Jesus Bernal, Riverside attorney, clears hurdle for federal bench

Jesus Bernal
Jesus Bernal
Courtesy Jesus Bernal

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Riverside is one step closer to getting a new federal judge: The Senate Judiciary Committee today approved the nomination of Jesus Bernal.

President Barack Obama nominated Bernal for a seat on the federal bench this spring. At his confirmation hearing, California Democrat Barbara Boxer introduced Bernal to her Senate colleagues as the oldest son of two factory workers. She says his parents Gilberto and Martha would tell young Jesus and his siblings, “you study, we work.” Boxer says their aspirations were realized as all five of their children attended college. Yale and then Stanford law school, to be exact, for Bernal, who currently heads the federal public defender’s office in Riverside.

Answering questions at his confirmation hearing, Bernal told the Judiciary Committee a judge should show dignity and respect, but empathy has no role in the judicial process. What determines who wins or loses, he said, "is the law and the facts as applied to the law."

Bernal's nomination for the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California now goes to the full Senate. No date has been set for that vote.

Riverside County has about a fourth of the population in the judicial district, but only one federal judge is currently handling cases in the Inland Empire.