Four Blacks Among New Judicial Appointments—Increasing Courtroom Diversity in California

May 3, 2020 | Government

Featured Picture: Carlton G. Davis

S.E. WilliamsContributor

On Tuesday, April 28, 2020, California Governor Gavin Newsom made 14 new appointments to the position of Superior Court Judge, including two in Alameda County, three in Los Angeles County, two in Orange County, two in Sacramento County, one in San Bernardino County, two in San Mateo County, one in Santa Clara County, and one in Yolo County.

Each of California’s 58 counties has a single superior court within their jurisdictions. Superior Courts serve as the main trial court within each county’s jurisdiction. California voters in 1998 weighing in on a constitutional amendment, voted to approve Proposition 220, which enabled the jurisdictions to combine their municipal and superior courts into a single county superior court entity.

Included in the state’s 14 newly appointed justices are four African Americans, two men and two women. Among them are Joscelyn Jones of Brentwood, Lisa R. Washington of Diamond Bar, John C. Weller of Inglewood and Carlton G. Davis of Roseville.

Joscelyn Jones

Jones will serve as a judge in the Alameda County Superior Court. Jones has served as a judge pro tem in the Alameda County Superior Court Probate Division since 2016 and has been president, CEO, and attorney at Jones Torru Law P.C. since 1997. She was an adjunct professor at the John F. Kennedy University College of Law from 2006 to 2015.

Jones also served as assistant chief counsel at the Bayview Hunters Point Foundation in 2000. She was a deputy state public defender from 1995 to 1996 and a sole practitioner from 1992 to 1995. Jones was interim director of the Criminal Defender Program at the New College of California School of Law from 1992 to 1994. She was a deputy public defender at the Los Angeles County Public Defender’s Office from 1990 to 1991 and at the Contra Costa County Public Defender’s Office from 1983 to 1990.

Jones earned a Juris Doctor degree from the University of California, Los Angeles School of Law. She fills the vacancy created by the retirement of Judge Brenda Harbin-Forte. Jones is a Democrat.


Lisa R. Washington

Washington was appointed to serve as a judge in the Los Angeles County Superior Court. She has served as a deputy public defender at the Los Angeles County Public Defender’s Office since 1994. She was an associate at Dickson & Associates from 1993 to 1994 and at the Law Office of Leo James Terrell from 1992 to 1994. Washington was a legal redress coordinator for the N.A.A.C.P Legal Redress Committee in 1992.  She earned a Juris Doctor degree from Loyola Law School. She fills the vacancy created by the retirement of Judge Dan T. Oki. Washington is a Democrat. 


John C. Weller

Weller will now serve as a judge in the Los Angeles County Superior Court. He has served as a deputy district attorney at the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office since 2007. He served as a deputy district attorney at the Ventura County District Attorney’s Office from 2005 to 2007. He was a law clerk at the Law Offices of Caree Harper in 2005.

Weller earned a Juris Doctor degree from Loyola Law School. He fills the vacancy created by the retirement of Judge Gerald S. Rosenberg. Weller is a Democrat. 

Carlton G. Davis

Davis will serve as a judge in the Sacramento County Superior Court. Davis has served as a court commissioner at the Sacramento County Superior Court since 2017. He served as a deputy district attorney at the Sacramento County District Attorney’s Office from 2006 to 2017. Davis also served as a deputy district attorney at the Riverside County District Attorney’s Office from 2003 to 2006.

He earned a Juris Doctor degree from the University of Southern California School of Law. He fills the vacancy of a new position created on September 24, 2019. Davis is a Democrat.  

According to the California Black Media, until October 2019 when two other Black women– Terrie E. Roberts and Tricia J. Taylor—were appointed superior court justices in the state, only 19 of the state’s 58 counties had ever experienced Black women serving their counties in this capacity. Now, the state celebrates two additional Black female judicial appointments while also honoring the new Black male justices in the state, in addition to the others appointed by the governor during this round.

Other newly appointed justices include, Rebekah B. Evenson of Oakland to the Alameda Superior Court;  Justice Michelle E. DeCasas to the Los Angeles Superior Court;  Orange County Superior welcomes Court Justices Robert Gerard of New Port Beach and Thomas J. Lo of Lake Forest; joining Davis on the Sacramento Superior Court is Julie G. Yap of Sacramento; the San Bernardino Superior Court welcomes Shannon L. Faherty of Rancho Cucamonga; San Meteo welcomes Superior Court Justices Rachel E. Holt of Redwood City and Michael K. Wendler of Belmont; Brooke A. Blecher joins the Superior Court judicial team in Santa Clara County; and the Yolo County Superior Court welcomes newly appointed justice, Daniel M. Wolk of Davis, California.   

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