Fresno State alumnus becomes state justice

Fresno State alumnus Rosenda Peña Jr. was sworn in as associate justice for the California Court of AppealFresno State alumnus Rosenda Peña Jr. was sworn in as associate justice for the California Court of AppealFresno State alumnus Rosenda Peña Jr. was sworn in as the state's newest associate justice serving in the Fifth Appellate District in Fresno.

Nearly 90 of Peña's friends and family observed as he was sworn in by California Supreme Court Chief Justice Tani G. Tani G. Cantil-Sakauye in San Francisco. 

Peña, 57, is a native of Parlier who graduated from Fresno State in 1977 with a bachelor of arts in political science before attending UCLA School of Law where he graduated in 1980.

He first worked with the California Fifth District Court of Appeals as an attorney in 1984 until he was appointed by the Fresno County Superior Court in 2002.

Peña also served as a deputy attorney for the California State Public Defenders Office from 1981-83, a deputy attorney general for the California Attorney General's office from 1990-92 and an associate attorney in private practice with the Law Firm of Hernandez and Ramirez from 1992-94.

While at Fresno State, Peña was actively involved in the campus community, from co-founding the Chicanos in Law student organization, dancing with Los Danzantes de Aztlán and volunteering as a member of MeCha and with the United Farm Workers Union.

He was also a member of Pi Gamma Mu, the College of Social Sciences honor society, and was a participant in the first Chicano Commencement Celebration in 1977 held at the Fresno Fairgrounds.

Peña, who was appointed by Gov. Jerry Brown last month to serve on the Court of Appeal, fills the vacancy created by the retirement of Associate Justice Betty L. Dawson.