The Hon. Maria D. Hernandez is a judge for the Superior Court of Orange County in California. She was appointed by former governor Arnold Schwarzenegger on March 26, 2009, filling a vacancy created by the retirement of Judge James Brooks.
Hernandez received a B.A. in Social Ecology from the University of California, Irvine in 1986. She then earned a J.D. from Western State University College of Law in 1991.
Hernandez began her legal career in 1992, working as an attorney for the Law Offices of Marlin Stapleton, Sr. and the Law Offices of Patrick D. McNeal. She joined the Office of the Public Defender of Orange County as a deputy public defender in 1995, a position she held until her appointment as court commissioner for the Superior Court of Orange County in 2006.
Hernandez has received widespread recognition for her work overhauling the truancy program of the Superior Court of Orange County. She has advocated for an evidence-based, holistic approach to truancy, one that emphasizes restorative justice over punitive incarceration.
The Judicial Council honored her with the Distinguished Service Award in 2016.
Hernandez was raised in Fallbrook, California surrounded by avocado groves. She was a resident of Huntington Beach, California at the time of her appointment to the Superior Court of Orange County.
She is registered to vote as a Republican.
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