Born and raised in California, Justice Duarte attended the Conservatory of Music at the University of the Pacific from 1984-1986. After receiving her Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of Southern California (USC) in 1989, she obtained her law degree from Stanford Law School in 1992. Upon graduation from Stanford, Justice Duarte moved from California to Washington, D.C., as one of 12 graduating law students selected nationwide to participate in the Attorney General’s Honor Program, Criminal Division, at the United States Department of Justice. While at the Department of Justice in Washington, she served as a Special Assistant United States Attorney, where she prosecuted criminal cases in the District of Columbia Superior Court.
In 1994, Justice Duarte returned to California as an Assistant United States Attorney in Sacramento from 1994-2000, prosecuting a wide variety of federal crimes from investigation through appeal. In 2000, she relocated to the Los Angeles Office of the United States Attorney, where she worked as an Assistant United States Attorney, first in the Major Frauds Section and later in the Cyber and Intellectual Property Crimes Section, becoming Section Chief in 2005. During her time in the Los Angeles office, she prosecuted complex fraud cases as well as all types of cyber and intellectual property rights crimes from investigation through appeal. While a federal prosecutor, she received numerous awards and commendations, including her September 2005 selection by the Daily Journal as one of the top 75 female litigators in California.
Justice Duarte has been an instructor of judicial education and has taught, lectured, and presented alone or as a panel member at Stanford Law School, San Francisco School of Law, University of Southern California Law Center, Santa Clara Law School, Loyola Law School, Southwestern Law School, and Pacific McGeorge Law School, where she continues as an adjunct professor. Topics include, among others, trial evidence, trial advocacy, cyber law, professionalism and civility, and collecting electronic evidence.
Active in her community, Justice Duarte has presided over local and national mock trial and moot court competitions for students from sixth grade through law school. She has mentored law students and young lawyers through her membership in various organizations in Los Angeles and Sacramento, and regularly visits high school classrooms to support government and civics education. Justice Duarte is active as a Judicial Master and member of the Executive Committee for the Anthony M. Kennedy American Inn of Court, an organization of judges, attorneys, and law students dedicated to promoting civility, ethics, and professionalism in the legal community.
In her leisure time, Justice Duarte trains for half-marathons, studies foreign languages, and enjoys spending time with her family.