One year ago, I left the Santa Cruz County Attorney's Office to run for judge and to dedicate my time and efforts to expanding my personal and professional perspectives to be a more well-rounded candidate for your consideration.

While I am proud to have served you as an attorney who handled criminal and civil cases for the county for 8.5 years, I am equally proud of opening up my own law firm – dedicated exclusively to defending indigent persons in criminal and civil cases – and in helping my clients achieve justice in 130 cases over the past year.

Additionally, as a proponent of higher education, I have proudly taught courses on criminal law and procedure at local colleges since 2015 and have also provided free legal trainings to local police/detention officers, firefighters, paramedics and attorneys.

Over the past 23 years, I have worked in the following 25 fields of law:
Administrative, appeals, contract, eminent domain (as legal secretary), civil asset forfeiture, criminal, election, employment, conservatorship, guardianship, immigration (as volunteer), juvenile delinquency, juvenile dependency, mental health, and planning and zoning.

Post-Conviction relief, public health, public meeting, public records, public works, protective orders and injunctions against harassment, special actions, torts (as legal secretary and self-represented plaintiff), victim rights and wills/trusts/estates law (as a personal representative).

In my humble opinion, your next judge should be as well-versed in as many fields of law as possible because judges in rural counties like ours are expected to handle caseloads that do, in fact, encompass many different fields of law. As a result, we need a judge who can readily handle cases spread out across a wide legal spectrum. For that reason, I hope you look at my diverse experience in both law and education and choose me as your next judge.

On a final note, in the Oct. 2 edition of the NI, my opponent said: “I have done jury trials and I have extensive courtroom experience – that is something that is unmatched by my opponent [Rueda].” She adds: “(Rueda) has not done a jury trial in the court where he now wants to be a judge….” I take no pleasure in pointing out that her statements about me are incorrect.

The truth is that I, too, “have extensive courtroom experience” and “have done jury trials,” including one in Superior Court, where I want to be judge. In fact, I have conducted jury trials since 2009 and I am in court every week representing clients in civil and criminal cases. While I know my opponent would never intentionally spread misinformation, it is clear from her statements that she jumped to conclusions without first looking at the facts.

Thank you kindly for your time and consideration and for thinking about what is best for Santa Cruz County.

(Rueda is a candidate for judge of Division 2 of Santa Cruz County Superior Court.)

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