Santa Barbara County Superior Court Judge Kristy Imel
Assistant Presiding Judge Patricia Kelly, left, of the Santa Barbara County Superior Court administers the oath to new judge Kristy Imel on Tuesday morning in Santa Maria. (Santa Barbara County Superior Court photo)

The Santa Barbara County Superior Court’s newest judge took the oath of office Tuesday morning.

With her husband and son helping her, Kristy Imel donned her black robe during the ceremony in Santa Maria Department 8 as other Santa Barbara County judges, her family and friends, and court staff watched.

Additionally, San Luis Obispo County Superior Court Judge Matt Guerrero attended the ceremony in person.

“I’m so very excited to introduce our newest colleague and judicial member of our bench Kristy Imel,” Assistant Presiding Judge Patricia Kelly said.

The swearing-in ceremony took place less than a week after her appointment by Gov. Gavin Newsom and “to my great relief is immediately being sworn into our bench,” Kelly said. 

“We’re going to put her to work now,” Kelly added.

Imel, who had served as a deputy district attorney at the San Luis Obispo County District Attorney’s Office since 2010,noted the warm welcome that followed Gov. Newsom’s appointment.

“I’m so excited to be back in Santa Barbara County. It’s really full circle,” she said.

She earned a juris doctor degree from the Santa Barbara and Ventura Colleges of Law, where a fellow student was now Santa Barbara County Superior Court Judge Von Deroian.

In addition to her new judicial colleagues, Imel noted clerks, interpreters, secretaries “as the heart and soul of court operations,” adding that she “couldn’t wait to work shoulder to shoulder with you.”

Imel previously worked at the Merced County District Attorney’s Office from 2007 to 2010 and as an adjunct professor at Merced College from 2008 to 2009. 

Santa Barbara County Superior Court Judge Kristy Imel.
New Santa Barbara County Superior Court Judge Kristy Imel hugs her son after donning her black robe during the swearing-in ceremony on Tuesday. (Santa Barbara County Superior Court photo)

She filled the vacancy created by the retirement of Judge Arthur Garcia late last year. 

Imel will undergo orientation for her new job with her assignment yet to be determined. However, recent rookie judges have been assigned to handle arraignment court as their first gig wielding the gavel.