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Crime & Justice

Meet the 4 new judges at LA's Superior Court




In November, voters in Los Angeles elected four new judges to the L.A. Superior Court. They will serve 6-year-terms and be sworn in January 2, 2017. Clockwise from top left: Debra Archuleta, Susan Jung Townsend, Kim Nguyen and Efrain Matthew Aceves.
In November, voters in Los Angeles elected four new judges to the L.A. Superior Court. They will serve 6-year-terms and be sworn in January 2, 2017. Clockwise from top left: Debra Archuleta, Susan Jung Townsend, Kim Nguyen and Efrain Matthew Aceves.

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This election, voters in L.A. County elected four new judges to join the Superior Court. The judges will serve 6-year-terms and will be sworn in January 2, 2017.

The Superior Court is the largest trial court in the nation, with 482 judges overseeing both civil and criminal issues. Judges hear cases on family law, juvenile delinquency, mental health, traffic violations and more. According to the Court's annual report, the system completed nearly 3,000 jury trials (or 2,961), last year.

Here are the four new judges:

Debra Archuleta, Office No. 11

Debra Archuleta is one of the four new judges voted to the bench of the L.A. Superior Court. She will be sworn in on January 2, 2017 to a 6-year-term.
Debra Archuleta is one of the four new judges voted to the bench of the L.A. Superior Court. She will be sworn in on January 2, 2017 to a 6-year-term.
Dorian Merina/KPCC

What first drew you to a career in law?

"I knew as a young teenager that I wanted to be an attorney and I really wanted to be trial lawyer. … It looked very exciting to me to be a trial lawyer and to be a woman doing that kind of work. I’ve always had a passion for justice so I decided to work my way through college and law school and I’ve committed myself to seeking justice for victims for the last 26 years as a prosecutor. It’s been a very rewarding career and I’ve learned a lot about how people suffer and how they come through the other side of that and carry their experiences with them."

View the full profile of Debra Achuleta.

Efrain Matthew Aceves, Office No. 42

Efrain Matthew Aceves is one of the four new judges voted to the bench of the L.A. Superior Court. She will be sworn in on January 2, 2017 to a 6-year-term.
Efrain Matthew Aceves is one of the four new judges voted to the bench of the L.A. Superior Court. She will be sworn in on January 2, 2017 to a 6-year-term.
Dorian Merina/KPCC

What first drew you to a career in law?

"I was born in Mexico and my mother came to the United States when I was 5 years old....When she was living in Mexico, my father had filed for divorce. He was already living in the United States. One of my uncles was an attorney in Mexico, and he basically told my mother that his perception was that she would get a fair shake if she came to the United States. Even though the L.A. County courts didn't have any jurisdiction over her, she decided to come. That's how I ended up coming, and so that was my first experience. It's a full circle to be able to be here. To come to this country for that reason...I want to be a part of that."

View the full profile of Efrain Matthew Aceves.

Susan Jung Townsend, Office No. 85

Susan Jung Townsend is one of the four new judges voted to the bench of the L.A. Superior Court. She will be sworn in on January 2, 2017 to a 6-year-term.
Susan Jung Townsend is one of the four new judges voted to the bench of the L.A. Superior Court. She will be sworn in on January 2, 2017 to a 6-year-term.
Dorian Merina/KPCC

Why did you first get into law and why did you become an attorney?

"I was extremely interested from a very young age in law. My very first memory is when my parents first came to this country in the mid-1960s. I was actually born here, but as early as the age of 3 or 4, my father was involved in a lawsuit for suing a car dealership for selling him a car that didn't work well. And my first experience was going to court with my parents... I just remember as a child looking at the legal process for the first time and how this judge presided over all these parties that were present, with interpreters and jurors. It just made for such a vivid memory of the kind of legal agent I would want to be."

View the full profile of Susan Jung Townsend.

Kim Nguyen, Office No. 158

Kim L. Nguyen is one of the four new judges voted to the bench of the L.A. Superior Court. She will be sworn in on January 2, 2017 to a 6-year-term.
Kim L. Nguyen is one of the four new judges voted to the bench of the L.A. Superior Court. She will be sworn in on January 2, 2017 to a 6-year-term.
Dorian Merina/KPCC

In your view, what makes a good judge?

"I think a judge needs to be humble. I think a judge needs to understand that he or she doesn't know everything and has the opportunity with every single case, to hear what the parties are saying, to hear what the attorneys are saying, and to learn as much as possible in that case. Second, the judge needs to be hard working. You need to come in prepared every single day having read the briefs, having understood the issues, having researched the issues, and really allowing the litigants and the lawyers to maximize their time in the courtroom with you as prepared as possible. Third, I think a judge needs to be absolutely fair and equitable at all times. Judges have to apply the law to the facts fairly, impartially, and with an eye towards making sure that justice is served."

View the full profile for Kim Nguyen.

Related: Meet the LA County judge candidates