Hon. Judy Holzer Hersher is a judge for the Superior Court of Sacramento County in California, appointed in 2000. She was re-elected, unopposed in 2014. She is a prolific contributor of articles to the Sacramento Lawyer - the Sacramento County Bar Association Magazine (see link in articles section below).
“Being an attorney means you are an advocate. You advocate for one side or the other. At some point in my career, I began to see the middle more than the sides. A career as a judge fits much more with that perspective.” (quote from interview in The Recorder - see link below).
Hon. Hersher is known among acquaintances and colleagues for her organizational skills, preparation and eloquence. “I love what I do. I really do. I’m kind of sorry that I didn’t have a chance to do it until I was 50.” (quote from same interview).
Hon. Hersher is a New York native whose original professional trajectory was toward literature and publishing. Hersher secured a fellowship at Georgetown University, where she earned her Master’s degree while teaching Shakespearean literature. Georgetown was followed by a brief stint reporting for the Washington Star newspaper. Hersher and her husband then moved to California and she had worked for some time as a reporter for the Sacramento Bee and a few other outlets.
At this point Hersher enrolled in King Hall School of Law at UC-Davis, as a mother to a 14-month old. She gave birth to her second child after her first year in law school. The young mother joined fellow students facing the pull between careers and young families and helped launch the law school’s first daycare, the Perfect Tender Child Care Co-op.
Hersher joined Downey, Brand, Seymour & Rohwer in Sacramento in 1984, which she calls “the pre-specialization era.” Her focus was on state and federal contractual law for both plaintiffs and defendants, eminent domain issues, real estate and employment discrimination.
Hersher, who had her third child while at Downey, Brand, was the firm’s first woman Partner with children, according to the group Women Lawyers of Sacramento. The organization cited her work to extend the firm’s maternity leave and to expand women’s tenure-track opportunities in naming her its Frances Newell Carr Award winner in 2003.
Some of her high profile cases include her decision in California Nurses Association v. Schwarzenegger, which upheld nurse-to-patient staffing ratios opposed by the governor; Teachers’ Retirement Board v. Campbell, where she ruled that the state improperly skipped a $500 million payment to a pension fund; her decision to tossed out a state rule requiring trucks built in the mid-1990s to be refitted with tougher emission control features; She also heard motions in a case involving two workers who were killed when an elevator door buckled at a hotel construction site and they fell 23 stories to their deaths.
When she’s not on the bench, Hersher volunteers with UC-Davis’ law school alumni, teaches courses on ethics and judicial basics to new and temporary judges and fields requests to speak to civic groups about the judiciary.
- J.D. from UC Davis (1984)
- M.A. from Georgetown University (1975)
- Bachelor's Degree from State University of New York at Albany (1972)
- Judge at Superior Court of Sacramento County in Sacramento, CA (from 2000)
- Partner at Downey, Brand, Seymour & Rowher (1984 to 2000)