LOS ANGELES – A female deputy district attorney prosecuting the most violent gang-related crimes in Los Angeles County – and whose father was an anti-Marcos activist – has become the first elected Filipino-American judge in the LA Superior Court.
Teresa P. Magno, 43, was officially declared as judge-elect of the LA Superior Court – the largest trial court in the United States – after the Registrar’s Office certified the election results on Monday (Tuesday in Manila). She will begin her term in January 2015.
The first Fil-Am judge in the US, LA Superior Court Judge Mel Recana, gained a Los Angeles Municipal Court seat in 1981 by appointment. Magno is the court’s first elected Fil-Am judge.
“There is no doubt in my mind that Ms. Magno could hit the ground running, said Judge David Milton, Magno’s predecessor. “She has the experience, intellect, temperament, sense of responsibility and perspective to set aside the prosecutor’s hat and don the black robe.”
Milton retired February this year and endorsed Magno, who ran last month against Songhai Armstead for LA Superior Court Office No. 97, the seat vacated by Milton.
Born and raised in the Philippines, Magno migrated to the US in 1987 when she was 16 years old.
Magno became a student leader at the University of California Los Angeles, where she pursued her undergraduate and law degrees. She was president of her graduating class in law school.
Magno’s fellow student leader at UCLA, Cerritos Mayor Mark Pulido, congratulated the incoming judge on her “historic election.”
“Teresa was definitely one of our most gifted, dynamic leaders on campus,” recalled Pulido, the first Fil-Am mayor of Cerritos who recently led the first Philippine Independence Day celebration in the city.
Pulido and Magno served together on the Board of the UCLA Samahang Pilipino. As UCLA student body president, Pulido said he appointed Magno to the university’s Communications Board to oversee several publications and the campus radio station.
Daughter of Anti-Marcos activist
In an interview with the Asian Journal last year, Magno said her father was an anti-Marcos activist and that a colleague of her father became one of the victims of the extra-judicial killings under the Marcos regime. Her father’s experience motivated her to fight for justice, Magno said.
As a gang homicide prosecutor in the Hardcore Gang Division of the District Attorney’s Office, Magno prosecuted hundreds of serious felonies and handled 41 gang-related murder cases.
She has been recognized by advocacy groups, such as the Justice for Homicide Victims, for her staunch commitment to help crime victims.
Magno has received commendations from numerous agencies, including the LA District Attorney’s Office, San Bernardino District Attorney’s Office and the LA Police Department.
“Teresa’s experience as a deputy district attorney prosecuting the most violent offenders as well as her work as a victim’s advocate has given her the knowledge and fortitude to make the right and fair decisions as a member of the bench,” said Erick Lee, president of the Gardena Police Officers’ Association, one of several organizations that endorsed Magno’s candidacy.