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Public Defender ‘Grateful’ for Newsom’s Appointment as Fresno Judge

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Gov. Gavin Newsom appointed Mary Vasquez as a new Fresno County judge on Friday, July 28, 2023. (GV Wire Composite/Paul Marshall)
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Gov. Gavin Newsom has appointed another public defender to a Fresno County judgeship.

It’s Mary Vasquez, 34, of Prather, and she’s succeeding Rosemary McGuire, who retired in January.

I was frankly very surprised and lost for words. And I’m just so grateful for the appointment,” Vasquez told GV Wire after learning of Newsom’s appointment on Friday.

Her soon-to-be-former boss praised Vasquez.

“She is one of the hardest working people I have had the pleasure of supervising. She is bright, articulate, level-headed, and compassionate. She is always 10 steps ahead of everyone else,” Fresno County Public Defender Antoinette Taillac said.

From Public Defender to Judge

Vasquez, who has worked in the Public Defender’s Office since 2013, is the Chief Defense Attorney.

“I grew up watching the impact and the ability the public defender’s had on the community. And I thought it was a great opportunity to also … connect with people and offer them help whenever possible,” Vasquez said as to why she became a public defender.

Others local judges with a public defender background appointed by Newsom include Stephanie Negin, David Munoz, Irene Luna, and Charles Lee.

“I think the governor’s trend of appointing qualified attorneys from the Public Defender’s Office to the Fresno County Superior Court is exciting and refreshing,” Taillac said.

“I think the governor realizes the importance of appointing people to the bench that reflect the community that we serve and that can provide a different perspective. It’s important to have a well-rounded, diverse, and balanced bench. These last few appointments are helping to achieve this.”

Sierra High, UC Merced Grad

Vasquez grew up in Prather, attending Sierra High School. She received her associate’s degree at West Hills Community College in Lemoore, and then graduated in 2008 from UC Merced with a BA in psychology.

She earned her juris doctorate from the San Diego-based California Western School of Law.

“I graduated from law school early, and as soon as I was 10 years in, I decided to put in my application for the judicial position. And so I just kind of follow that track,” Vasquez said.

Her resume includes working briefly in private practice at Walters & Moshrefi in Fresno.

Vasquez is a registered Democrat. She would be up for election in 2026. Judges earn $231,174 in base salary.

Newsom has now appointed 13 of the 47 judges in Fresno County.

Newsom Also Makes Merced, Kern Judicial Appointments

David Hood

Newsom also appointed David Hood to the Merced County Superior Court. He previously served as an attorney with the Stanislaus County Superior Court and with Merced County.

And, Tanya Richard has been appointed to the Kern County Superior Court. Richard has served as an assistant public defender at the Kern County Public Defender’s Office since 2022.

Newsom appointed 17 judges on Friday. Learn about them at this link.

Curiosity drives David Taub. The award-winning journalist might be shy, but feels mighty with a recorder in his hand. He doesn't see it his job to "hold public officials accountable," but does see it to provide readers (and voters) the information needed to make intelligent choices. Taub has been honored with several writing awards from the California News Publishers Association. He's just happy to have his stories read. Joining GV Wire in 2016, Taub covers politics, government and elections, mainly in the Fresno/Clovis area. He also writes columns about local eateries (Appetite for Fresno), pro wrestling (Off the Bottom Rope), and media (Media Man). Prior to joining the online news source, Taub worked as a radio producer for KMJ and PowerTalk 96.7 in Fresno. He also worked as an assignment editor for KCOY-TV in Santa Maria, California, and KSEE-TV in Fresno. He has also worked behind the scenes for several sports broadcasts, including the NCAA basketball tournament, and the Super Bowl. When not spending time with his family, Taub loves to officially score Fresno Grizzlies games. Growing up in the San Francisco Bay Area, Taub is a die-hard Giants and 49ers fan. He graduated from the University of Michigan with dual degrees in communications and political science. Go Blue! You can contact David at 559-492-4037 or at Send an Email

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