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April 2024

Calif Supreme Court Justice Martin Jenkins seated at a desk

Calif Supreme Court Justice Martin Jenkins seated at a desk

Calif. Supreme Court Associate Justice Martin J. Jenkins ’77 to Address Santa Clara University Class of 2024

SANTA CLARA, Calif., April 8, 2024— Martin J. Jenkins ’77, California Supreme Court Associate Justice and former Judicial Appointments Secretary to California Gov. Gavin Newsom ’89,  will be the keynote speaker at Santa Clara University’s 173rd commencement ceremony on June 15.

Justice Jenkins was confirmed as an Associate Justice of the California Supreme Court on November 10, 2020, becoming the first openly gay California Supreme Court justice and only the third African-American man ever to serve on the state's highest court. He is recognized for his integrity, compassion and dedication to public service. 

“We are honored to welcome Justice Jenkins back to his alma mater to share his exemplary life of service as a ‘man for others,’ in the true Jesuit tradition, ” said Santa Clara University President Julie Sullivan. “In his many roles as justice, judge, lawyer, adviser, and community member, Justice Jenkins has devoted his life to ensuring that our justice system is fair and humane, and that the most vulnerable in society have a voice.”

As Judicial Appointments Secretary to Gov. Newsom, Jenkins directed the appointment of judges across California, reflecting the diverse population of the state, guided by the aim of increasing transparency in the appointment process.

Before that, Jenkins served as Associate Justice of the California Court of Appeal and was a federal district judge for the Northern District of California, nominated by former President William Clinton. He also has served as a trial judge on the Alameda County Superior Court.

In 1977, Jenkins received his B.A. in history from Santa Clara University, where he played on the Bronco football team as a defensive back. After graduating, he briefly played for the NFL’s Seattle Seahawks, before attending law school at the University of San Francisco (USF) School of Law, from which he graduated in 1980. After graduation from USF, he received the law school’s Judge Harold J. Haley Award for “exceptional distinction in scholarship, character and activities.”  In 2018, he received an honorary doctorate from USF. 

Jenkins has been the recipient of numerous awards, among them the St. Thomas More Award from the St. Thomas More Society of San Francisco, in recognition of his distinguished record of service to his church, community and family. He was awarded the 2009 Children’s Advocacy Award from the Legal Services for Children, San Francisco, for outstanding leadership in public policy that protects children and youth from abuse and exploitation.

The American Inns of Court named Jenkins its 2022 Lewis F. Powell Jr. Award recipient, given in recognition of exemplary service in the areas of legal professionalism, ethics, civility, and excellence.

“I look forward to celebrating commencement with Santa Clara University’s Class of 2024,” said Jenkins. “My Jesuit education has informed virtually every aspect of my life, and I am delighted to share this special day with a new generation of exceptional graduates from my alma mater.” 

About Santa Clara University
Founded in 1851, Santa Clara University sits in the heart of Silicon Valley—the world’s most innovative and entrepreneurial region. The University’s stunningly landscaped 106-acre campus is home to the historic Mission Santa Clara de Asís. Ranked among the top 15 percent of national universities by U.S. News & World Report, SCU has among the best four-year graduation rates in the nation and is rated by PayScale in the top 1 percent of universities with the highest-paid graduates. SCU has produced elite levels of Fulbright Scholars as well as four Rhodes Scholars. With undergraduate programs in arts and sciences, business, and engineering, and graduate programs in six disciplines, the curriculum blends high-tech innovation with social consciousness grounded in the tradition of Jesuit, Catholic education.  For more information see 

Media Contact
Deborah Lohse | SCU Media Communications | | 408-554-5121


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