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HON. EMILY E. VASQUEZ, RET.

  • Based in Northern California, available in All of California
  • Available for Mediation, Arbitration, and Private Judging assignments

Introduction

Judge Emily E. Vasquez was appointed to the Superior Court of California for the County of Sacramento in 2001. Judge Vasquez was the first Latina judge of the Sacramento Superior Court. Prior to her retirement in January 2022, she was assigned to a general trial department presiding over civil and criminal jury trials, complex civil litigation, and writs of habeas corpus. She decided hundreds of cases involving a wide range of constitutional, statutory, and other legal questions, including presiding over close to 400 jury trials in civil and criminal law. She has also presided over high-volume misdemeanor and felony law and motion calendars and is a past member of the Superior Court Appellate Panel.

Prior to her appointment to the bench, Judge Vasquez was a shareholder in the prominent law firm of Kronick, Moskovitz, Tiedemann and Girard (“KMTG”) where she specialized in labor and employment litigation on behalf of public and private sector employers. She practiced law for 24 years in a variety of positions providing a broad range of experience. She had a distinguished career as a trial and appellate attorney who practiced law before our state and federal courts. Prior to joining KMTG, Judge Vasquez served as a deputy public defender for Sacramento County, an appellate attorney in the general counsel’s office of the Public Employment Relations Board, staff counsel to the Fair Employment and Housing Commission, and staff attorney for the California Rural Legal Assistance.

Judge Vasquez’s dedication to the judiciary, the legal profession and the community is demonstrated by a lifetime of accomplishments and activities. She has been the recipient of numerous honors and awards for her professional excellence and community service. Notably, she was honored by the American Board of Trial Advocates (ABOTA) with the “Judge of the Year Award” (2022) for her “integrity, fairness and professionalism during her tenure on the Sacramento County Bench.”

An attorney stated, “Judge Vasquez is one of the most sincere and diligent judges I have been before. She really cares about the litigants and jurors. She always demonstrates kindness and has a great work ethic.”

Practice Areas

  • Americans with Disabilities Act
  • Civil Rights
  • Education Law
  • Labor and Employment Law
  • Personal Injury
  • Sexual Assault

Experience Summary

During the course of a legal career spanning four decades, Judge Vasquez has been involved in a wide variety of cases as both a Superior Court Judge for Sacramento County, and as a lawyer.

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Hobbies & Interests

Judge Vasquez is fluent in Spanish. She spent her junior year in college attending the University of Madrid in Spain and she considers that experience to be life changing. Her year in Spain provided her with a deeper understanding of both herself and the world. She is passionate about learning as much as she can about communities all over the globe. Aside from enjoying travel in her spare time, she is also the President of the Board of Directors for the Health Education Council.

Testimonials

"Judge Vasquez is an extremely thorough Judge. She has a wonderful judicial temperament and treats counsel, clients, and jurors with the utmost respect."
- Top Civil Litigator

Links and Articles

Experience Summary

BUSINESS/CONTRACTUAL DISPUTES


As a judge of the Superior Court, Judge Vasquez presided over about a dozen business contract disputes in jury trials and bench trials.


• An example of the many cases that she handled in this area is the following matter requesting declaratory relief:


XG Communities LLC, a Delaware Limited Liability Company v. City of Sacramento (Bench Trial, 2018) This was a bench trial for declaratory relief on a contract (Wireless Marketing Agreement) entered into by XG Communities, LLC and the City of Sacramento. The City desired to engage XG to provide wireless consulting, management, and development services related to the use of City assets for the purpose of planning and implementing a marketing plan for Wireless Telecommunications Facilities as that term was defined in the contract. She held that XG had the sole and exclusive right to market, license, and sublicense all located City Assets to the exclusion of all others during the Contract term.


EMPLOYMENT AND LABOR LAW


As a former Superior Court judge, she adjudicated dozens of employment cases, including sexual harassment, hostile work environment, wrongful termination, and ADA failure to accommodate under the California Fair Employment and Housing Act. As a judge, she was a faculty member of the California Center for Judicial Education and Research (CJER), providing ethics, labor and employment law, and e-business training to judges throughout California.


