McGeorge School of Law alumna confirmed as federal district judge

McGeorge alumna Dena Coggins confirmed as federal judge

Dena Coggins (Photo: Sacramento Superior Court)

McGeorge School of Law alumna Dena M. Coggins ’06 has been confirmed by the U.S. Senate to serve as a federal judge in the Eastern District of California. Coggins, who is of both Black and Asian descent, will be the first female Black judge to serve on the Eastern District bench.

Coggins was nominated for the judgeship in February by President Joe Biden and confirmed by the U.S. Senate May 22. 

“We take great pride in witnessing McGeorge School of Law alumni making an indelible mark on the legal system and this country,” said Michael Hunter Schwartz, dean of McGeorge School of Law. "I am delighted to see yet another McGeorge alumnus assuming a position on the federal bench. Judge Coggins has every quality you would want in a federal judge.” 

Coggins will take on her new role in September when Chief U.S. District Judge Kimberly J. Mueller assumes senior status.

Coggins currently serves as the presiding judge of the juvenile court of the Superior Court of California in Sacramento County. She has served as a judge on the court since 2021.

Previously, Coggins served as an administrative law judge in the General Jurisdiction Division and the Special Education Division for the State of California’s Office of Administrative Hearings, a supervising attorney for the California Victim Compensation Board, and deputy legal affairs secretary for California Gov. Edmund G. Brown Jr.

Coggins has also worked in private practice as an associate at Downey Brand LLP and Morrison & Foerster LLP. 

Coggins is U.S. Sen. Laphonza Butler’s first judicial nominee to be confirmed to the federal bench.

“Judge Dena Coggins is exactly the kind of jurist we need in the Eastern District, and I am so glad to see the Senate vote to confirm her,” Butler said in a news release. “A Sacramento native and resident, her first-hand knowledge of the community she will serve will make her an effective jurist in the Eastern District.

“She is a highly qualified nominee with a proven track record as a juvenile court judge and impressive courtroom experience as an attorney, administrative law judge and state court judge. Judge Coggins is one of California’s most reputable young jurists.” 

More than 400 McGeorge School of Law alumni have served as judges throughout the United States and abroad.

Coggins will join fellow alumni currently serving on the federal bench, including: 

  • Consuelo M. Callahan ’75 of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit in Sacramento, 
  • Morrison C. England Jr. ’77, ’83 of the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of California in Sacramento,
  • Johnnie B. Rawlinson ’79 of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit in Las Vegas,
  • Dana Makoto Sabraw ’85 of the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of California in San Diego, and
  • Jennifer L. Thurston ’97 of the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of California in Fresno.