He served as assistant presiding judge in 2011 and 2012, and replaced Judge Brian Hill as presiding judge starting Jan. 1.
Garcia was appointed as a judge in 2003 by then-Gov. Gray Davis, filling the vacancy left when Judge Rick Brown retired.
He has served as presiding judge, presiding judge of the Juvenile Court and assistant presiding judge for Santa Barbara County Superior Court.
Before that, Garcia was appointed as court commissioner in 1996 and served in Santa Maria Juvenile Court. He was part of a successful private practice — Chern, Brenneman and Garcia — from the time after earning his bachelor of arts and juris doctor degrees from Loyola Marymount University.
He has handled felony and misdemeanor criminal cases in family and juvenile law, Blair said.
Garcia has also been a member of the National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges, the California Juvenile Judges Association, the California Judges Association and the California Association of Drug Court Professionals.
Judge James Herman is Superior Court’s assistant presiding judge for the next two years. He handles the criminal arraignment court for Santa Barbara now. The court always has the presiding and assistant presiding judge from different divisions so they can represent the entire county’s court operations, Blair said.
Herman was appointed as a judge in 2005 after practicing as a complex civil litigation attorney for 20 years and serving as a deputy public defender before that. Since being appointed, Herman has presided over criminal and civil cases in both Santa Maria and Santa Barbara. He has also served as presiding judge over Juvenile Court.
Blair also announced the appointment of Darrel Parker to the new position of chief deputy executive officer for countywide court operations. Parker has been the assistant executive officer for North County operations since 1997 and will work to find cost-saving efficiencies in the way courts operate, Blair said.
“The goal is to identify possible efficiencies in the organization, which will save the court money in light of multiple and continuing years of state funding cutbacks to all trial courts. The court must determine which core services are most important and better ways to perform the work of the court,” Blair said in a statement.
Parker will oversee all court operations except finance, human resources and information technology.