San Diego Superior Court Judge Amalia L. Meza Retires

Jul 16, 2021
Retirement of Judge Meza image

Judge Amalia L. Meza will conclude more than 20 years on the San Diego Superior Court bench today.

“It has been a supreme honor for me to serve the people of San Diego County as a Superior Court Judge,” said Judge Meza. 

The daughter of Mexican immigrants, Judge Meza worked her way from East Los Angeles to Yale College, to be among the first women ever admitted to the all-male university, graduating with honors. From Yale, she came back to California to attend Stanford Law School to become the first and only lawyer in her family.

Right out of law school, she joined the Legal Aid Society in San Diego as a staff attorney in charge of government benefits litigation in state and federal court. From Legal Aid, she joined prominent civil law firms as an associate attorney, representing clients in commercial litigation.  In 1987, she joined the United States Attorney’s Office where she served for 14 years, becoming a high ranking member of the office, in charge of special prosecutions involving civil rights violations by federal law enforcement officers, hate crimes committed by white supremacists against elected officials, and public corruption cases against officers entrusted with protecting the border. 

She was appointed to the Superior Court by Governor Gray Davis in August 2001 to become the only Latina serving as a Superior Court judge at the time. In her 20 years as a judge, she became one of the most experienced criminal trial judges in the San Diego Superior Court, presiding over some of the most serious and violent criminal cases in the County of San Diego. For eight years she has represented San Diego on a state advisory committee tasked with maintaining the accuracy of criminal jury instructions used by all trial judges in the state and making the jury instructions easy to follow for juries.   

“Judge Meza has been an advocate to increase gender and minority representation on our bench to reflect our San Diego community. Most recently, she helped start the San Diego Latino Judges Association to build a pipeline of judicial applicants and encourage new Latinx judges to get involved in court and community leadership,” said San Diego Superior Court Presiding Judge Lorna Alksne. “She has been a mentor judge on our bench. Her experience and advice will be greatly missed.”

She has been a leader of organizations that support the advancement of people of color and women in the law, including as chair of the San Diego Latino Judges Association which seeks to build a pipeline of future judges. Judge Meza is also a member of the Lawyer’s Club Advisory Board which seeks to advance the status of women in the law and a member of the Executive Committee of Latinas in the Law which mentors Latinas who are starting their careers in the legal profession.  She will continue to serve as a member of Senator Alex Padilla’s Judicial Selection Committee.