Issue:  Vol. 48 / No. 11 / 15 March 2018

Lesbian judge receives ‘Woman of the Year’ honor

San Francisco Superior Court Judge Donna Hitchens has joined the ranks of “Woman of the Year” honorees from the 13th Assembly District. Assemblyman Mark Leno (D-San Francisco) nominated Hitchens for the award in recognition of her groundbreaking work to improve the accessibility of the legal system for low-income families and children.

In a statement Monday, March 10, Leno pointed to Hitchens’s help establishing coordinated youth services and a mandatory training program for juvenile court attorneys as well as her work in helping to establish the court’s Family Law Self-Help Center. He also praised Hitchens for working closely with the Child Trauma Research Project and the University of California, San Francisco forensic psychiatry program to see that such things as neutral custody evaluations are available to families with limited means.

Curiously, the openly gay Leno failed to mention in his release that he had chosen an out lesbian for the award, or that in 1977 – fresh out of Boalt Hall School of Law – Hitchens helped co-found the National Center for Lesbian Rights.

The statement does point to Hitchens working “tirelessly to improve low and moderate income people’s access to the courts and to improve services for at risk youth exposed to violence at home and in the community.”

Leno called Hitchens “one of those extraordinary individuals we rarely come across in our lifetimes,” and added that, “She has put her time and talents to use for those that need them most – foster youth, young people exposed to violence and low-income families. She has touched the lives of so many throughout the Bay Area, I was proud to honor her today.”

Since being elected to the Superior Court in 1990, Hitchens has served as presiding judge, a trial judge in the civil and criminal divisions, and as supervising judge of the Unified Family Court. She is a former member of the Judicial Council and the Advisory Committee on Access and Fairness in the Courts and currently chairs the Science & the Law Education Committee.

For the past seven years, she has chaired the San Francisco Safe Start Initiative, aimed at improving services to young children exposed to violence in the home and in the community. She received the 2001 Benjamin Aranda Access to Justice Award for her efforts to improve access to the courts for low and moderate income people and the 2002 Judicial Officer of the Year Award from the Family Law Section of the State Bar of California.

Hitchens’s partner is San Francisco Superior Court Judge Nancy Davis.

— Matthew S. Bajko, March 10, 2008 @ 1:32 pm PST
Filed under: News,Politics

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