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Wednesday, December 12 , 2018, 8:22 pm | Fog/Mist 51º


Judge Frank Ochoa Establishes Scholarship Fund for Local Students

The Judge Frank Ochoa Scholarship will support local students attending law school or planning to attend law school who have expressed an interest in addressing Latina/o civil rights and/or political issues in their legal careers.

Judge Ochoa established the new scholarship fund to be administered by the Scholarship Foundation of Santa Barbara as a celebration of his retirement. The fund, supported by many who worked with and know Judge Ochoa, is a capstone to a distinguished 32-year career spent safeguarding civil rights and developing alternative solutions to help offenders break the cycle of repeat offenses.

"I am extremely gratified that my family, friends and the Santa Barbara legal community found the funding of this scholarship to be worthy of their support. I can’t think of a better way to encourage more students to choose careers in the legal field and become engaged citizens than to support their education," Judge Ochoa said. "We all benefit greatly when we create opportunities for young people to obtain college and professional degrees and launch successful careers."

Judge Ochoa was born and raised in Long Beach. He earned bachelor of arts degrees in English and history from UCSB and studied law at the UC Davis School of Law. In 1980, he became the executive director of the Legal Aid Foundation of Santa Barbara County. In 1983, at age 32, he was appointed to the Municipal Court by Gov. Jerry Brown, making him the youngest judge in the state at the time. He also became the court's first Spanish surnamed judge in this century.

He was elected to the Superior Court in 1996. As presiding judge, he managed the court through the unification process, merging the Municipal Courts with the Superior Court. He launched two successful adult drug court programs in Santa Barbara, the Substance Abuse Treatment Court and the Clean and Sober Calendar. These calendars offer intensive, court supervised treatment to drug offenders. He also started a Juvenile Drug Court program and founded the Court Administered Appropriate Dispute Resolution program (CADRe) to provide early alternative dispute resolution opportunities for civil litigants.

Judge Ochoa is a former president of the Board of Directors of the Santa Barbara and Ventura Colleges of Law. He later served as a professor at the Santa Barbara College of Law, teaching courses on legal process, statutory law and legal ethics. He currently teaches in the Political Science Department at UCSB.

— Raissa Smorol is the development director for the Scholarship Foundation of Santa Barbara.

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