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Peers Praise Alameda Judge Trina Thompson’s Rise to Federal Court

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Edward Henderson | California Black Media

Judge Trina L. Thompson of the Superior Court of Alameda County, who is African American, was confirmed to the United States District Court for the Northern District of California.

The United States Senate voted 51-44 to confirm Thompson, who President Biden nominated.

Appointed under Article III of the U.S. Constitution, federal district court judges serve lifetime appointments upon good behavior.

“All of us in the Northern District are grateful and excited to have Judge Thompson join us,” said Chief Judge Richard Seeborg of the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California.

“She brings a wealth of experience as a highly regarded trial judge, which will be most welcome on our very busy Court,” he said.

Since taking office, the Biden Administration has made it a priority to diversify federal courts.

“Our current federal bench is not representative of the diversity of our democracy,” said U.S. Sen. Alex Padilla (D-CA) in remarks on the floor last week. “We have a lot of work to do to rebuild a judiciary that deserves the faith of the American people.”

More than 70% of President Biden’s 92 district and appellate court picks have been women, and a vast majority have been people of color.

Prior to her appointment, Judge Thompson served as a juvenile court commissioner, a criminal defense attorney in private practice for nearly a decade, and as an assistant public defender as well. Thompson holds the distinction of being the first African American woman elected to the Superior Court of Alameda County.

In addition to her work on the bench, she serves as a professor at the University of California, Berkeley, where she received her bachelor’s degree in 1983, and her juris doctor from the university’s School of Law in 1986.

Thompson has contributed to educating the public and her peers about equity and equal rights under the law. Her work contrasted the tenets of American law with the history and contemporary realities of discrimination when she participated in the ‘Continuing the Dialogue’ series for the Center for Judicial Education and Research Division (CJER) of the Judicial Council of California. She discussed the history of housing discrimination in California effected through illegal racial covenants, and the Fair Housing Act of 1968. She has also presented a CJER lecture on wrongful convictions and the learnings judicial officers can adapt to prevent them.

Thompson is a member of the Association of African American California Judicial Officers, Inc., (AAACJO). The organization was established in 2017 to address the professional interests of Black state and federal judicial officers presiding in the California. The membership includes Superior Court Judges and Commissioners, Appellate Court Justices, Administrative Law Judges and State Bar Court Judges.

“Given her body of work and her dedication to the community, it is clear Judge Thompson will be an invaluable asset in her new role as District Judge of the United States District Court for the Northern District of California,” the AAACJO said in a statement congratulating Thompson.


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