MONTEREY COUNTY — Monterey County Superior Court Presiding Judge Pamela L. Butler has announced that the Honorable Rafael Vazquez has been elected by the bench to serve as the Court’s next Assistant Presiding Judge, commencing his term Jan. 1, 2024.
Judge Vazquez will serve as Assistant Presiding Judge in 2024-25 and as Presiding Judge in 2026-27.
Current Assistant Presiding Judge Carrie M. Panetta will commence her term as Presiding Judge effective Jan. 1, 2024, and will serve as Presiding Judge in 2024-25.
Vazquez has served on the Monterey County Superior Court bench since 2017, after being appointed to that position by Gov. Jerry Brown. He currently presides over a felony trial department and serves as the Criminal Division Supervisor, Chair of the Finance Committee, and is on the Judicial Mentorship Program Committee. He previously served as an assistant district attorney at the Santa Cruz County District Attorney’s Office from 2010 to 2017.
Vazquez was also an associate at Kazan, McClain, Abrams, Lyons, Harley and Greenwood PLC from 2008 to 2009. From 2007 to 2008, he was also an associate at Abramson Church and Stave LLP. He also served as the deputy district attorney for the Alameda County District Attorney’s Office from 2004 to 2007, where he handled cases involving murder, child sexual assault and criminal street gang crimes.
Vazquez is a Monterey County native and grew up in South Monterey County. He was raised by an immigrant family and was the first in his family to receive education beyond the sixth grade. He earned his bachelor’s degree in criminal justice in 2000 from San Jose State University and a master’s degree in criminal justice in 2001. In 2004, he completed his juris doctor degree from the University of San Francisco Law School.
Vazquez has also served as a mentor to many young people in Salinas through various volunteer agencies, such as youth sports organizations, including youth baseball, and has served as a volunteer providing advocacy to victims of domestic violence and sexual assault. He also focused on protecting farmworker women from sexual assault in the fields.
Vazquez also continues to serve as a mentor to students from Hartnell College and the University of San Francisco School of Law.
“I am deeply grateful that Judge Panetta and Judge Vazquez are willing to take on these important leadership roles in fulfilling the Court’s mission to provide access to justice to the people of Monterey County,” Butler said. “I hope you will join me in welcoming Judge Panetta and Judge Vazquez in their new Judicial Leadership roles.”