Judge Linda L. Lofthus has been named the San Joaquin County Superior Court’s presiding judge. Lofthus will be serving a two-year term, which began Jan. 1 and will end Dec. 31, 2019.
“It’s an honor to be doing it and I’m looking forward to it,” Lofthus said of her new appointment. “I’m excited. I hope I do a good job for my colleagues and for our county. It’s a very interesting job and the bottom line is that it’s just a honor to be asked to do it.”
According Lofthus, historically, in order to become presiding judge, someone has to be selected to be an assistant for the incoming presiding judge. Once their term is over, the assistant presiding judge is appointed to the position.
“I was honored to be asked by Judge (Jose) Alva two years ago to be his assistant. I asked Judge (Xapuri) Villapudua to be my assistant and we voted on it and approved it in the fall,” Lofthus said.
As presiding judge, Lofthus, a Lodi resident, will be responsible for acting in the best interest of the court, helping to set policy and assigning judges to courts along with a list of other responsibilities. She will also be working closely with the court’s chief executive officer.
“Some of your functions overlap and some of them don’t,” Lofthus said. “I deal with judges and she works with the staff.”
Lofthus said at this moment she doesn’t really have any imminent changes she would like to make during her term, because the recent transition to a new courthouse is complete.
“I don’t have any big changes in mind. The court runs really smoothly now, so I don’t plan to make any changes,” Lofthus said.
Lending a helping hand to her colleagues is what she looks forward to the most about her new role as presiding judge.
“There are a lot of issues coming up that you need to help your colleagues with. The best part of the job is helping your colleagues,” Lofthus said.
Lofthus said the biggest challenges are budgetary.
“We don’t get as much money as we need,” Lofthus said. “We don’t have as many judicial seats as we need to have for our population, and it’s a challenge to do what we do every day when we’re short staff.”
Keeping up with new legislation and propositions that get passed every year is also a challenge, Lofthus said.
According to Lofthus, the new laws and policies create more work for the court with no additional funds.
Lofthus was appointed to the San Joaquin Superior Court by Gov. Gray Davis in October of 2003. During her 14-year tenure on the bench, Lofthus has been assigned to both criminal and civil jury departments.
Lofthus began her legal career as a deputy public defender. Prior to her appointment to the bench, Lofthus was a certified specialist in family law. In addition to practicing family law, Lofthus also handled general civil, personal injury, and business cases, real estate transactions, banking matters and criminal defense.
Lofthus earned her doctorate degree from the New College of California School of Law and her undergraduate degree from California State University, Chico.