SONOMA COUNTY – After more than 20 years with the Sonoma County Superior Court, Louise Bayles-Fightmaster retired in March, creating an opening for a new commissioner in the county's court system.
The open spot was filled this spring by Santa Rosa family law attorney Becky A. Rasmason, who joins the ranks of 20 judges and two other commissioners on the Sonoma County Superior Court's bench.
Making 85 percent of a judge's salary, or $160,700, and assigned to the family law court, Rasmason will mainly preside over cases concerning child support matters.
In addition to her new commissioner duties, Rasmason is also a professor at her alma mater, Empire College School of Law in Santa Rosa.
Before she earned a juris doctor degree from Empire College, Rasmason received a Bachelor of Science degree from the University of Arizona. The newly appointed court commissioner is certified as a family law specialist by the Board of Legal Specialization of the California Bar Association, is a member of multiple bar and law associations, and is a former president of Sonoma County Women in Law.
Before stepping into her current role, Rasmason practiced family law as a partner and mentor to North Bay area attorney Anthony R. Zunini, also a graduate of Empire Law School. Zunino has practiced exclusively in divorce and family law since 2008, learning much from the mentorship of Rasmason, a certified family law specialist. The Law Office of Anthony Zunini did not answer requests for comment.
Sonoma County Superior Court executive officer, Jose O. Guillen, told the Northern California Record that a court commissioner is a "judicial officer appointed by judges." The process of appointing judicial officers begins with an open position, which is posted online. A committee then interviews eligible candidates, focusing on experience and skill base.
"The executive committee reports to the full bench," Guillen told the Northern California Record.
Anything less than a majority vote is decided by ballot.
Guillen said Rasmason was "the most qualified individual presented by the committee."
Rasmason declined requests for an interview.
A change made to the second California Constitution more than 135 years ago is the origin of the state constitution's current mandate that each of its 58 counties has a Superior Court. California's superior courts are the lowest level of state courts having general jurisdiction over civil and criminal matters. Eligibility to become a superior court judge in the state of California begins with a minimal 10-year membership with the State Bar of California.