SDLRLA Award Recipients

SDLRLA ATTORNEY OF THE YEAR AWARD                                     

2023 – Alvin Gomez

2022 – Hector Jimenez

2021 – Maria Nuñez

2020 – Anthony Medina

2019 – Guillermo Escobedo

2018 – Members of the ACLU

2017 – Jose Castillo

2016 – Maricela Amezola

2015 – Victor Nuñez

2014 – George Aguilar

2013-  Kevin Keenan

2012 – Jose Garza Badillo

2011 – Victor Torres

2010 – Carmen Chavez

2009 – Yuri Calderon

2008 – Michael Perez

2007 – John Gomez



2023 – Guillermo Escobedo

2022 – Michael Perez

2021 – Catherine Arambula & Rob Howard

2019 – Nadia & Eran Bermudez

2015 – Anna Jauragui-Law

2014 – Lilia Garcia



2023 – Arcela Nuñez

2022 – Sean Elo-Rivera

2021 – Skye Resendes

2019 – Catherine Arambula



2023 – Michelle Reynoso

2022 – Claudia Ignacio

2021 – Brenda Lopez

2020 – Marisol Swadener

2019 – Arcelia Magaña


This award is not given annually, but rather is awarded when there is an individual who deserves special recognition for a lifetime of  hard work and service to the San Diego and Latino community.


2011 Hon. Federico Castro
Superior Court Judge, San Diego Superior Court

Judge Federico Castro is an advocate, jurist and mentor in the Latino community. As a California native, the judge entered law school as a second career after 14 years in retail work with Oakland’s H.C. Capwell Co., where he was Personnel Superintendent and served on the Mayor’s Manpower Commission. He graduated from the School of Business Administration at the University of California at Berkeley and from the University of San Diego School of Law. A 1987 appointment by Governor George Deukmejian, Judge Castro formerly was a partner in private practice for 14 years with the firm of Sheela, Lightner, Hughes & Castro, pursuing the same family law specialty that he later followed on the bench. He previously had served two years with the City Attorney’s office.

The judge served his first three years as a judge in family law, then transferred to Juvenile Court for a five-year stint handling both delinquency and dependency cases. He also served as Supervising Dependency judge for one year before returning downtown for seven years in the criminal courts. While at Juvenile, the judge coordinated a meeting with San Diego and Tijuana child protection officials to develop a better relationship between the two jurisdictions. He also was a member of the California Task Force to Review Juvenile Crime and the Juvenile Justice Response as well as the Judicial Council’s standing advisory committee on family and juvenile issues. Judge Castro served on the school board of La Jolla Country Day School, the Board of Governors of the San Diego Community Foundation, and the Board of Directors from 1974-80 of the Federal Defenders, State Defenders and Appellate Defenders in San Diego. Throughout his legal career he has advocated for Latinos in higher education and in the advancement of professional minorities.  Judge Castro’s honors include the 1997 Humanitarian Service in Benefit of Children Award from the Rotary Club, the Arthur E. Hughes Career Achievement Award from USD Law School, and the law school’s Distinguished Alumni Award.


2022 Lilia Garcia
San Diego Deputy District Attorney (Ret.)

Lilia is a past President of SDLRLA and a founding board member of the SDLRLA Scholarship Fund. A trailblazer, she was the first Latina to be hired in the State Attorney General’s San Diego office criminal division. After 32 years, she was hired as a San Diego County deputy district attorney in 2013, where she worked until her retirement. In 2019, she was inducted into the San Diego County Women’s Hall of Fame. A co-founder of Latinas in the Law, she has mentored and served as a role model for countless Latina attorneys and law students. Lilia has also served on the boards of the Mexican American Business and Professional Association, Catholic Charities and Bayside Settlement House, as a school board member of Marian (Mater Dei) Catholic High School, and as an alumni board member of the University of San Diego Law School. She earned her law degree from the University of San Diego School of Law in 1981.




Gilbert Nares, Associate Justice2019 Hon. Gilbert Nares
California Court of Appeal, Fourth District, Division One
Justice Nares was appointed to the Municipal Court by Governor Brown in 1976, serving as Presiding Judge of the North County Judicial District in 1977. As municipal court judge, he championed access to court interpreters. He later served as Vice Chair of the California Judicial Court’s Advisory Committee on Court Interpreters.
Governor Brown elevated Justice Nares quickly to the Superior Court in 1978. In 1981 and 1982, Justice Nares was Supervising Judge at the North County Branch, later serving in the Appellate Department in 1986 and 1987.
Justice Nares was appointed to the Court of Appeal, Fourth Appellate District, Division One in 1988 by Governor Deukmejian, where he has served with honor and distinction. Justice Nares retired in August of 2019, after serving 43 years on the bench, 31 of those years on the appellate court. He established a legacy of service that few will ever be able to obtain. “As someone growing up in the same barrio, Justice Nares was always a golden beacon, showing us that all our dreams are obtainable, regardless of our challenges as children of immigrants,” said Esther Sanchez, past president of SDLRA. “He is a Legacy.”