The Honorable Richard Durbin
Senate Judiciary Committee
Dear Chairman Durbin:
On behalf of the Alliance for Justice (AFJ), a national association representing over 150 public interest and civil rights organizations, I write to strongly support the confirmation of Judge Marian Gaston to the United States District Court for the Southern District of California. Currently serving on the San Diego County Superior Court, Judge Gaston would bring 20 years of experience as a public defender in addition to her judicial experience to the federal bench.
Judge Gaston dedicated her legal career to public defense. After graduating from the University of California, Berkley, School of Law, she joined the San Diego County Public Defender’s Office where she remained for nearly twenty years. Judge Gaston worked her way up to Assistant Supervisor of the Juvenile Division in 2011. As a public defender, she represented indigent defendants in misdemeanor, felony, and juvenile cases – all of which gives her extensive trial experience on a wide range of criminal and juvenile law matters. Further, as a public defender, Judge Gaston understands the importance of equal access to justice and ensuring the fair treatment of all that come before our courts. Public defenders like her uphold our Constitution’s promise of justice and equity for all.
Judge Gaston’s dedication to public service and the San Diego community led to her appointment to the San Diego Superior Court by Gov. Jerry Brown in 2015. As a judge, she has presided over more than 500 trials. Between 2020 and 2022, Judge Gaston served as Assistant Presiding Judge of the Juvenile Division, where she presided over cases involving child abuse and neglect, reunification of parents with children, and other cases involving the placement of children in adoption, guardianship, and foster care. Judge Gaston now presides over adult criminal cases and mental health cases, including conservatorships. Her varied experience as a superior court judge exposed her to civil, criminal, and juvenile law – and has also given her experience in handling a large and varied caseload, which will be helpful as a district court judge.
Additionally, Judge Gaston is a leader in her local judicial community with deep ties to the Southern District of California. She is a member of the California Judges Association and has served on the organization’s Ethics Committee, Collaborative Courts Committee, and Juvenile Law Curriculum Committee. Since 2019, Judge Gaston has been a regular lecturer for the Judicial Council of California’s Center for Judicial Education and Research, an organization that trains California judges. She has also taught at University of California San Diego, Thomas Jefferson School of Law, University of the Pacific, McGeorge School of Law, and California Western School of Law. Notably, Judge Gaston is a member of the San Diego County Child Welfare Services Fetal Alcohol Syndrome Workgroup and Lawyers Without Borders.
A dedicated public servant who has pursued justice for all during the entirety of her career, Judge Gaston would make an excellent federal judge. She has extensive experience both on and off the bench, strong connections to the community she would serve, and an unflinching dedication to justice. As a public defender, Judge Gaston will bring that much-needed perspective on the federal bench. For all of the reasons stated above, I urge you to confirm Judge Gaston to the United States District Court for the Southern District of California.
President, Alliance for Justice