The Hon. Sunshine S. Sykes is a judge for the Riverside County Superior Court in California. She was appointed to the bench in 2013 by former governor Jerry Brown. She filled the vacancy created by the retirement of the Hon. Randall White (Ret.). At the time of her appointment, Judge Sykes, who is a member of the Navajo Nation, held the distinction of being the first Native American judge appointed to the Riverside County Superior Court.
She is a registered Democrat.
Judge Sykes graduated with honors with her B.A. in English from Stanford University in 1997. She went on to earn her J.D. from Stanford Law School in 2001.
An active member of the Native American community, Sykes worked as an intern at California Indian Legal Services before entering law school. While at Stanford Law School, Sykes would also clerk at California Indian Legal Services and at DNA People's Legal Services in Arizona. DNA is a non-profit law office that provides legal services to the Navajo and Hopi Reservations.
After law school, Sykes became a staff attorney with the California Indian Legal Services in 2001. In 2003, she would become a contract attorney at the Juvenile Defense Panel before joining the Riverside County Counsel's Office as a deputy county counsel in 2005. She would remain in that position until her appointment to the Superior Court in 2013.
While on the bench, Judge Sykes has presided over a civil and trials calendar.
She was appointed in 2015 by the California Supreme Court to serve on the Tribal Court State Court Forum. The forum, which functions under the Judicial Council, seeks to unite tribal and state court judges in an effort to address issues in the tribal communities.
Judge Sykes, whose mother is a Navajo Indian (her father is a non-Native), was born on the Navajo Nation Reservation in Tuba City, Arizona.
J.D. from Stanford Law School (2001)
B.A. from Stanford University (1997) (English)
Deputy County Counsel at Riverside County Counsel's Office in Riverside County, California (2005 to 2013)
Contract Attorney at Juvenile Defense Panel (2003 to 2005)
Staff Attorney at California Indian Legal Services in Alameda County, California (2001 to 2003)
Clerk at California Indian Legal Services in Alameda County, California
Intern at DNA People's Legal Services in Coconino County, Arizona
Intern at California Indian Legal Services in Alameda County, California