I have the honor of serving as a San Francisco Superior Court Judge. The people of my hometown bestowed this honor upon me in 2014 when they elected me into office. Before becoming a judge I was a lawyer and had the privilege of successfully representing hundreds of clients in civil and criminal cases. My career path has been driven by my desire to help people understand the complicated legal system. I ran for judge after thirteen years of practice because I realized that my ability to help would be greatly increased by being on the other side of the bench.
I continue to live in San Francisco with my wife and two children.
I am the first in my family to be born in the United States. My parents met in El Salvador and later immigrated to the US for a better life. The majority of both sides of their families followed in the years to come. Growing up surrounded by relatives that couldn't speak English exposed me to discrimination and taught me at an early age how important it is to be able to advocate for oneself. Dignity and justice, as I regretfully learned, is something we often have to fight for.
While I was always a happy kid, I did have my share of troubles at school. These were mostly due to my unwillingness to accept actual/perceived injustices or disrespect and my immaturity to properly deal with the same. My folks moved out of SF when I was entering high school for fear that my trouble would escalate. Moving to the suburbs didn't change me, but it did expose me to a new environment. At seventeen I realized that in order to not completely destroy my parents' pursuit of the American Dream I needed to do something - quick. I joined the Marine Corps Reserve which kept me in line for the rest of my senior year and I left for boot camp two days after high school graduation.
In addition to the Marines, I owe a tremendous debt of gratitude to my parents for setting a great example of hard work and integrity and to the Future Leaders of America, a Latino leadership program that took me in based on the unused potential they saw.
Upon my return from my initial military training, I enrolled at CSU, Sacramento. I obtained my bachelor's degree in Criminal Justice and I was on off to McGeorge School of Law on an academic scholarship. While in law school, I externed with La Raza Centro Legal in San Francisco, was a Real Property Law tutor, and served as the president of the Latino Law Students Association. I graduated from law school, with honors, in 2001.
I began my career as a civil litigation attorney with the law firm of Ropers, Majeski, Kohn & Bentley. In 2005, I opened my own practice which I kept until I was sworn in as a judge. I enjoyed practicing law, helped a lot of people, and was recognized with various distinctions such as being named in the criminal defense list of the Northern California Super Lawyers that recognizes the top 5% of lawyers in Northern California.
The biggest distinction of my career came on November 4, 2014 when the voters of San Francisco elected me to serve as Superior Court Judge. The campaign trail was tough, but interesting and educational. I enjoyed meeting people from all districts and neighborhoods. I met people with widely varying interests and political viewpoints and one thing remained constant - they all wanted a judge who would treat people with respect, work hard, and make fair decisions according to the law; not politics. I promised to be that judge and feel confident that I have been true to my word.
I thank you for taking the time to learn more about my background.
I currently preside over civil and criminal jury trials at our Civic Center Courthouse.
The San Francisco Court has 52 judicial positions. While other counties differ, our longstanding philosophy has been that judges can better serve the community when they are cross-trained in various areas of the law. According, most San Francisco judges will rotate assignments throughout their career.