Judge Margarita B. Bernal
“I am honored to have participated in CLEO. The program gave me the head start, the connection to law school, and the determination that I could become a lawyer and make a difference. As I grew as I lawyer, especially a trial lawyer, I realized, I could be a judge. I applied in 1985 and, over 27 other candidates, was selected as the a Municipal Court Judge in Tucson, AZ. I was the first Latina ever appointed to the bench and served as the only Latina lawyer in my court for over 20 years. I have also served as the first Latina in many capacities: 1) faculty member in the history of the National Judicial College in Reno, at the University of Nevada. 2) chair of the American Bar Association National Conference of Special Court Judges 3) Dean of New Judge Orientation for the Arizona Supreme Court, among many first. I believe my true successful path began as a CLEO law student.”
Judge Margarita B. Bernal served as a municipal court judge in Tucson, AZ, from September 1985 until December 2011. She was the first Latina appointed to the Tucson City Court bench. Prior to her appointment to the bench, she specialized in criminal and public access litigation and immigration law during her years of practice. Judge Bernal received her B.A. and J.D. from the University of Arizona. Since her retirement, Judge Bernal is serving as a Crriminal Justice Act lawyer for the District Court of Arizona in Tucson.
A continuing legal and judicial educator, Judge Bernal has taught over 100 courses on various subjects such as DUI, new case updates, court seminars for new judges, domestic violence, and has served as faculty for the National Judicial College, Reno, NV, from 1992 to the present. Since 2001, Judge Bernal, a member of the American Bar Association, has served as an executive committee officer of the National Conference of Special Court Judges, including Chair of the Special Court Conference. She is now also an active member of the ABA’s GP Solo section.