Monday afternoon was one for the history books in Santa Barbara County when Denise Hippach was sworn onto the bench by Presiding Judge Gustavo Lavayen at a ceremony in Santa Maria; Hippach is the first African-American Superior Court judge in the county.

Previously a senior deputy attorney with the County Counsel’s office, Judge Hippach has an extensive résumé since graduating from the USC School of Law and passing the bar in 2003. She served as a prosecutor in Riverside County and in Canyon County, Idaho, as well as with the Idaho Attorney General’s Office. She was a panel attorney for California’s Judicial Council’s indigent appellants program, a staff attorney with L.A. Dependency Lawyers, and Deputy County Counsel for Los Angeles County.

She was appointed by Governor Newsom to take the place of retiring Judge Jim Herman, whose term was to expire in 2024.

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