Armilla Staley-Ngomo is committed to social justice and criminal defense. After graduating from Whittier College with a B.A. in Spanish and Political Science, she served as a Judicial Fellow for the Planning & Research Bureau of the Alameda County Superior Court in Oakland from 2003 to 2004. Armilla then continued working as a Policy Analyst for the Bureau for a year before attending law school at the University of California, Berkeley School of Law from 2005 to 2008. During law school, Armilla participated in several clinical programs, including the California Asylum Representation Clinic, the Juvenile Hall Outreach Program, and the Death Penalty Clinic. She was also an editor of the California Law Review and the Berkeley Journal of African-American Law & Policy, and participated in several minority student groups and organizations.
“The Judicial Fellowship undoubtedly helped foster my commitment to public service. During the fellowship, I was given the opportunity to help structure and implement several court-community outreach programs, such as the Bench-Bar Speakers Bureau, the East Bay Stand Down, and the Homeless and Caring Program, among other annual events and court visits. The goal of the programs was to help increase the public’s understanding and knowledge of the judicial system, as well as to address some of the legal barriers confronting Alameda county residents. The fellowship served as the foundation for my continued interest in serving and supporting some of our most underserved and vulnerable communities—particularly undocumented immigrants, monolingual Spanish speakers, and criminal defendants—with the highest level of legal representation, respect, and dignity.”
Armilla is currently an Assistant Federal Public Defender in the Central District of California in Los Angeles and Santa Ana. She started her federal public defender career as a trial attorney in 2010. As a trial attorney, she provided every aspect of written and oral legal representation to indigent individuals charged with federal criminal offenses for three years. After the birth of her daughter, Armilla began working as a post-conviction attorney for indigent individuals who were convicted of life sentences and/or the death penalty. As a habeas attorney, she currently works on all stages of capital and non-capital litigation, from pre-petition investigation through United States Supreme Court proceedings and clemency. Prior to becoming a federal public defender, Armilla worked as a litigation association at Caldwell Leslie & Proctor, PC, a litigation boutique in Los Angeles, and Morrison & Foerster LLP, a large law firm in San Francisco. She was also a judicial clerk for the Honorable Consuelo Bland Marshall, U.S. District Judge for the Central District of California.
Armilla was raised in Madrid, Spain and Las Vegas, Nevada, and is fluent in Spanish. Her mother is originally from Equatorial Guinea, a small country located in western Africa that was a former Spanish colony. In her free time, Armilla enjoys spending time at the beach, parks, and children’s museums with her partner Whigmass and their eighteen month old daughter Salome.
Brenda Martin Del Campo is a Management Analyst II at the Superior Court of California, County of San Bernardino. She graduated from UCLA with a B.A. in Spanish. Her interest in law and public service began with her participation in JusticeCorps. Prior to pursuing a full-time career, Brenda served as a 2014-2015 Judicial Fellow. In this role, she implemented the San Bernardino Superior Court’s first Law Day Celebration, designed and established the Court’s Traffic Ticket/Infraction Amnesty Program, and developed proposals for Court Executive Officers. Passionate about the intersection of law and public policy within the judicial system, she proceeded to work for the Court. In her role as a Management Analyst II, she works primarily with the Court Executive Office. Brenda presents sound recommendations with Court-wide impact, including contract compliance, oversees statistical reporting for Family Law and Juvenile case types, AB109, and leads the Temporary Judge Program.
The Judicial Fellowship provided me with an eye-opening experience of the high-level decision-making process in a complex court system. The fellowship allowed me to become an active public servant in a micro and macro level while transforming into a professional. Through this opportunity, I have witnessed the value of ensuring honesty and trust in the judicial system.
Chris Roberts is a Deputy Sheriff with the Orange County Sheriff’s Department. Chris was hired by the department in February 2017 and is currently assigned to Jail Operations as a jail deputy in Santa Ana, CA. In this position, Chris handles the intake and processing of incoming arrestees as well as the supervision of inmates housed in the facility.
Chris has been involved in public service for the past five years. After graduating from Sonoma State University in 2013 with a degree in Criminal Justice, Chris served as a 2014-15 Judicial Fellow in the Special Projects Division of the San Diego Superior Court. In this role, he tracked proposed legislation and analyzed their potential impact on the courts, documented and continually updated the status of the collaborative court participants, researched the potential expansion of the collaborative court program, as well as other projects such as creating a policy recommendation regarding the Pretrial Services Division.
Chris has been in the law enforcement field following his completion of the fellowship program in June 2015. Chris was subsequently hired by Laguna Beach Police Department and graduated the police academy in June 2016. Following his graduation, he worked for the Laguna Beach Police Department as a patrol officer.
Chris’ credits his experience as a Judicial Fellow as being pivotal for him in reaching his goals due to the hands-on professional experience he gained in the public service field.
