MoForever Alumni News Fall 2021

17 | MoForever Fall 2021 ALUMNI UPDATE PRO BONO For Sacramento County Superior Court Judge Dena Coggins, the idea that someone can have their day in court never gets old. As an 18-yearold college freshman summoned for jury duty, Dena had never seen the inside of a courtroom, didn’t know any lawyers, and wasn’t aware that she was witnessing what is known as due process. Still, her juror experience shaped Dena’s career and her life. “After I sat for that trial as a juror, I found out that I could get a copy of the master calendar that would indicate which cases were on each day. Even though I worked full time while in college full time, any time that I had off I would go to watch,” she said. “I would sit in the back of the courtroom and listen to the arguments. I’d watch the examination of witnesses and the argument of motions. Not because I thought I could be an attorney—I didn’t come from a family of college graduates. It was just so interesting to me.” Paving the road to diversity on the bench Sacramento Superior Court Judge Patricia Escrow noticed Dena’s frequent presence in her courtroom, and one day pulled her into chambers to ask her why she was in court so often. According to Dena, “I told her I just thought it was interesting, and she said, ‘Well, have you ever thought SUPERIOR COURT JUDGE DENA COGGINS: LEVERAGING DIVERSITY, PRO BONO WORK TO SERVE SACRAMENTO