Administrative Presiding Justice Judith McConnell was appointed to the Court of Appeal, Fourth Appellate District, Division One in August 2001, and took office upon her confirmation October 3, 2001. On September 25, 2003, she was confirmed as Presiding Justice of the court. On September 29, 2003, she was appointed by the Chief Justice as Administrative Presiding Justice of the Fourth Appellate District. She served for 23 years as a trial judge in San Diego (21 years on the Superior Court and 2 years on the Municipal Court). Her colleagues on the Superior Court twice elected her Presiding Judge. She also served as Presiding Judge of the Juvenile Court and Supervising Judge of the family, appellate, and civil law and motion departments during her tenure on the Superior Court.
During Justice McConnell's judicial career, she has worked to improve the court system through better case management and to make the courts more accessible to the public. Justice McConnell served two terms on the California Judicial Council, the rule making body for the state courts, and chaired the council's Superior Court and Planning committees. She was a member of the Blue Ribbon Task Force on Jury System Improvement, the Commission on the Future of the Courts, and the Advisory Committee on Gender Bias in the Courts.
In 2005, she was elected by the Supreme Court to serve on the Commission on Judicial Performance, an independent state agency responsible for judicial discipline, and served as chair from 2009 to 2012. In 2007, the Chief Justice appointed her to the Commission for Impartial Courts, where she served as chair of the Public Information and Education Task Force. She chaired the Leadership Group for Civic Education and currently chairs the Power of Democracy Steering Committee, established to improve civic education in California and to implement the recommendations of the California Task force on K-12 Civic Learning, which she co-chaired. In 2016, she received the Chief Justice’s Award for Exemplary Service and Leadership for her work in improving civic learning.
In 1997, Justice McConnell was elected to the American Law Institute. In addition, Justice McConnell has been on the faculty for numerous educational programs for judges and lawyers on such topics as case management, ethics, juvenile law and civil procedure. She served on the governing board for the California Center for Judicial Education and Research.
In 2001, Justice McConnell was named Jurist of the Year by the California Judicial Council. In 1999, she was the first recipient of the Benjamin Aranda Access to Justice Award presented jointly by the California Judicial Council, the California Judges Association and the State Bar of California.
Justice McConnell received a J.D. degree in 1969 from the University of California, Boalt Hall School of Law, and a B.A. degree in 1966 from the University of California, Berkeley, where she was awarded Phi Beta Kappa. Justice McConnell began her legal career in San Diego in 1969 at the State of California, Department of Transportation. She served as a trial attorney in the Department's Legal Division until 1976, when she entered private practice until her appointment to the San Diego Municipal Court in December 1977.