Shama Hakim Mesiwala, Associate Justice

Shama Hakim Mesiwala is a native Californian, born in Stanford in 1974 and raised in Cupertino among the fruit orchards and burgeoning technology industries of Silicon Valley. Her father immigrated from Mumbai, India in the 1960’s for educational opportunities and freedoms found only in America. She attended all public schools, graduating from UC San Diego magna cum laude in three years. She started law school at UC Davis King Hall at age 20 and graduated in 1998.

Justice Mesiwala devoted her legal career to public service.  She represented indigent criminal defendants at the Office of the Federal Public Defender in Sacramento and the Central California Appellate Program, where she argued cases before the California Supreme Court and California Courts of Appeal.

Justice Mesiwala then transitioned to working for the judiciary. She was a central staff attorney at the California Court of Appeal, Third Appellate District for one and a half years, followed by a chamber’s attorney for Justice Ronald B. Robie for 11 years. She was appointed commissioner in 2017 and 10 months later, judge of the Sacramento County Superior Court. In her six years on the trial court, Justice Mesiwala presided over criminal jury trials, civil jury trials, civil bench trials, civil law and motion, civil settlement conferences, preliminary hearings, juvenile dependency, drug court, mental health hospital hearings, state hospital hearings, civil harassment restraining order hearings, collaborative courts, and small claims. She created Northern California’s first Indian Child Welfare Act courtroom. And she served as the Americans with Disabilities (ADA) judge for the Hall of Justice.

On Valentine’s Day 2023, Justice Mesiwala was unanimously confirmed as an associate justice on the California Court of Appeal, Third Appellate District, having been nominated by Governor Gavin Newsom. She was rated exceptionally well qualified, the highest rating given by the Commission on Judicial Nominees Evaluation (JNE).

Justice Mesiwala is active in the community. She has been professor of Appellate Advocacy to over 700 students at UC Davis Law School for the past eleven years; president of the Schwartz/Levi American Inn of Court; cofounder of the South Asian Bar Association of Sacramento and host of its annual Diversity Law Student Reception for 16 years; and member of the California Supreme Court Ethics Opinion Committee.

For her community service, Justice Mesiwala has received the UC Davis Law School’s pro bono certificate, the Unity Bar community service award, the Women Lawyers of Sacramento Frances Newell Carr award, the King Hall Legal Foundation’s judge of the year award, the ally award from Sacramento’s LGBTQ+ bar association SacLegal, the president’s award from the Asian Bar Association of Sacramento, and named a Sacramento Bee top 25 Asian American/Pacific Islander change maker.

Justice Mesiwala lives in Yolo County with her spouse of 21 years and their lively son.