1st District Court of Appeals Justice Martin Jenkins. (Photo: Jason Doiy / ALM)

Martin Jenkins, a judge who has logged 30 years on both state and federal courts, is stepping down from the bench to help shape California’s future judiciary.

Gov. Gavin Newsom on Monday named Jenkins, an associate justice on the First District Court of Appeal, his judicial appointments secretary. The post gives Jenkins the primary role in vetting candidates for vacancies in the state’s 1,800-judge appellate and trial courts.

A San Francisco native, Jenkins, 65, has served on the First District since 2008. He previously was a judge on the U.S. District Court for California’s Northern District for 11 years. His résumé also includes stints on the Alameda County Superior Court and the former Oakland Municipal Court.

Jenkins once seemed destined for a future profession: football. A player at Santa Clara University—also Newsom’s alma mater—Jenkins signed very briefly as a defensive back with the Seattle Seahawks. He left the team after a couple of preseason games, before, he said, the Seahawks could cut him.

“That decision was going to be made for me,” Jenkins told The Recorder in 2009. “I wasn’t that great an athlete.”

A long career in the law ensued, including three years as an Alameda County prosecutor and three more as a trial attorney with the U.S. Department of Justice.

Jenkins’s move from the federal bench to the state appellate court in 2009 generated speculation that he was being primed for appointment to the California Supreme Court. But Jenkins said he was just seeking a different perspective on the law, not the high court.

Jenkins and Newsom will have to wait before making significant numbers of judicial appointments. Former Gov. Jerry Brown filled almost all court vacancies before he left office last week.

Jenkins’ appointment does not require Senate confirmation. He’ll earn $185,004 in his new position, a pay cut from his current appellate court salary.

Newsom on Monday also announced the hiring of three new deputy legal affairs secretaries. Kelli Evans, the former associate director of the ACLU of Northern California, has served as special assistant to Attorney General Xavier Becerra for the past two years. Shubhra Shivpuri is a deputy attorney general in the attorney general’s civil rights enforcement section. Rei Onishi was a deputy legal affairs secretary for the last two years of the Brown administration.


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