Kathryn M. Werdegar


Associate Justice
June 1994–August 2017

Judicial Experience: The Honorable Kathryn M. Werdegar was appointed to the California Supreme Court by Governor Pete Wilson on May 3, 1994. In November 2002, she was re-elected to a new term of office which began on January 7, 2003. Prior to her elevation to the Supreme Court, she served on the First District Court of Appeal in San Francisco.

Education: Justice Werdegar commenced her law studies at the University of California School of Law (Boalt Hall), where she was first in her class and the first woman to be elected editor-in-chief of the California Law Review. She completed her law studies at George Washington University, where she graduated first in her class. She received her B.A. (with honors) from the University of California at Berkeley.

Career Highlights: Before her appointment to the bench, Justice Werdegar’s career highlights included service with the United States Department of Justice in Washington, D.C.; director of the criminal law division of California Continuing Education of the Bar; senior staff attorney with the California Court of Appeal and the California Supreme Court; and professor and Associate Dean for Academic and Student Affairs at the University of San Francisco School of Law.

Honors and Awards: Justice Werdegar was appointed Regents’ Lecturer at the University of California at Berkeley, 2000. She is the recipient of the University of California School of Law (Boalt Hall) Citation Award (Boalt Hall’s highest honor), 2002; the Consumer Attorneys of California Justice of the Year Award, 1998; the Consumer Attorneys Association of Los Angeles Appellate Justice of the Year Award, 1996; the California Alumni Association Excellence in Achievement Award, 1996; the George Washington University Law Alumni Association Distinguished Public Service Award, 1996; and the George Washington University School of Law Charles Glover Award for Highest Achievement in the Field of Law, 1962.

Justice Werdegar has been awarded honorary doctorate degrees from Western State University College of Law, Southwestern University School of Law, and Pepperdine University School of Law.

Justice Werdegar was elected editor-in-chief of the California Law Review and served as a member of the George Washington University Law Review. She is a life member of the Order of the Coif and the recipient of five American Jurisprudence Awards.Publications: Justice Werdegar has written law review articles, monographs, model codes, and chapters in legal texts for practitioners. Her publications have addressed such issues as the relationship between the courts and private alternative dispute resolution, the value of diversity in the judicial system, and California criminal procedure. Under the auspices of the California College of Trial Judges (now the Center for Judicial Education and Research (CJER)), she authored a benchbook on misdemeanor procedure for trial court judges that has served as a model for other procedural benchbooks used in trial courts throughout the state.

Professional Activities and Associations: Justice Werdegar is chair of the Appellate Justices Education Committee of the Center for Judicial Education and Research (CJER). She is a member of the American Law Institute, the National Association of Women Judges, the California/Nevada Women Judges Association, and the California Judges Association. She is a board member of the California Supreme Court Historical Society and a former board member of the Boalt Hall Alumni Association.

Personal Data: Justice Werdegar was born in San Francisco. She and her husband, a family physician, have two grown sons and three grandchildren.