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San Diego appellate judge nominated as first Latina California Supreme Court justice

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KPBS Staff
The seal for the City of San Diego is pictured above in this undated photo.

An appellate justice in San Diego has been nominated by Gov. Gavin Newsom to serve on the California Supreme Court, which would make her the first Latina to ever serve on the state's highest court, it was announced Tuesday.

Patricia Guerrero, 50, is an Imperial Valley native who currently serves in the Fourth District Court of Appeal, Division One in San Diego. 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.

In a statement announcing the nomination, Newsom said, "Born and raised in the Imperial Valley by immigrant parents from Mexico, her extraordinary journey and nomination to serve as the first Latina Justice on the bench of our state's highest court is an inspiration to all of us and a testament to the California Dream's promise of opportunity for all to thrive, regardless of background or zip code."

Guerrero, a Democrat, would replace Associate Justice Mariano- Florentino Cuéllar, who left the bench last October.

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Her nomination must still be confirmed by the Commission on Judicial Appointments.

"I am deeply honored by this incredible opportunity to uphold the rule of law and make a positive impact on the lives of Californians across the state," said Guerrero. "If confirmed, I look forward to helping instill confidence in the equality and integrity of our judicial system while honoring the sacrifices of my immigrant parents and demonstrating to young people that anything is possible in our wonderful and diverse country."

State Sen. María Elena Durazo, D-Los Angeles, who chairs the California Latino Legislative Caucus, also lauded Newsom's nomination of Guerrero.

"Today California makes history," Durazo said in a statement. "... 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."