Stanford Law Professor Confirmed to State High Court

Stanford University law professor Mariano-Florentino Cuéllar was unanimously confirmed to a post on the California Supreme Court by a state commission at a hearing in San Francisco this morning.

Cuellar, 41, who was born in Mexico, was nominated to the court by Gov. Jerry Brown in July. He has been teaching at Stanford since 2001 and is an expert in administrative, criminal and international law.

The nomination was confirmed by the state Commission on Judicial Appointments, made up of Chief Justice Tani Cantil-Sakauye, Attorney General Kamala Harris and Court of Appeal Justice Joan Dempsey Klein.

Cuellar will now go before California voters on the Nov. 4 ballot for approval. If approved, he will replace retiring Justice Marvin Baxter and will begin a 12-year term on the high court on Jan. 5.

A State Bar committee that evaluates judicial candidates gave Cuellar its highest rating, “exceptionally well qualified.”

Cuellar is Brown’s second appointment to the current court. The governor’s first appointment was also a law professor, University of California at Berkeley constitutional law expert Goodwin Liu.

Brown also has a third appointment to make to the seven-member court, to replace Justice Joyce Kennard, who retired in April.

If approved by voters, Cuellar will be the only Hispanic judge now on the court, which is headquartered in San Francisco. The court’s most recent Hispanic member, Carlos Moreno, retired in 2011 and is now serving as U.S. ambassador to Belize.

Cuéllar was born in Matamoros, Mexico, and as a youth walked across the border each day to attend a Catholic school in neighboring Brownsville, Texas.

After his father got a teaching job in Calexico, Cuellar moved there with his family at age 14 and graduated from Calexico High School. He earned his undergraduate degree from Harvard University, his law degree from Yale University and a Ph.D. in political science from Stanford.

Cuellar is married to a federal judge, U.S. District Judge Lucy Koh of San Jose.

Julia Cheever, Bay City News

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