Richard T. Fields, Associate Justice

Associate Justice Richard T. FieldsJustice Richard T. Fields presided in the courts of Riverside County for twenty-six years prior to his appointment and subsequent confirmation to the Court of Appeal on February 9, 2017. During the years 2007 and 2008, Justice Fields served as the Presiding Judge of the entire Riverside County Court System.  Prior to his appointment as a Judge of the Superior Court, Justice Fields served as a Court Commissioner for over nine years.  When selected as a Court Commissioner in 1991, Justice Fields became the first African-American jurist in the history of Riverside County.  In April 2000, Justice Fields became the first African-American judge in Riverside County.

During his time on the superior court bench, he heard traffic arraignments, traffic trials, misdemeanor arraignments, felony arraignments, preliminary hearings and misdemeanor and felony jury trials including a numerous murder cases--both capital and non-capital. He handled the master arraignment, master trial readiness, and master trial calendars.  Additionally, he handled a civil trial calendar and presided over a variety of civil matters including medical, legal and dental malpractice actions, personal injury lawsuits and wrongful death cases.

Justice Fields graduated with honors from the California State University, Fullerton in January 1981, receiving the degree of Bachelor of Arts with a major in Sociology and a minor in Spanish. He completed his bachelor’s degree in only 3 ½ years. He received the degree of Juris Doctor from Western State University College of Law in May 1983. He completed his law degree in just 2 ½ years. While at Western State, he was on the Honor Roll, named to Who’s Who Among Students in American Universities and Colleges, named to Outstanding Young Men of America, named to the National Dean’s List, was an Honor’s Moot Court advocate, served as a “Don” program mentor and received a letter of commendation for outstanding service on the Law Review. Justice Fields was also awarded the degree of Master of Laws in Taxation from the University of San Diego School of Law in December 1987. Justice Fields also received the degree of Master of Laws in Alternative Dispute Resolution from the University of Southern California Gould School of Law where he received the high G.P.A. letter, served as a student ambassador and student mentor and graduated with a cumulative G.P.A. of 3.97.

During his career, Justice Fields has received numerous awards and commendations. He was selected as a Reginald Heber Smith Fellow in 1983. He has been cited for outstanding service by the Riverside County Board of Supervisors. In 1997, he was named to the Western State University Hall of Fame. Also, in 1997, he received the outstanding achievement award of the African American Attorneys of the Inland Empire. In 2001, he received the Volunteer of the Year Award for Liberty Elementary School. In 2007, he received the Southwest Bar Association’s Judge of the Year award. In 2008, he was named as Judge of the Year by the Riverside-San Bernardino Chapter of the American Board of Trial Advocates. In June 2009, he received the Outstanding Jurist Award from the Leo A. Deegan Inn of Court. In 2013, he received the Alba Witkin Humanitarian Award from the California Judges Association. He also been honored for judicial excellence by the California Association of Black Lawyers and the 100 Black Men of the Inland Empire. In 2016, he was named the Leo A. Deegan Inn of Court Douglass E. Weathers Distinguished Honoree and received the Champions of Justice Award from Fair Housing Council of Riverside County Inc. In 2019, he received the Stephen K. Tamura Award from the Asian Pacific American Lawyers of the Inland Empire.

Justice Fields has dedicated his life to community service. As a member and past president of the Riverside Sunrise Rotary Club, he has been involved in mentoring students, assisting with major immunization drives, assisting at the Inland Aids Walk, sending students to leadership camp, participating in a “lunch buddy” program where he has met special elementary students for lunchtime fellowship.

He has also served as a mock trial judge and/or judicial mentor for approximately 23 years. He was a speaker/mentor for a program entitled, “The Endangered Black Male, A Call to Action.” He was a speaker at the Minority Male Charette, 1996. He has been a guest lecturer at the University of California, Riverside, Afro-Ethnic Studies Department. He has been a speaker at Lincoln High School at special assemblies on career goals. He has been a speaker at the 2nd Baptist and the Park Avenue Baptist Churches in Riverside. He has participated in a holiday party for emergency shelter kids and been involved in numerous other activities. He served as president of the Leo A. Deegan Inn of Court of Riverside from 1999 to 2002. He has also served as a Riverside County Bar Association speaker for “Bridging the Gap” and other programs. He was a founding director and past president of the Corona Parent Advisory Group—a group dedicated to bridging the achievement gap between African American students and other ethnicities. That group sponsors college and career field trips, provides scholarships and hosts an academic achievement awards banquet each year for deserving students.

He has been the graduation speaker for the Alternative Sentencing Program as well as Riverside County’s Drug Program. In March 2003, he was the guest speaker for the Riverside NAACP’s 54th Annual Freedom Fund Banquet. In 2004, he was the speaker in a special program at the courthouse steps commemorating the Brown vs. Board of Education decision. Additionally, he has been the grand marshal of both the Riverside and Moreno Valley Black History Parades. In 2007, he was the commencement speaker for California Baptist University. In 2008 and 2016, he was the commencement speaker for Western State College of Law.

Judge Fields has been often heard to say, “it’s never too difficult, it’s never too late and you are never too old” to accomplish your dreams. Judge Fields has been married to his wife, Donna (Clinical Laboratory Scientist), for 35 years and has two children—Richard Jr. and Denee and two grandchildren.