Joan Dempsey Klein

The Joan Dempsey Klein Distinguished Jurist Award was first presented in 1994. At the time, it was the “Distinguished Jurist” Award and its first recipient was Joan Dempsey Klein, a Justice on the Second District Court of Appeal in California. Justice Klein is a champion of women's rights and a pioneer in the struggle to achieve equal opportunity for women in the law. She was a founder and provisional president of CWL and the first president of the National Association of Women Judges, and she has spent considerable time giving support and positive reinforcement to women in the legal profession. She is well known as an excellent judge who listens, encourages dialogue and fosters consensus. She accomplished all of this while raising five children.

Candidates for the Joan Dempsey Klein Distinguished Jurist Award are judged on the basis of the following attributes which are characteristic of Joan Dempsey Klein:

  • Excellence as a jurist;
  • Longstanding vigorous service;
  • Inspiration to the women lawyers of California; and
  • From the southern portion of the California.

The Joan Dempsey Klein Distinguished Jurist Award is presented annually at CWL's Southern California Judicial Reception which is held in the Honoree's home town and organized with the help of the local Affiliate organization. 

Visit the CWL Awards page for nomination submission criteria.

Past Recipients:

  • 2023: Hon. Michelle Williams Court, Los Angeles Superior Court
  • 2022: Hon. Samantha P. Jessner, Los Angeles Superior Court
  • 2021: Hon. Joan Weber, San Diego Superior Court
  • 2020: Hon. Louise A. LaMothe
  • 2019: Hon. Maria Hernandez
  • 2018: Hon. Beverly Reid O'Connell (Dec.)
  • 2017: Hon. Marguerite D. Downing
  • 2016: Hon. Holly J. Fujie
  • 2015: Hon. Yvonne Campos
  • 2014: Hon. Kathleen E. O'Leary
  • 2013: Hon. Teresa Estrada-Mullaney (Ret.)
  • 2012: Hon. Audrey B. Collins
  • 2012: Hon. Lee Smalley Edmon
  • 2011: Hon. Irma E. Gonzalez (Ret.)
  • 2010: Hon. Deborah B. Andrews
  • 2009: Hon. Eileen C. Moore
  • 2008: Hon. Patricia Yim Cowett (Ret.)
  • 2007: Hon. Consuelo B. Marshall
  • 2006: Hon. Wendy S. Lindley (Ret.)
  • 2005: Hon. Sandra A. Thompson (Dec.)
  • 2004: Hon. Judith L. Haller
  • 2003: Hon. Pamela Iles (Ret.)
  • 2002: Hon. Fumiko Hachiya Wasserman
  • 2001: Hon. Vaino Spencer (Dec.)
  • 2000: Hon. Veronica Simmons McBeth (Ret.)
  • 1999: Hon. Meredith C. Taylor (Ret.)
  • 1998: Hon. Judith C. Chirlin (Ret.)
  • 1997: Hon. Candace Cooper (Ret.)
  • 1996: Hon. Arleigh Maddox Woods (Ret.)
  • 1995: Hon. Judith McConnell
  • 1994: Hon. Joan Dempsey Klein (Dec.)