IN THE STEREOT YPICAL IMAGINING
of the high-court judge, the honorable gavel holder sits menacing and
omnipotent, reveling in each and
every opportunity to pound the stand
and seal an unfortunate fate.
This depiction is of course absurd,
but the sentiment stems from a deeper
truth: judges hold tremendous power.
It is a position of incredible gravity,
as a judge is responsible for ensuring
social justice as well as public safety.
Yet true to the great responsibility
of judges like Lisa Rodriguez, Warren ’91,
often those presiding are not so much
serving to punish, but upholding a duty to
help the very individuals who find their
way into their courtroom.
After 17 years working as a deputy in the
district attorney’s office, Rodriguez was
recently appointed to the San Diego County
Superior Court in March 2015. While
the new position is a fitting indication of
Rodriguez’s admirable career, she never
believed she would find herself working
anywhere near a court of law when she
first came to UC San Diego in 1986.
“I came in there—believe it or not—
initially intending to go into biomedical
engineering. By the end of my first
quarter I was pretty convinced that
would not be the case,” Rodriguez says.
Rodriguez refocused her ambitions
toward public policy, working toward
a degree in communications and
participating in campus-wide student
council. After graduation, Rodriguez
took a year to help with key political
campaigns while she determined her
exact career path. It was advice from a
friend’s father that led her to law school
and, ultimately, the discovery of purpose.
AFTER AN INTERNSHIP in the San
Diego public defender’s office, Rodriguez
then served as a deputy with the City
Attorney, and likewise in the District
Attorney’s Office. Upon the announcement
of Rodriguez’s appointment as judge,
District Attorney Bonnie Dumanis
remarked, “DDA Rodriguez has gone
above and beyond, distinguishing herself
as a well-respected leader in our office. […]
Our loss is absolutely the bench’s gain.”
BY BRANDON YU, ’ 16
Lisa Rodriguez,’91, takes the
bench to make a positive impact.
HERE COMES THE JUDGE
Lisa Rodriguez, ’91, continues a
career in the justice system with
her recent appointment to the
San Diego Superior Court.
Photo: Taylor Sanderson, ’ 15