get here alone. I am here because of the courage, sacrifices and the struggles of my parents and my grandparents. They came to this country knowing that it would not be easy for them. But like so many others, they came here with hope. Hope of a brighter future for their children.”

Among those praising Guerrero’s legal acumen and recognizing the historic nature of the appointment was U.S. Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor, who also made history as the first Latina U.S. Supreme Court justice.

In a letter to Guerrero, Sotomayor wrote, “Your appointment is an important reminder of how far we have come and of how far we have yet to go. I know you will make our country proud. You already have.”

Guerrero has served at the Fourth District Court of Appeal, Division One in San Diego since 2017. Prior to her appointment to the appellate court, Guerrero was a San Diego Superior Court judge, as well as a former Assistant U.S. Attorney in the Southern District of California.

A report by the Commission on Judicial Nominees Evaluation found she was “exceptionally well qualified” and “universally lauded for her superior intellect, clear writing, judicial temperament, work ethic, and compassion.”

When Newsom nominated Guerrero in February, State Sen. María Elena Durazo, D-Los Angeles, who chairs the California Latino Legislative Caucus, also lauded the move.

“Today California makes history,” Durazo said at the time. “… Latinas make up nearly 20 percent of California’s population, but we are underrepresented in nearly every industry, including the California Judiciary. When Latinas are absent from this critical branch of government, our experiences and perspectives are excluded, and this ripples throughout our communities in so many other ways. Access to justice will be better served for all Californians.”

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