SACRAMENTO — Ethan Schulman, an appellate specialist who successfully defended state law allowing undocumented University of California students to pay cheaper in-state tuition, has been appointed to the San Francisco Superior Court.

Gov. Jerry Brown announced the appointment of Schulman, senior counsel at San Francisco’s Crowell & Moring, on Thursday. He replaces Judge Ellen Chaitin, who retired in November.

Schulman represented the UC Regents in a politically charged challenge to the state’s practice of allowing undocumented California high school graduates to pay discounted resident-tuition rates at state universities. In its 2010 decision in Martinez v. Regents of the University of California, the state Supreme Court unanimously backed the regents, holding that the benefit did not violate federal law.

Schulman also successfully defended UC-Hastings College of Law against a constitutional challenge to the school’s decision not to recognize a Christian student club that did not admit gays and lesbians. On a 5-4 vote, the U.S. Supreme Court sided with the law school in Christian Legal Society v. Martinez. “What most motivated me about many of these cases was their public impact,” Schulman said in a brief interview Thursday.

“I see sitting as a judge as an opportunity to broaden that commitment to public service and to spend more time engaging with parties and litigants and counsel instead of sitting in an office staring at a computer screen,” he said.

Schulman was one of 18 trial court judges named to local benches by Brown on Thursday. Their ranks include seven women as well as 16 Democrats and two Republicans.

The other appointees are:

• Vanessa Vallarta, Salinas city attorney, to the Monterey County Superior Court.

• Steven Lapham, an assistant U.S. attorney in California’s Eastern District, to the Sacramento County Superior Court.

• Sonora solo Kate Segerstrom to the Tuolumne County Superior Court.

• Public defender Michael Sheltzer to the Tulare County Superior Court.

• Khymberli Apaloo, a court commissioner, to the San Bernardino County Superior Court.

• Deputy county counsel Sunshine Sykes to the Riverside County Superior Court.

• Assistant district attorney Thomas Glazier; Jones Day partner Martha Gooding; and Irvine attorney Robert Knox to the Orange County Superior Court.

• Deputy DA Deborah Brazil; Munger Tolles & Olson partner Carl Moor; deputy alternate public defender Connie Quinones; appellate court attorney Armen Tamzarian; deputy alternate public defender Sergio Tapia; deputy public defender Lee Tsao, deputy DA Frank Tavelman and court commissioner Joel Wallenstein to the Los Angeles County Superior Court.

Contact the reporter at cmiller@alm.com.