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The Honorable Roger T. Benitez '78 was first appointed to the Superior Court of California in 1997, after previously working in general practice with a law firm. He served as Presiding Judge of the Appellate Division before being appointed as a United States Magistrate Judge for the Southern District in 2001. In 2004, he was appointed to the District Judge position he now holds. Judge Benitez has sat by designation numerous times with the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals and also has sat on assignment in Arizona, Guam and Saipan. He is a charter member of the Wallace Inn of Court, currently chairs the Southern District's IT Committee and is a member of the U.S. Judicial Conference Committee on Financial Disclosure, having been appointed by Chief Justice John Roberts.
Judge Benitez attended Central Union High School in El Centro, California, Imperial Valley Community College, San Diego State University and Western State University College of Law San Diego (now Thomas Jefferson School of Law).
Prior to becoming a district judge, he was in general practice with the firm of Heim, Benitez & Driskill. He was admitted to practice before all state courts in California as well as the United States District Courts for the Southern, Central, Northern and Eastern Districts of California. He was also a part-time instructor at Imperial Valley College where he taught various courses in the Paralegal Certification Program.
Judge Benitez has presided over three multi-district cases by assignment of the Judicial Panel on Multi-district Litigation, including a wage/hour litigation case and a securities action. He is currently a member of the Patent Pilot Project Panel of the Southern District of California and is a former member of the State-Federal Judicial Council and the Ninth Circuit Education Committee. He is also a member of the San Diego Federal Bar Association and the Federal Judges Association.
His other interests have included participating in various capacities in the Constitutional Rights Foundation High School Mock Trial Program. He helped coach the Central Union High School Mock Trial Team to the 1986 State Championship. He was actively involved in youth soccer and served on the California Youth Soccer Association Board of Directors from 1985 to 1994. He also managed a U-19 team that won a state championship in 1994. Judge Benitez was also an active member of a search and rescue organization, DeAnza Rescue Unit, for eleven years. He served on the El Centro Planning Commission from 1989 to 1994 and served as its chair in 1991-1992. He was on the Imperial County Private Industry Council Board of Directors and also a member of the Imperial County Water Board. He was a member of the board of directors of the Imperial County Bar Association and served as its president in 1988.