Lesbian CA appellate Justice Slough to retire

  • by Cynthia Laird, News Editor
  • Wednesday June 28, 2023
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California appellate court Justice Marsha Slough has announced she will retire in August. Photo: Courtesy CA Courts Newsroom
California appellate court Justice Marsha Slough has announced she will retire in August. Photo: Courtesy CA Courts Newsroom

Less than a week after a gay man was confirmed to a seat on California's Fourth District Court of Appeal, the lesbian justice who has been serving there since 2016 announced she would retire in August.

Justice Marsha Slough announced her retirement June 28. She has served as a judge for two decades, a news release from the California Courts stated.

As the Bay Area Reporter previously reported, on June 23 San Diego County Superior Court Judge David Rubin was confirmed and sworn in to a seat on the Fourth District Court of Appeal, Division One. Slough serves on Division Two of the appellate court that is based in San Diego. She was the first out LGBTQ person on that appellate court.

"Justice Slough has created an extraordinary legacy through her distinguished career as an appellate justice and her invaluable service on the Judicial Council," stated California Supreme Court Chief Justice Patricia Guerrero. "As a member of the council, she was instrumental in shaping policies and practices that further access to justice, improve court operations, and enhance public trust in our judiciary. Her legacy of excellence, fairness, and commitment to justice has made a lasting impact on the lives of Californians and will continue to inspire us all."

During her time on the council, Slough has chaired its Executive and Planning Committee and played a key role in drafting emergency court rules during the COVID-19 pandemic, the release stated. Those emergency rules helped curb the spread of COVID-19 in California jails, reduced evictions, and foreclosures, and encouraged the use of remote technology to maintain access to the courts.

During her tenure on Fourth District court, Justice Slough authored 454 opinions, including 55 published opinions.

"The past 20 years has afforded me the unique privilege of observing firsthand the importance of the rule of law and the true value in a commitment to justice for all," Slough stated. "I am grateful and fortunate to have had the opportunity to participate in the work of the Judicial Council and to have worked closely with Chief Justice [Tani] Cantil-Sakauye and, for only a short time, Chief Justice Guerrero. They represent the true definition of strong, decisive, focused leaders — who lead always from the desire to make the judicial branch better for all. I am also grateful to Governors [Jerry] Brown and [Gavin] Newsom for their commitment to bringing diversity to the bench throughout this state — it has made us better."

Slough first joined the bench in 2003 when former governor Gray Davis appointed her to the San Bernardino County Superior Court. She served as presiding judge of the juvenile court, then assistant presiding judge of the court before twice being appointed as presiding judge. Brown elevated Justice Slough to the appellate court in 2015, and she was confirmed to that position on February 22, 2016.

Cantil-Sakauye, who stepped down as California's chief justice in early January, praised Slough's service.

"From presiding judge to justice, Justice Slough combined astute policies with compassionate leadership," Cantil-Sakauye stated. "She was instrumental in leading and building the most critical, sensitive, and impactful policies of the Judicial Council. In all her responsibilities, and they were myriad, she brought her analytical brilliance and collaborative nature. Justice Slough has worked tirelessly to improve justice in California, and she has overwhelmingly succeeded in that endeavor."

Millicent Tidwell, acting administrative director of the Judicial Council, noted that Slough is held in high regard by council staff.

"Her tremendous ability to marshal justice stakeholders and build consensus has been integral to advancing major initiatives to improve courts statewide and making significant impacts in so many areas, from technology to pretrial reform," Tidwell stated.

Slough stated that her last day will be August 31.

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