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The Richard T. Fields Bar Association awarded San Bernardino Superior Judge Michael Sachs with the Judge of the Year award Oct. 5, for his work on the Inland Counties Judicial Applicant Mentorship Program.

Sachs developed the program with Riverside Superior Judge Jacqueline Jackson, the San Bernardino Superior Court said in a press release. The mentorship program guides attorneys that could bring professional or personal diversity through the judicial application process. Judge hopefuls are matched with judicial mentors to help them understand what it means to be on the bench.

“Our mission is to provide equal access to justice for all court users, regardless of race, religion, ethnicity, nationality, sexual orientation, sexual identification, disability or socio-economic status,” Sachs said in a press release. “Our Judicial Mentorship Program seeks out and recruits diverse judicial candidates, so our court reflects our county’s diverse population.” 

“I am pleased to see that Judge Sachs was recognized for this very important work,” said Assistant Presiding Judge Lisa Rogan in the release. “I know that it was personally important to him, and it has been a valuable tool for our court to encourage diverse candidates to join our bench.”

In an informational video for the program from last year, Sachs said that historically judges in the Inland Empire would select and encourage young attorneys to apply for judgeships.

“Many of our judges in both counties at the time were over the age of 40, they were white and they were typically appointing people that they thought would be good colleagues. I think an unintended consequence of that is the lack of diversity we now have in both counties,” Sachs said.

“Both of our courts have open arms to anyone who is qualified and willing to serve on our bench, regardless of race, nationality, ethnicity, socioeconomic status, whatever their circumstance might be,” Sachs said later.

Sachs previously served as Presiding Judge for San Bernardino Superior Court.

San Bernardino Superior Court had a need of 43 additional judges at the time of its launch, the highest need in the state.

The Richard T. Fields Bar Association was founded in 2010, and states it represents the interests of African-American attorneys in the Inland Empire.

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