YREKA – JoAnn M. Bicego was recently named Siskiyou County's newest Superior Court judge by California Gov. Jerry Brown.
The 53-year-old Bicego hails from Yreka and has been serving as a Siskiyou County Superior Court commissioner since 2009. Brown, a Democrat, appointed Bicego to the bench to fill the vacancy created by the retirement of Judge Donald R. Langford.
Bicego is one of 22 judges Brown appointed to superior court benches throughout California. The governor also nominated three judges for promotion to the Fourth and Fifth District Courts of Appeals. California has 58 trial, or superior courts, serving the state's roughly 34 million residents.
Bicego started her legal career in San Francisco, working on civil litigation defense with an emphasis on products liability and medical products and blood products defense. She has worked in public service for more than a decade.
“In 2006, I took a job as a deputy county counsel," Bicego told the Northern California Record. "I provided legal advice to numerous county departments, the board of supervisors, and various school districts and special districts. I handled county contracts, claims and litigation, and a wide variety of legal issues, ranging from land use to elections to transportation – virtually any and every kind of legal issue that can arise in a small rural county.”
Siskiyou County is in the northernmost area of California and is home to nearly 45,000 residents. Bicego was a court commissioner for seven and a half years before being appointed to the bench. As a court commissioner, she handled a variety of cases.
“My assignments included criminal misdemeanor, infraction and juvenile calendars; child support and family law calendars, including guardianships and requests for restraining orders, small claims and unlawful detainers,” she said. “I also frequently filled in on the civil, probate and conservatorship calendars. We are in the process of determining judicial assignments, but I anticipate continuing to handle a variety of matters.”
Bicego earned her law degree from the University of the Pacific, McGeorge School of Law and an undergraduate degree from the University of California, Santa Barbara, according to a statement from Brown's office.
Bicego acknowledges the unique challenges and opportunity facing judges in small towns, and is ready to embrace her new role.
“Being a judge in a small town is different in some respects than being a judge in a big city,” Bicego said. “The people I see in court are often the same ones I see at a grocery store, restaurant or church. I recognize that I’m a reflection of the court and justice system wherever I go. That can be a challenge, but it’s also an opportunity to educate and inform people about the judicial branch. My husband, in addition to being an attorney, has served on the Yreka City Council and is a volunteer firefighter. We are both active in and supportive of various service, community, arts and veterans groups, and I’m very honored and privileged to now serve as a judge.”
Bicego is registered without party preference. Compensation for her position is $191,612, according to the governor's office.