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Our Opinion: A new kind of judge

June 17, 2002

One of the Imperial Valley's own was sworn in as a Superior Court judge Friday. While that may not be unusual, that the native will be the first woman to serve on the Superior Court bench made it a historic moment.

We are sure Annie Gutierrez, a proven prosecutor with the U.S. Attorney General's Office in El Centro and the local District Attorney's Office, wouldn't want people to focus on that she is the first female judge. What she would want to be noted for is abilities that have led her to this point.

Gutierrez should be a fine judge on many levels. She has a proven record of being tough on criminals, but she comes to her new role declaring her interest in being a fair and understanding judge who will create an atmosphere in which the law can be protected.

The fact that she is local is no minor point. She cares about the Valley. She cares about protecting the lives and rights of those who reside here — even those accused of crimes.

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That she is the first female Superior Court judge in the Imperial Valley does deserve some note because of what it says about the area. Times are changing in our little valley and Gutierrez's appointment is a sign of that. She is even more of a role model for young women in the Valley, showing that they can achieve anything they want.

The Imperial Valley is in no way a hindrance to success. With an ever-increasing focus on education and less racial and ethnic discrimination than most places, the Valley can foster the kind of success any young person might dream of. As Gutierrez can attest, it takes hard work and determination, but dreams can be reached.

We hope Gutierrez will take time from her busy schedule to talk to kids about what it took for her to become a judge and what it will take for them to succeed.

Gutierrez is certainly deserving of the appointment. She has a long and varied career in government service and the law, and should bring a unique perspective to the bench in many different ways.

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