Wednesday, 19 January 2022 16:17

Justice Laurie Earl Makes History By Joining The 3rd District Court of Appeal

Judge Earl was confirmed to a trial court.

After being unanimously confirmed by the Senate, lesbian Justice Laurie Earl was sworn in on January 6 to serve as a judge for California’s 3rd District Court of Appeal. She becomes only the fifth openly LGBTQ person currently serving in a state’s court of appeals and only the tenth woman on the 3rd District court bench.

A look back at the career of Laurie Earl

Laurie Earl was born in San Jose, California, but she spent most of her childhood near Modesto. After earning her degree from UC Berkeley, she earned a law degree at Lincoln Law School in Sacramento.

With her appointment to the 3rd District Court of Appeal, Earl brings a wealth of experience that includes having joined the Sacramento County Public Defender’s office in 1989 as an assistant public defender and having worked as a deputy district attorney at the Sacramento County District Attorney’s office between 1995 and 2004.

“I learned a great deal as an assistant public defender in just human nature,” said Earl. “I represented people who were, quite frankly, scared.”

In 2005, she became a judge on the Sacramento County Superior Court, where she has also served as presiding judge.

Her dream came true

For the last few years, Judge Earl has been working towards her dream of becoming a judge on a court of appeal in California.

She applied several times, first to former governors Jerry Brown without success, and then to Governor Gavin Newsom who appointed her last November to fill the vacancy created by the retirement of Justice M. Kathleen Butz.

Today, this woman’s determination has paid off because here she is at 60 years old and now an appellate judge for the 3rd District court bench!

January 6

One of her sons wrote: “January 6, 2021 rioters broke through the glass doors to gain access to our nation’s capital. January 6, 2022, Laurie M. Earl broke through the glass ceiling to gain access to the California Court of Appeal,” recounted Earl. “I accept my role in history as being first and am honored to claim January 6 not as that day but as my day.”

“Today, of all days, January 6 is now a date that needs to make room for the pride and honor I feel of being here today,” she added.

She continued: “I am proud of who I am, and all of who I am has informed and guided me as a jurist. I am a woman, I am a wife, I am a mother, I am a daughter, a sister, a friend,” said Earl. “I am a lawyer, I am a criminal defense attorney, I am a prosecutor, a teacher, a student, and a trial judge. And, yes, I am a lesbian.

“Each part of who I am has given me perspective on the bench and, more importantly, has given me what I consider the most important personal attributes a judge should have: humility and the ability to always remember where you came from.”


The nomination of Justice Laurie M. Earl is a victory for all LGBTQ women. With this new role, she continues breaking barriers in pursuit of equal rights and justice for people who come before her court. Congratulations to our newly elected Appellate Judge!

Top photo from the Sacramento state college of continuing education

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