Channel Islands

Superior Court Judge Michele Marie Castillo is the first Latina/Filipina to serve on the bench in Ventura County. Before her judgeship, she served as court commissioner and deputy public defender in Ventura and Fresno Counties.

Her story is one of triumph following deep personal struggle. As the daughter of a 16-year-old mother and a father who struggled with addiction, Judge Castillo experienced a turbulent childhood and often retreated to her room with books to find solace.

In the second grade, Judge Castillo came upon a book about Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. At the time, she could not have imagined how his words would alter the course of her life, but even at that very young age, Dr. King inspired her to commit to the ideals of equality and justice and she vowed to help make a difference in the lives of others. Judge Castillo went on to obtain a bachelor’s degree from University of California, Los Angeles, and a law degree from the Thomas Jefferson School of Law, and received countless awards and recognition for her scholarly accomplishments. When she began her career as a public defender and later a Superior Court commissioner, Dr. King’s words echoed in her mind as she worked to ensure justice in cases related to children, women and families. In 2016, she became the first Latina ever appointed to the Ventura County Superior Court.

A community advocate and volunteer, Judge Castillo often speaks at local schools and organizations and invites schoolchildren to her courtroom to teach them about the court’s role. She also works as a criminal law professor at the Santa Barbara and Ventura Colleges of Law and has taught protem judges how to adjudicate cases involving self-represented litigants. In recognition of her dedication to a career in public service and her groundbreaking accomplishment of becoming the first Latina/Filipina ever appointed to serve on the bench in Ventura County, the Board of Trustees of the California State University and California State University Channel Islands are proud to confer upon Michele Marie Castillo the honorary degree of Doctor of Laws.