Rodney Davis was nominated by Governor George Deukmejian in 1989 to serve as an associate justice for the California Court of Appeal, Third Appellate District. He was confirmed by the Commission on Judicial Qualifications and elected to a full term in November of the following year.
Prior to serving on the Court of Appeal, Justice Davis served as a trial judge for the Sacramento Superior Court from 1985-1989, and for the Sacramento Municipal Court from 1983-1985. During his judicial career, he served as Justice Pro Tempore for the California Supreme Court and Presiding Special Master for the Commission on Judicial Performance. He also served as Chair of the Judicial Council's Appellate Indigent Defense Oversight Advisory Committee and Chair of the California Judges Association's Judicial Discipline Committee.
Before becoming a judge, Justice Davis served under three attorneys general while working for the California Department of Justice. Under John Van de Kamp, he served as Chief of the statewide Medi-Cal Fraud Unit, which consisted of over 90 lawyers, investigators, auditors, and support staff. Under George Deukmejian, he served as Supervising Deputy of the Medi-Cal Fraud Unit's Sacramento and San Francisco regional offices. Under Evelle Younger, he served as a prosecutor in the Criminal Division. During his career with the Department of Justice, Justice Davis served five months as an acting district attorney for Sierra County and as a Special Assistant for the U.S. Attorney, Northern District of California.
Justice Davis received a bachelor's degree from UC Davis in 1971. That fall, he moved to San Francisco where he received his law degree from the University of California, Hastings College of Law in 1974. While there, he served on the staff of the Hastings Constitutional Law Quarterly. In 1979 he received a master's degree in public administration from the University of Southern California. He completed judicial training programs at New York University Law School's Appellate Institute, California's Witkin Judicial College, and Kansas University's Law and Organizational Economics Center.
Justice Davis authored over 200 published opinions on subjects ranging from the constitutionality of unitary taxation of foreign corporations to grazing rights of cattle located on the remaining open ranges in California. He published articles in legal periodicals for organizations such as the American Bar Association, the American Judges Association, and the California Judges Association. He lectured for the UC Davis Leadership Development Series (Exercising Leadership Through the Initiative Process) and Sacramento Judicial Training (Ethics for the Judges Pro Tempore). He also taught courses for California's Center for Judicial Education and Research, the California Judges Association, The Rutter Group, and California's Continuing Education of the Bar.
Born in 1949 in Sacramento, California, Justice Davis was raised in Sacramento and Plumas counties. He is the son of former Assemblywoman Pauline Davis and former Assemblyman Lester Davis, and the husband of Susan Baxter Davis. They have two sons, Kevin and Brian. His community activities included serving as vice-president of the River City Youth Soccer League, club manager of the Del Dayo Soccer Club, board member of Saint Michael's Episcopal Day School, and senior warden of Saint Michael's Episcopal Church. In 2001, UC Davis selected Justice Davis as the recipient of its Jerry W. Fielder Award for contributions to the University, its alumni, and Foundation. He also was awarded the UC Davis Citation for Excellence. Justice Davis was president of the UC Davis alumni association, trustee of the UC Davis Foundation, Chair of the UC Davis Health System's Leadership Council and member of the Health System's Bioethics and Clinical Pastoral Services Advisory Boards. He was also president of the UC Davis Milton Schwartz Chapter of the American Inns of Court, an organization promoting ethics and civility in the legal profession.
Justice Davis retired from the Court in February 2009 to become an Episcopal priest in the Diocese of Northern California. His masters of divinity degree is from Church Divinity School of the Pacific, the Episcopal Church's western seminary located in Berkeley, California.