California Bar Journal
CBJ - December 2012 #01.
Judge of humble beginnings finds creative solutions to rural county's problems
The California LawyerDecember 2012Judge of humble beginnings finds creative solutions to rural county's problems By Amy YarbroughStaff WriterGrowing up the seventh of 10 children of farm worker parents, Judge Juan Ulloa learned never to back away from challenges.
That same philosophy guides Ulloa's work with Imperial County Superior Court, whether it's crafting solutions to improve access to justice for poor and geographically isolated residents, building trust with a local Native American tribe, or helping forge a unique collaboration with Mexican courts. Ulloa will be recognized for those efforts on Dec. 15 when he is scheduled to receive the Benjamin Aranda III Access to Justice Award.
Co-sponsored by the State Bar, the Judicial Council and the California Judges Association, the award recognizes judges who have shown a long-term commitment to improving access to the courts on behalf of low- and moderate-income Californians. For Ulloa, the award has added significance. Ulloa worked with the late Judge Aranda when Ulloa was a law school student and co-director of Centro Legal de Santa Monica, a project of the UCLA La Raza Law Student Association. Aranda was his supervising attorney and the two stayed in touch over the years. Fittingly, both grew up in towns a short drive from one another in Imperial County.
"It is beyond expectation," Ulloa said of the award, "very humbling."
A letter in support of Ulloa's nomination submitted by William Lehman, presiding judge of Imperial County Superior Court and Kristine Kussman, the court executive officer, credits the judge with being a "leader in court reform efforts" and outreach to the community.
"To me I always felt like no matter what happens, I would always be able to find something to do to survive. No matter what challenges you have, you find a way to meet them." - Judge Juan Ulloa
"Judge Ulloa recognizes that the court is just one stop of many on the road toward access to justice," Lehman and Kussman wrote. "He defies the scarcity of resources in this county by personally encouraging service agencies to coordinate and create continuity of care for litigants whose lives must touch the court system."
Raised near El Centro, Ulloa worked in the fields as...