Charles S. Poochigian

Charles S. Poochigian photo Justice Charles S. Poochigian was appointed to the Court of Appeal, Fifth Appellate District by Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger in August 2009.  His legal career began in 1975 when he formed a partnership with Steven M. Vartabedian.  His practice consisted of representing clients in both litigation and transactional matters involving real estate, contracts, general business counseling, wills and probate. Following 13 years of private practice in Fresno, he was appointed to the senior staff of Governor George Deukmejian in 1988 and was later named to the senior staff of Governor Pete Wilson for whom he served as Appointments Secretary. As Appointments Secretary, he assisted the Governor in his appointments of key executive branch officials and members of state boards and commissions. His primary focus was assisting the Governor in his selection of judges for California's trial and appellate courts.

In 1994, he was elected to the California State Assembly, where he served from 1994-1998. He then served two terms in the California State Senate (1998-2006). While in the Legislature, he distinguished himself for his substantial legislative and policy work covering a wide range of subject matter, including criminal justice, education reform, workers' compensation law, taxation, agriculture, budget, environment and natural resources. He held numerous leadership positions including service as Chair of the Assembly Appropriations Committee in his first term, chair of the Constitutional Amendments Committee, a member of the Little Hoover Commission and Vice-Chair of the Senate Public Safety Committee, among many other committee leadership roles and assignments.

Following his legislative service and prior to his appointment to the bench, he practiced law with Dowling, Aaron and Keeler in Fresno, principally representing clients on matters involving regulatory issues.

Background and Education

  • Born in Fresno, California, and a third generation resident of the San Joaquin Valley
  • Married to wife, Debbie; three adult children and four grandchildren
  • J.D., Santa Clara University School of Law, 1975
  • Bachelor of Science, Business Administration, California State University, Fresno, 1972
  • Served in the California Air National Guard
  • Member, California Fair Employment and Housing Commission (1985 - 1987)

Accomplishments and Recognition

During his legislative career as an Assemblyman and Senator, Justice Poochigian authored or co-authored major laws including reforming California's workers' compensation law, reforming the Cal Grant student aid system (Ortiz-Pacheco-Poochigian-Vasconcellos Cal Grant Program), improving parental access to reliable information about school performance, providing comprehensive reform of the special education funding system, establishing the California Summer School for Math and Science (COSMOS), establishing the model Rural Crime Prevention Program serving Central California and founding the Kenneth L. Maddy Institute at CSU Fresno. He also worked to strengthen California laws related to identity theft.

Justice Poochigian received numerous special awards during his legislative tenure. He was named "Rookie of the Year" in his first term and received other recognition from the well-respected California Journal during his career, including its 2004 Minnie Award for legislative integrity. In 2004, he received the California State University, Fresno, Distinguished Alumnus “Top Dog” Award.

Board Memberships and Community Involvement

  • Commission for Impartial Courts - Task Force on Judicial Selection and Retention by appointment of Ronald M. George, Chief Justice of the California Supreme Court and Chair of the California Judicial Council.
  • Commission on the Future of California’s Court System (Futures Commission) by appointment of Tani Cantil-Sakauye, Chief Justice of the California Supreme Court and Chair of the California Judicial Council (2014-2017)
  • Past board member of the Economic Development Corporation of Fresno County.
  • Past board member and vice-chair of the Maddy Institute for Public Policy at California State University, Fresno
  • California State University, Fresno, Alumni Association - Life member
  • Boys and Girls Clubs of Fresno County - Board of Trustees
  • Past board member of Ag One Foundation (supporting CSU Fresno College of Agriculture)

(Rev. 2018)