The Governor has appointed the first Latina judge to sit on the Kern County Superior Court for California’s Superior Court.
Wendy Avila was appointed by Governor Gavin Newsom, along with 11 others for the California Superior Court. Avila, 52, said she was shocked and happily overwhelmed when she found out.
“It was the greatest call of my life,” Avila said about the phone call she received to find out of her appointment.
Avila has 21 years of experience. She served as a Deputy District Attorney at the Kern County District Attorney’s Office for 18 years and has been the Senior Assistant Inspector General at the Office of the Inspector General since 2017. She was also an Adjunct Lecturer at California State University, Bakersfield from 2008 to 2016.
She attended the University of California, Santa Barbara for her undergraduate studies and then the University of San Francisco School of Law.
Avila said getting to this appointment was a long process but appreciates how everything worked out. She had first applied in 2014, but it did not happen. She did not reconsider reapplying until a fellow colleague prompted her to try again.
She chose to enter the legal field because she was attracted to service, Avila said. Throughout her life, she found ways to contribute to her community. As an adult, she was one of the founders of Latina Leaders, a local nonprofit organization with a goal to provide local young women leadership. Their motto is: “If you can see it, you can be it!” It highlights their goal to inspire this underrepresented group of ladies and encourage them to believe in their true capabilities to achieve amazing things.
Avila said she sees her appointment as a judge now as a great lesson and a culmination of her personal journey. She said her skills of listening, understanding, and awareness will assist her ability to properly apply the law to the facts of each case she presides. She will be assigned to the juvenile courts.
Avila’s life experiences have impacted her life and her career path, she said. She wants to live her life as a tribute to her family. Avila was adopted at 3 months old. Growing up, she was primarily raised by a single mother, living below the poverty line, and her mother always expressed the importance of helping others. Her brother was murdered in Kern County at only age 23. Becoming a financial supporter to help her family became a necessity. Additionally, she lost both of her adopted parents early on to terminal illness.
Through these trials, she has learned the importance of having control of how one reacts to circumstances and to define the situation, instead of letting it define oneself.
“You can either be resentful or use it towards your benefit,” Avila said. “There are so many things in your life you cannot choose but you do get to choose how you respond as an individual and the way you approach life.”
Governor Newsom also appointed Bernard C. Barmann Jr., 54, of Bakersfield and Jason W. Webster, 47, of Tehachapi to sit of Kern’s Superior Court.