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Two State Bar Court judges take bench in LA

By Amy Yarbrough
Staff Writer

The State Bar Court welcomed new judges to its hearing and review departments in Los Angeles last month.

Cynthia Valenzuela

The California Supreme Court appointed Cynthia Valenzuela to the position of hearing judge and elevated Judge William Kearse McGill, who has been with the court since 2015, to its review department. Both are serving six-year terms, beginning Nov. 1 until Oct. 31, 2022.

Valenzuela said she sought the position because she’s focused her career on protecting the public.

“I am thrilled and humbled that the California Supreme Court has entrusted me to uphold the critical task of a State Bar Court judge to balance public accountability with the profound effect that my decisions will have on the reputation and livelihood of those who appear before me,” she wrote in an email.

Valenzuela previously served as the Criminal Justice Act supervising attorney for the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California. There, she oversaw the federal indigent defense panel.

Her resume also includes stints as assistant U.S. attorney and trial attorney for the U.S. Department of Justice in Washington, D.C., and national director for litigation for the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund.

In her role with MALDEF, Valenzuela said she saw the direct impacts of notario fraud, where non-lawyers take advantage of people seeking immigration advice by charging fees for legal services they are not allowed to offer.

“The victims suffer direct economic impact and immigration consequences that engender distrust of attorneys,” she said.

Valenzuela earned her bachelor of arts degree from the University of Arizona and her law degree from the UCLA School of Law.

Jessica Bustos

McGill was presiding judge of the Division of Workers’ Compensation in Stockton prior to his appointment to the State Bar Court’s hearing department in May 2015. As a workers’ compensation judge, he oversaw the  processing of workers’ compensation claims and resolved disputes over claims for benefits. Prior to that, he was counsel for applicants and defense counsel in private practice.

McGill is a graduate of the McGeorge School of Law in Sacramento and Clemson University in South Carolina.