On July 24, 2023, the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of California appointed Michelle M. Pettit as a full-time U.S. Magistrate Judge. Judge Pettit is based in San Diego and fills the vacancy left by retiring Magistrate Judge Mitchell Dembin.
The Judicial Conference of the United States determines the number and location of magistrate judges. By law, Judge Pettit had to meet certain criteria to become eligible for the position, including being a member in good standing of a state or territory’s highest court bar for at least five years. She also was vetted by a merit selection panel consisting of lawyers and non-lawyers from the San Diego community. Finally, Judge Pettit was selected by a vote of the U.S. District Judges of the Southern District of California. The San Diego FBA has a free presentation available on How to Apply to be a U.S. Magistrate Judge, which includes more information about the position and the application process.
Judge Pettit received a Bachelor of Science with distinction from the United States Naval Academy and graduated from Vanderbilt University Law School in 2001. Before joining the bench, she worked as an assistant U.S. attorney for more than 15 years, prosecuting several areas of crime including national security and cyber crime, fraud, drug-trafficking and child exploitation. Judge Pettit is a longtime and dedicated supporter of the FBA. She is a former president of the San Diego FBA, currently serves on the Chapter's Advisory Board, and serves on FBA national’s Board of Directors.
The San Diego FBA welcomes Judge Pettit to the Southern District’s bench.