Judge Sunshine Sykes was confirmed to the U.S. Court for the Central District of California on May 18, 2022.
Previously, Judge Sykes served as a judge on the Superior Court of Riverside County since 2013, where she currently presides over the appellate division. She is the first Native American judge to serve on the Riverside County bench.
From 2005 to 2013, Sykes served as a Deputy County Counsel in the Office of County Counsel for Riverside County, where she focused on juvenile dependency matters. She also developed expertise in the Indian Child Welfare Act and trained social workers, attorneys, and judges throughout California on the law.
From 2003 to 2005, Sykes was a contract attorney for the Juvenile Defense Panel at the Southwest Justice Center, where she represented parents in Riverside County.
From 2001 to 2003, Sykes was a staff attorney for California Indian Legal Services, where she focused on domestic violence issues in Native American communities and worked with Tribes on issues such as tribal jurisdiction, child welfare, and providing direct legal assistance to individuals.
Upon confirmation, Judge Sykes became the first Native American to serve as an Article III judge in California and the first Article III judge from the Navajo nation.
Judge Sykes received her B.A. from Stanford University in 1997 and her J.D. from Stanford Law School in 2001.