Public service is a large and many-faceted field, and the fellowship program allows you to gain hands-on experience in numerous aspects of it. This experience provided me the opportunity to expand my leadership and collaboration skills while building professional relationships with and working with similar goal driven peers. The knowledge I gained through the fellowship have benefited me in every aspect of public service my career has taken me.
Monica Vedolla was placed at the Orange County Superior Court, as a member of the 2015-2016 Judicial Administration class. As a judicial fellow, Monica studied the effects of Proposition 47 on Orange County’s Drug Court program. Additionally, she conducted analyses on various online services aimed to provide equal access to justice for all litigants and to increase public access to the Court. Throughout the duration of her fellowship, Monica had the privilege of working alongside a team of innovative and progressive court administrators, managers, and judicial staff.
Prior to participating in the Judicial Administration Fellowship, she graduated from Sonoma State University in 2015 with a B.A. in Criminology and Criminal Justice Studies. While attending Sonoma State, she also worked for the Sonoma County Sheriff’s Office at the Main Adult Detention Facility, and interned at Verity, Sonoma County’s Rape Crisis Center, as a crisis line counselor. Monica is currently employed by the Sonoma County Probation Department as a Deputy Probation Officer in the investigations unit.
Upon entering the fellowship, I was at a crossroads in my career path, between deciding to attend law school or pursue a career in probation. Being exposed to the collaborative culture of Orange County’s Drug Court program solidified my decision to pursue a career in probation. The fellowship provided an opportunity for professional growth. Through the fellowship experience, I developed skills and attained knowledge that I apply to my current position in the investigations unit. As a probation officer, I serve as a neutral arm of the Court, by writing comprehensive presentence reports that include information pertinent to the criminal offense and the offender, as well as provide sentencing recommendations.
Sarah Vance Guenther, owner and principal consultant of SVGlobal Consulting, served as a Judicial Administration Fellow from 2007-2008 based at the Superior Court of California, County of Alameda. Following her fellowship, she worked as a Management Analyst at the Alameda court focused on communications, public affairs, and collaborative justice programming. With a current focus on court communications and public affairs consulting, she served as a Judicial Public Information Expert for the USAID Promoting Rule of Law Project in Myanmar in 2015 and will return in 2017. In addition to public information consulting, Sarah frequently serves as a grant/proposal writer developing submission on behalf of public agencies, private companies, and non-profit organizations focused on rule of law, collaborative justice, and civil society issues.
Prior to her work with the courts, Sarah worked as a development associate with Tetra Tech DPK focused on rule of law issues in the developing world, a court management consultant for the judicial branch in Macedonia, and as a teacher and trainer in Japan. Sarah received a Bachelor of Arts in International Relations from Johns Hopkins University, a graduate certificate in Project Planning and Management from the University of California at Davis, and attended law school at the University of San Francisco.
The Fellowship presented the opportunity to learn and work with great people at a pivotal point in my career. It changed my career trajectory and continues to open doors and introduce thoughtful and talented people throughout California. It offered exposure to different approaches to similar challenges across the state, and an opportunity to really consider about what works, where it works, and why it works.
The fellowship remains an important counterpoint to the international consulting and federal grant writing that I do. California’s diversity on multiple levels provides an important touchstone to how I approach and address best practices in judicial administration and civil society programming. My tenure as a fellow highlighted access to justice and communication issues that impact individual courthouses as well as the judicial branch as a whole; these issues remain a central theme in my work today.
I am incredibly grateful for the fellowship opportunity and hope to pay forward the generosity and genuine enthusiasm for public service that I’ve received as a Fellow and after.
Carlos Martinez is a member of the 2015-2016 Judicial Administration Fellowship cohort and was placed at the San Francisco Superior Court. Originally from San Diego, he graduated from Santa Clara University in 2015 with a B.S. in Political Science and minors in Music and Sociology. While at Santa Clara, he studied public law in Washington, D.C., interned at the Public Defender’s Office, and volunteered at a children’s orphanage in Nepal. He currently works at the Habeas Corpus Resource Center as a Capital Defense Investigator for the state of California.
“The Judicial Administration Fellowship was an invaluable experience that shaped my current understanding of our state’s judiciary. I entered the Fellowship with a passion for indigent defense but no substantial experience in the judicial system. To me, the courts were an intimidating and complex maze of processes that were unintelligible. While I was right about the judiciary’s complexity, the fellowship’s combination of a court placement with monthly academic seminars made these complexities both understandable and relevant. My court placement granted me the flexibility to study and participate in court services that assist indigent populations, and the academic seminars studied these specific services in the context of the state judicial branch. I am currently a capital defense investigator for the state of California, an especially niche field that involves complex judicial administration spanning decades. My fellowship experience not only prepared me for some of the administrative realities of capital defense, but it also provided a broader understanding that helps me better explain the process to the affected populations I work with. I’m not sure if I would have the same level of understanding if not for my fellowship experience.”