Judge Victor Rodriguez, a former counsel to four California Supreme Court justices and a member of the Alameda County bench, was confirmed Wednesday as a justice of the First District Court of Appeal, Division Three.

In a remote hearing of the Commission on Judicial Appointments, two current members of the state Supreme Court heaped praise on Rodriguez, who served as a staff attorney on the court for more than a decade.

“Victor is first and foremost committed to getting it right,” said Associate Justice Carol Corrigan, for whom Rodriguez served as a chambers attorney from 2013 to 2015. “He is balanced in his approach, and he never loses sight of the human aspect of every case. He is careful to honor both the demands of justice, and the rigors of precedent.”

Associate Justice Mariano-Florentino Cuéllar, who hired Rodriguez as his supervising staff attorney in 2015, noted his knack for “reading the room.” 

“He had a good sense of when somebody had something to say that had not quite been said yet, some hesitation about an outcome,” Cuéllar said. “And I always admired that, and think it will serve him well in an appellate context. He’s going to draw people out.”

Rodriguez’s appointment was approved unanimously by Commission on Judicial Appointments members Chief Justice Tani Cantil-Sakauye, Attorney General Rob Bonta and Presiding Justice J. Anthony Kline of the First District Court of Appeal. Rodriguez will fill the vacancy created by the elevation of Justice Teri Jackson to presiding justice of the First District’s Division Five.

A native of Livermore, Rodriguez said his appointment to the Alameda County Superior Court in 2018 had brought him full circle. As a boy his parents had worked as cleaners at the then-municipal court in Livermore.

After graduating from UC Berkeley School of Law in 2003, Rodriguez became a staff attorney at the Mexican American Legal Defense and Education Fund in Los Angeles for two years. He then clerked for U.S. District Judge Consuelo Marshall of the Central District of California. Rodriguez later joined the legal staff at the California Supreme Court, where he worked for Justices Carlos Moreno and Goodwin Liu in addition to Corrigan and Cuéllar.

In his three years as an Alameda County judge, Rodriguez has handled family law assignments and presided over the court’s new civil domestic violence department. He also served five months as a pro tem justice on the First District court.

The Commission on Judicial Nominees Evaluation rated Rodriguez as “qualified,” a lower ranking than those given to other recent Newsom appointees to appellate courts. In its recommendation letter, the commission cited Rodriguez’s intellect, strong communication skills and his “exemplary professional reputation.” But the commission said the judge “would benefit from more practical experience in the trial court.”

While not addressing the commission’s rating directly, Rodriguez said he would bring collegiality and a broad range of experience to the San Francisco appellate court.

“I would often tell some of my colleagues, having a family law assignment is the closest thing to being at the California Supreme Court that you can get in superior court,” Rodriguez told the commission. “You deal with immigration issues and family issues, you deal with issues of bankruptcy and immigration. You deal with criminal issues, and you do it all under very tight pressure.”

“I think all of that will significantly inform this new career, or this new path, this new chapter if I’m fortunate enough to be confirmed,” Rodriguez said.