• A representative jury trial that she presided over as a judge in the area of sexual harassment is the following case:


Cantwell v. Costco & Robertson (September 2019; 4-Week Jury Trial) Plaintiff filed a sexual harassment lawsuit against her employer, Costco, and her alleged harasser, Robertson. The issues and motions filed by the parties were numerous because the harassment was alleged to have occurred over a ten-year period. Employer Costco contended that Plaintiff was barred by the statute of limitations and Costco was never informed by Plaintiff of the alleged sexual harassment. Indeed, the attorneys did not stipulate to any facts; everything was in dispute. There were close to 200 exhibits in the case.


• A representative jury trial that she presided over as a judge in the area of failure to accommodate a physical disability in violation of the California Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA) is the following:


Ellen Price v. City of Sacramento (July 2018; Jury Trial) Plaintiff filed a complaint alleging that the City of Sacramento had failed to reasonably accommodate her physical disability in violation of the California Fair Employment and Housing Act (Gov’t Code section 12940 et seq) and the City’s own internal policies. The city denied all allegations and ultimately obtained a verdict for the defense from the jury. The case was appealed by the Plaintiff on several grounds, notably on the issue of insufficient evidence to support the jury’s verdict. The Court of Appeal affirmed the trial court’s judgment (in its entirety).


• As a judicial officer, she adjudicated dozens of cases where parties requested restraining orders due to harassing behavior by disgruntled employees, ex-spouses, disgruntled customers, etc.


• As a lawyer, during her 24 -year legal career, she handled dozens of labor and employment cases. She represented both management and labor, plaintiffs and defendants, government agencies and private businesses. Her experience included handling both individual and class action cases in state and federal courts (trial and appellate levels).


• As a lawyer, she represented private employers and public agencies before state and federal courts and the Department of Fair Employment and Housing, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, as well as the U.S. Office of Education, the Office of Civil Rights, and the California Labor Commissioner.


• As a practicing lawyer, she represented management in several disciplinary hearings against employees before the California Personnel Board and before arbitrators pursuant to collective bargaining agreements in effect in particular cases.


• As the judge assigned to handle case management of complex civil cases, she handled dozens of Wage & Hour and PAGA cases and class action lawsuits. She handled several pre-trial motions, e.g., discovery motions, class action certification, and motions for summary judgment.


• From 1983 to 1985, she worked as an appellate attorney in the General Counsel’s Office of the California Public Employment Relations Board (PERB). Her experience with the PERB consisted of writing appellate briefs and presenting appellate arguments in defense of final Board unfair labor practice decisions when aggrieved parties sought review in the appellate courts. Further, she sought and obtained injunctive relief on behalf of the Board against alleged unfair labor practices in the workplace.


• As a shareholder for her prior law firm, she represented management in many arbitration hearings for breach of the collective bargaining agreement in those cases.


PERSONAL INJURY


As a judicial officer, she adjudicated dozens of personal injury cases, including auto accidents, medical malpractice, and slip-and-fall cases.


• An example of the many personal injury cases that she presided over is the following slip & fall case:


Cristy Milano v. Rite Aid Corporation (Jury Trial) Plaintiff Milano filed a lawsuit alleging that Defendant Rite Aid Corp. was liable for her injuries suffered as a result of a slip & fall on the defendant’s property. She alleged that she received no warning or indication of the wet surface and that the Defendant’s witnesses contradicted one another. Defendant disputed all allegations and presented witness testimony that it had placed two cones to warn customers of the wet floor, and that at the time of the accident, Plaintiff denied being hurt and quickly left the store.


• She oversaw several jury trials regarding multi-car accident cases involving serious injuries with several cross complaints by the defendants against the Plaintiff and against co-defendants.


• She oversaw several jury trials for medical malpractice in relation to back surgery


UNLAWFUL DETAINERS


As a judicial officer, she handled dozens of bench and jury trials in the area of landlord/tenant unlawful detainers. She published an opinion in this area of the law from her days as a practicing attorney: Cazares v. Ortiz (1980) 109 Cal. App.3d Supp. 23, involving the issue of how damages should be computed for breach of the implied warranty of habitability. In this case, the Appellate Department of the Superior Court held that damages should be computed for breach of the implied warranty of habitability by recognizing the agreed contract rent as proper for the premises as impliedly warranted and reducing the agreed rent by the percentage reduction of habitability and then multiplying the difference by the number of months of occupancy.

