Gov. Gavin Newsom has appointed a new judge to San Luis Obispo Superior Court. Catherine Swysen, 61, has been chosen to replace Judge Ginger E. Garrett as the latter retires, according to a news release from Newsom’s office Tuesday.

Swysen, a Democrat, has been managing partner at Sanger, Swysen & Dunkle in Santa Maria since 1997, where she held several positions since 1992, including associate and law clerk.

It’s the same firm where Robert Sanger, the defense attorney representing Paul Flores in the Kristin Smart murder trial, is senior partner.

According to her biography on the firm’s website, Swysen is “an experienced trial and appellate lawyer” who has handled “major criminal and civil cases in state and federal courts.”

She also handles educational matters for students and faculty in administrative and disciplinary matters in the University of California and California State University systems and Santa Barbara City College, the website said.

Swysen earned a license in history from the Université Libre de Bruxelles in 1984 and earned her law degree from Santa Barbara College of Law in 1994.

She is cleared to practice law by the State Bar of California; U.S. District Courts for the Central, Southern, Northern and Eastern Districts of California; and the United States Supreme Court, the website said.

She is a member of the Santa Barbara County Bar Association, American Bar Association, California Attorneys for Criminal Justice and National Association of Criminal Defense Attorneys, as well as a fellow of the American Bar Foundation.