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Obama names East Bay judge to national council

President Barack Obama announced today he’s appointing Alameda County Superior Court Judge Trina Thompson, who presides over the county’s Juvenile Court, to serve on the Coordinating Council on Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention.

An independent body within the executive branch, the council coordinates federal juvenile delinquency prevention programs, federal programs and activities that detain or care for unaccompanied juveniles, and federal programs relating to missing and exploited children. It consists of nine ex officio members and nine non-federal members chaired by the U.S. Attorney General, and meets quarterly or at the chair’s call.

Trina ThompsonThompson, 50, first was elected to the bench in November 2002 – the first African American woman ever elected to the county’s Superior Court – and was sworn into office in January 2003. Before taking over the Juvenile Court last year, she presided over felony jury trials, adult truancy court, and was responsible along with one of her colleagues for managing the court’s domestic violence calendar.

Thompson in 2001 had been appointed as a Juvenile Court Commissioner, responsible for hearing juvenile delinquency and dependency matters; she also chaired of the Alameda County Educational Task Force for the juvenile court to ensure the education of state-raised children.

Earlier, Thompson managed a private criminal defense practice from 1991 to 2000, focusing on juvenile, misdemeanor, felony and capital defense trials, and was a public defender in Alameda County from 1987 to 1991. The mother of two, who grew up in Oakland and Vallejo, holds a Bachelor’s degree in Legal Studies from the University of California, Berkeley and a law degree from Cal’s Boalt Hall School of Law.

Rep. Barbara Lee, D-Oakland, praised the appointment.

“Judge Thompson has earned tremendous respect for her insight and sensitivity in dealing with juvenile justice issues,” Lee said, and “will bring a wealth of experience as we examine how federal programs can be more effectively coordinated among federal, state and local government to better serve our at-risk youth.”

Josh Richman

Josh Richman covers state and national politics for the Bay Area News Group. A New York City native, he earned a bachelor’s degree in journalism from the University of Missouri and reported for the Express-Times of Easton, Pa. for five years before coming to the Oakland Tribune and ANG Newspapers in 1997. He is a frequent guest on KQED Channel 9’s “This Week in Northern California;” a proud father; an Eagle Scout; a somewhat skilled player of low-stakes poker; a rather good cook; a firm believer in the use of semicolons; and an unabashed political junkie who will never, EVER seek elected office.