Rosemary McGuire will hear her last case this week before she retires from her 12-year career as a Fresno County judge.
McGuire said she looks forward to retirement from the legal career that she entered in the mid-stage of her life. Her last official day is Jan. 20.
“I think it’s time. I’ve been with the court for 12 years, and I was a civil litigator for about 17 years. And prior to that, I worked as a paralegal and law clerk. So I’m just ready to move on to something new,” McGuire said.
That “something new,” McGuire said, is “relaxing and experiencing not working.”
Law as a Second Act
After raising her children, McGuire studied to become a paralegal. After eight years working alongside attorneys, she went to San Joaquin College of Law at night and earned a Juris Doctorate in 1994.
“I wouldn’t say it’s a second career because I really didn’t have a career before,” McGuire said. “It was later on. I had a family when I was young and I was home with my family, my kids. And then when they went to school, I decided to try something different,” McGuire said.
McGuire rose to a partner at Weakley, Ratliff, Arendt & McGuire. She was then tabbed to become a judge in 2010 by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger.
She has presided in family court and, for the last four years, in civil trials.
Respect for the Jury System
Her favorite aspect of the job is interacting with attorneys and jurors at trial.
“The process that we have with the juries deciding civil cases is a good process. I believe in the Seventh Amendment right to a jury trial. And when you get the collective experiences of 12 people, I think in most cases they reach the right conclusion. And attorneys work really hard. I know that because I was a litigator and I did try cases and I just enjoy watching them in court, knowing that they’ve prepared hard for their case and they are zealously representing their client,” McGuire said.
The pandemic was one of the biggest changes in her time on the court. She praised jurors willing to serve, even with masks and social distancing.
“It was an adjustment for the court. I think it was an adjustment for the litigants, and I think we’ve evolved into a situation where there are fewer actual in-person court appearances than there were before all of this,” McGuire said.
Gov. Gavin Newsom is expected to name a replacement for McGuire.