California Gov. Jerry Brown. Credit: Jason Doiy/ The Recorder

Gov. Jerry Brown on Friday once again tapped his own staff and the ranks of big law to fill some of the few remaining open seats on the state’s trial bench.

Joginder Dhillon, a senior advisor to Brown, and Peter Southworth, the chief deputy legal affairs secretary in the governor’s office, both got nods to the Sacramento County Superior Court as part of the governor’s latest batch of 13 trial court appointments.

Brown’s legal affairs secretary, Peter Krause, and deputy legal affairs secretary Gabriel Sanchez were both recently confirmed to posts on state appellate courts. Late last month, the governor named deputy legal affairs secretary, Daniel Calabretta, to the Sacramento County bench.

The latest appointments appear to leave less than 20 open trial court positions around the state. According to the most recent available data from the Judicial Council of California, there were 32 vacant superior court judgeships as of Nov. 30.

Bay Area appointees include Eumi K. Lee, a clinical professor at the UC Hastings College of the Law since 2005, who was named to the Alameda County Superior Court. Lee, who was an associate at the firm then known as Keker & Van Nest from 2002 to 2005 and at now-defunct Thelen Reid & Priest from 2000 to 2001, is the first Korean-American judge appointed to the Alameda County bench.

Wendy McGuire Coats, who has been a partner and appellate counsel at Fisher & Phillips since 2016, was tapped for the Contra Costa County bench. She was previously a name partner at McGuire Coats from 2010 to 2016 and an associate at now-defunct Howrey LLP from 2006 to 2009.

Audra Ibarra, who been counsel at California Appellate Law Group since 2012, was named to the Santa Clara County Superior Court. Ben Feuer, the chair of the California Appellate Law Group, said, “We are delighted at her appointment and are certain she’s going to do a phenomenal job.”

A list of all 13 of Friday’s appointments follows.


Read Governor Brown’s full announcement here:




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