O'Leary Reelected as Presiding Judge

The first woman to serve as presiding judge of Orange County Superior Court has won a second term.

In a recent election, Judge Kathleen E. O'Leary received the unanimous endorsement of 61 judges for the term that begins in January.

"She is very well-respected by the court," said Mary Lou Des Rochers, an assistant executive officer.

Presiding duties include making judicial assignments and schedules for judges, commissioners and court referees and working with committees. The presiding judge also handles administrative responsibilities, including budget and policy decisions.

In accordance with custom, O'Leary, 47, is not expected to serve a third term.

"There's no cap on the number of years they can serve," Des Rochers said. "Generally, by tradition, they don't offer to run again. It's a very demanding job."

O'Leary was appointed to the Superior Court in 1986. She was appointed to Orange County Municipal Court in 1981, serving in the Westminster branch. Before that, she was an Orange County public defender from 1975-86. She passed the bar in 1975 after attending Southwestern University School of Law in Los Angeles.

In 1997, O'Leary succeeded Theodore E. Millard as presiding judge in Superior Court.

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