Blanca A. Banuelos, an advocate for the rights of farmworkers and sexual assault victims, was sworn-in Friday as a San Joaquin County Superior Court judge.
Banuelos was director the Migrant Unit at California Rural Legal Assistance, Inc., a nonprofit that provides free legal assistance to low-income people in rural counties, before Gov. Gavin Newsom appointed her to the court in December 2019.
“I know that I bring a different and unique perspective to the bench,” Banuelos said. “This is necessary. The bench is a stronger bench the more reflective it is of the community it serves.”
Colleagues described Banuelos as a hardworking and fierce advocate.
“She is whip-smart, hilarious and a quick learner,” Xapuri B. Villapudua, presiding judge of the court, said. “I’m proud to call her my Latina sister in robes.”
Banuelos is the fourth Latina to be appointed to the superior court bench, Villapudua said.
Banuelos is an expert in representing victims in sexual assault cases, Armando Villapudua, former president of the San Joaquin Bar Association’s board of governors, said.
Before joining California Rural Legal Assistance in 2004, Banuelos worked as a law clerk at the law offices of James S. Muller. She earned her law degree from Loyola Law School in 2003, and completed her undergraduate degree at UCLA.
Banuelos was raised in south Stockton, and graduated from Franklin High School.
Judge Robert Tucker Waters was also sworn-in as a judge of the superior court earlier this month.
Record reporter Aaron Leathley covers business, housing, and land use. She can be reached at [email protected] or on Twitter @LeathleyAaron. Support local news, subscribe to The Stockton Record at recordnet.com/subscribenow.