On December 11, 2012, the United States Senate confirmed President Barack Obama’s nomination of Jesus G. Bernal to serve as a federal district judge for the United States District Court for the Central District of California. Bernal, who was nominated by President Obama on April 25, 2012, will preside over matters in Riverside in the Court’s Eastern Division.
Bernal has worked in the Federal Public Defender’s Office for the Central District of California since 1996. From 1996 to 2006 he was a Deputy Federal Public Defender in the trial unit of the Los Angeles office, and from 2006 to May 2012 he served as the Directing Attorney of the Riverside branch office. Since May 2012, he has served as the Chief of the Los Angeles office’s trial unit. Before joining the Federal Public Defender’s Office, he worked for almost five years as a litigation associate at the law firm of Heller, Ehrman, White & McAuliffe LLP in Los Angeles, focusing primarily on complex civil litigation.
Bernal received his Bachelor of Arts degree in 1986 from Yale University, graduating cum laude, and his Juris Doctor degree in 1989 from Stanford University Law School, where he co-chaired the Stanford Latino Law Students Association and was awarded the R. Hunter Summers Trial Practice Award. After graduating from law school, he clerked for the Honorable David V. Kenyon of the United States District Court for the Central District of California from 1989 to 1991.
Bernal has also been active in bar associations and civic organizations, and is a member of the Board of Directors and has served as Secretary of the Inland Empire chapter of the Federal Bar Association. He also served on the Board of Directors of the Mexican American Bar Foundation and of Proyecto Pastoral at Dolores Mission, a non-profit organization that develops grassroots projects in education, leadership, and service in Boyle Heights.
Bernal fills the long-standing vacancy in the Eastern Division that arose when former district judge Stephen G. Larson resigned in November 2009 to go into private practice. The Central District of California has 28 authorized Article III judgeships, two of which remain vacant. Both vacancies are in the Court’s Western Division in Los Angeles, the first of which arose when District Judge Valerie Baker Fairbank assumed senior status in March 2012, followed by the second vacancy which arose when District Judge Jacqueline H. Nguyen was elevated to the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit in May 2012.
The Central District of California is comprised of the seven counties of Los Angeles, Orange, Riverside, San Bernardino, San Luis Obispo, Santa Barbara, and Ventura, and serves approximately 18.5 million people – nearly half the population of the state of California. Last year, over 16,500 cases were filed in the District.
District Court Executive