The San Francisco Unified Family Court (UFC) is thrilled to welcome two new judges:
Judge-elect Maria Evangelista Lopez
Judge-elect Maria Evangelista Lopez will join UFC in January 2021 and replace Judge Sharon Reardon in Department 403. Since 2003, Evangelista Lopez has held a variety of roles for the Public Defender’s Office both inside and outside the courtroom. In her role as a public defender, she worked with the collaborative courts, behavioral health court, veterans court, drug court, criminal justice court, clean slate, and the intensive supervisor court, which provides wraparound services for clients. She currently works in the Veterans Justice and Intensive Supervision courts, which aim to provide defendants with alternatives to incarceration.
Evangelista Lopez was born in San Francisco to parents with no formal education who immigrated to the United States from Jalisco, Mexico, as farmworkers. She grew up a block from the Hall of Justice in San Francisco’s South of Market area. Before earning her J.D. at Vanderbilt, she earned her undergraduate degree at San Francisco State University, where she majored in political science and criminal justice and clerked at the San Francisco District Attorney’s Office. She is the first Mexican American woman elected to serve as a judge in the San Francisco Superior Court.
Judge Vedica Puri
Judge Puri will also join UFC in January 2021 on an as-needed basis for domestic violence calendars. Judge Puri was appointed to the bench in January 2019 and is the first Indian American judge in the City and County of San Francisco. After obtaining her undergraduate degree from St. Xavier University in Mumbai, India, Judge Puri earned her Juris Doctor degree from Santa Clara University School of Law in 1994 and was admitted to the California Bar in 1995. In 2002, Judge Puri joined Pillsbury & Coleman as a senior associate and was named partner in 2005. Prior to that, she was a trial lawyer with Drinker, Biddle & Reath (2001-2002), Sedgwick (2000-2001) and Alborg, Veiluva & Cannata (1996-1999). During her career in civil litigation, Puri represented companies, educational institutions, and individuals, concentrating on complex insurance coverage and bad faith litigation. She has been involved in numerous complicated and high-profile cases, including insurance coverage disputes relating to the San Bruno pipeline explosion (2010) and the North Bay wildfires (2017).
Previously assigned to the Hall of Justice, Judge Puri presided over a felony preliminary hearing department and a criminal trial department. She handled the first criminal trial at the Hall of Justice this past year after the county’s Covid-19 shutdown, issuing rulings on whether masked witnesses violated a defendant’s right to confrontation and whether a defendant and his counsel could be deemed a ‘social bubble’ allowing them to sit less than six feet apart. In years past, Judge Puri spent her spare time traveling the world with her family and hopes to resume doing so once it’s safe to do so.