- LGBT JUDICIAL OFFICERS OF CALIFORNIA
- • Sixty-nine of the 1,703 members of the California trial and appellate courts, i.e., 4%, currently self-report as LGBT.
- • Statewide, there are 27 trial court judges and justices who currently self-report as lesbian, 37 as gay, 4 as bisexual, and 1 as transgender.
- • Three justices on the Court of Appeal, and one justice of the Supreme Court, currently self-report as LGBT.
We are the LGBT Judicial Officers of California (LGBT JOC), a section of the California Judges Association (CJA). Our members include court commissioners, trial court judges, administrative law judges, and appellate justices. While we are a relatively new section, the CJA itself was established in 1929 as a professional association representing the interests of the judiciary in the State of California. Many of the members of the LGBT JOC have held leadership positions in the International Association of LGBTQ+ judges over the past 30 years.
Are You Interested in Becoming a Judge?
The number of LGBT bench officers has increased dramatically over the last decade. Nonetheless, LGBT persons, and in particular LGBT persons of color, remain underrepresented among the California judiciary.
The Process for Becoming a Judge
Although it is possible to become a superior court judge by running for election, the vast majority of superior court judges in California are initially appointed to vacant positions by the Governor of the State of California. All appellate justices are appointed by the Governor. To retain their positions, all judges and justices must run for retention or re-election on a periodic basis.
The appointment process starts with the Judicial Appointment Application available on the Governor’s website. Every candidate is subject to a rigorous vetting and evaluation process that may include regional Judicial Selection Advisory Committees (JSACs) appointed by the Governor; the State Bar of California Commission on Judicial Nominees; and state and local bar associations who may conduct their own evaluations of the candidates. The appointments process is overseen by the Governor’s Judicial Appointments Secretary, currently Luis Cespedes who was appointed in December 2020. It is important to understand the process in order to have the best opportunity to put your best foot forward.
We Can Help
Each of our members has experience successfully navigating the process to become a bench officer in California, and some of our members have served or currently serve in the judicial vetting process. We welcome opportunities to meet with bar associations and LGBT professional organizations about the appointment process. We also provide individual mentorship to LGBT attorneys embarking on the appointment or election process. You can contact us at LGBT@caljudges.org.
Please direct any inquiries to LGBT@caljudges.org.