Maria D. Hernandez

Profile Presiding JudgeSuperior Court of CaliforniaCounty of Orange

The Honorable Maria D. Hernandez was appointed to the bench as a commissioner in 2006 and appointed by Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger as a judge in 2009. She was elected as assistant presiding judge of the Superior Court of Orange County in 2021 and then elected as presiding judge in January 2023. Prior to serving on the bench, she worked as a senior deputy public defender in Orange County. Judge Hernandez received her bachelor’s degree from the University of California, Irvine, and her juris doctor degree from Western State College of Law.     Judge Hernandez spent nine years with the juvenile court, serving as the presiding judge of the juvenile court from 2014 to 2018, where she created and presided over the dedicated court addressing commercially sexually exploited children (CSEC) and cochaired the Orange County Committee relating to boys in the child welfare system. She recently launched a Young Adult Court, which addresses the special needs of emerging adults charged with felonies in the criminal justice system.    Judge Hernandez has served on numerous state, county, and local advisory task force committees including the former Chief Justice Cantil-Sakauye’s “Keeping Kids in School and Out of Court Initiative” and the Judicial Council Advisory Committee on Providing Access and Fairness. She is a longstanding faculty member for the Center for Judicial Education and Research. Judge Hernandez received a Distinguished Service Award in 2016.