On December 17, 2021, the U.S. Senate confirmed U.S. Magistrate Judge Linda Lopez as a U.S. District Judge for the Southern District of California. Judge Lopez fills the seat formerly held by Judge Roger Benitez, who took senior status in December 2017.
Born in Miami, Florida, Judge Lopez received her B.A. from Florida International University in 1996. Judge Lopez graduated magna cum laude from FIU while working as a paralegal, and then as a law clerk, at a small criminal defense firm. Following college, Judge Lopez attended law school at the University of Miami School of Law, where she served as an editor for the University of Miami Law Review. She received her J.D. in 1999, again graduating magna cum laude.
After passing the Florida Bar in 1999, Judge Lopez began her career working at a criminal defense firm. Four short years later, Judge Lopez opened her own criminal defense firm where she represented retained defendants and indigent defendants in both state and federal court. Judge Lopez developed a passion for working with indigent defendants. Following a move to San Diego in 2007, she joined the Federal Defenders of San Diego as a Senior Trial Attorney where she represented indigent defendants charged with violations of federal law.
On October 26, 2018, Judge Lopez was appointed as a U.S. Magistrate Judge for the Southern District of California. As a Magistrate Judge, she managed both criminal and civil dockets. During her time as a Magistrate Judge and throughout her entire career, Judge Lopez dedicated herself to public service. She has been involved and held leadership positions with the U.S. District Court’s Community Outreach Committee, the San Diego Chapter of the Federal Bar Association, the Welsh Inn of Court, and the Enright Inn of Court.
Judge Lopez will join the recently appointed Judge Jinsook Ohta as the Southern District’s first new District Judges since the Honorable Todd Robinson took the bench in September 2020.
You can learn more about Judge Lopez in our judicial profile authored by her Career Law Clerk.