The elevation of United States Circuit Judge Mary H. Murguia of Phoenix, Arizona, to chief judge of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit represents the first Latina to serve as chief judge of a federal appellate court (article available here).
Judge Murguia is the Ninth Circuit’s twelfth chief judge, the first judge of Hispanic descent to serve as chief judge of the Ninth Circuit and the second woman to hold the position on the court.
A Kansas native, Murguia is one of seven children born to Mexican immigrants. Her brother Carlos is a former federal judge and her twin sister Janet is president of the civil rights organization UnidosUS, formerly the National Council of La Raza.
As chief judge, Judge Murguia assumes a variety of administrative responsibilities. In addition to hearing cases, she will chair two judicial policy-making bodies, the Executive Committee of the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals and the Judicial Council of the Ninth Circuit, and will represent the Ninth Circuit at biannual meetings of the Judicial Conference of the United States (JCUS), the judiciary’s national governing body. The chief judge also presides when an 11-judge en banc court is convened to resolve cases posing intra-circuit legal conflicts or to consider other matters deemed to be of exceptional importance.