Legal Career

  • Neutral, Judicate West (2022-Present)
  • Judge, Sacramento Superior Court; Presided over a general trial department, including criminal and civil jury trials, bench trials and preliminary hearings, and complex civil litigation. She decided hundreds of cases involving a wide range of constitutional, statutory, and other legal questions (2001-2022)
  • Served on numerous judicial committees including Technology Committee, Peer Review Subcommittee Chairperson, Student Outreach Committee, and Integrated Justice Information System Co-Chair (2001-2022)
  • Shareholder, Kronick, Moskovitz, Tiedemann & Girard; Emphasis in matters related to labor, employment discrimination, wrongful discharge, drug testing, education law, and personnel policy issues. Litigation was in federal and state courts (both trial and appellate levels) and before administrative agencies. Litigation included the representation of clients in individual and class action cases. (1993-2001)
  • Assistant Public Defender, Office of the Public Defender, Sacramento County (1985-1993)
  • Director and Chairwoman of the Sacramento Regional Transit Board of Directors, appointed by the Mayor of Sacramento; During her tenure, the public transit agency built, completed, and opened a highly successful light rail system in Sacramento County (1984-1992)
  • Appellate Attorney, General Counsel’s office, Public Employment Relations Board (1983-1985)
  • Staff Attorney, California Rural Legal Assistance; General civil practice with an emphasis on education law, landlord-tenant law, debt collection defense, automobile injury, governmental benefit programs, and employment issues (1977-1981)
  • Commission Counsel, Fair Employment and Housing Commission (1981-1983)

Education & Professional Affiliations

  • J.D. University of California, Berkeley School of Law (1977)
  • B.A University of California, Davis (1974)
  • American Judges Association, Member (2008-Present)
  • National Association of Women Judges, Member (2002-Present)
  • California Judges Association, Member (2001-Present)
  • American Inn of Court (Schwartz/Levi Chapter; President (2015-2018); Member of Executive Committee and ’Mentor’ for law students (2002-Present); Member (2002-Present)
  • California Women Lawyers, Member (2004-Present)
  • Federal Bar Association, Member (2010-Present)
  • Cruz Reynoso Bar Association of Sacramento (Formerly La Raza Lawyers Association), Honorary Member (1981-Present)
  • Sacramento County Bar Association, Honorary Member (1981-Present)
  • Women Lawyers of Sacramento, Honorary Member (1981-Present)
  • Asian Bar Association of Sacramento, Honorary Member (2012-2022)
  • Wiley W. Manuel Bar Association, Honorary Member (2012-2022)
  • Berkeley Law Alumni Association (1978-Present)
  • U.C. Davis Alumni Association, Lifetime Member

Achievements & Awards

  • Judge of the Year Award, American Board of Trial Advocates – ABOTA (2022)
  • Defensora de Justicia Award, Cruz Reynoso Bar Association (2022)
  • Inaugural Judge Emily E. Vasquez Community Service Award, Schwartz/Levi Inn of Court and U.C. Davis School of Law (2022)
  • Published article in Sacramento Lawyer Magazine, ‘Remembering Justice Cruz Reynoso’ (2021)
  • Published article in Sacramento Lawyer Magazine, ‘Remembering Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg’ (2020)
  • Judge of the Year Award, Sacramento County Bar Association (2019)
  • Recognition by the California Senate for leadership, integrity, and service to the cause of justice for all (2019)
  • Joe Serna, Jr., Lifetime of Community Service Award (2019)
  • Honorary Degree of Juris Doctor from Lincoln Law School, Sacramento (2013)
  • Certificate of Appreciation, Capitol City Trial Lawyers Association (2012)
  • Certificate of Appreciation, Health Education Council (2011)
  • Women Who Mean Business Award, Sacramento Business Journal (2008)
  • Rose Bird Memorial Award, California Women Lawyers (2008)
  • Outstanding Latina of the Year, Sacramento Hispanic Chamber of Commerce (2008)
  • Frances Newell Carr Achievement Award, Women Lawyers of Sacramento (2006)
  • Humanitarian of the Year Award, Sacramento County Bar Association (2001)

Legal Experience

  • Americans with Disabilities Act
  • Civil Rights
  • Education Law
  • Labor and Employment Law
  • Personal Injury
  • Sexual Assault

Recent Representative Cases