Judge Shawna Schwarz received her bachelors and masters degrees from Stanford University and then went on to Santa Clara University for law school. Judge Schwarz has been on the bench since December 2001 and has spent the bulk of her career in Juvenile Dependency Court, with a two year tour in Family Court hearing restraining orders and a short stint in Criminal Court hearing misdemeanors. She is an appointee of Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger.
From the end of 2006 through 2008, Judge Schwarz presided over a misdemeanor calendar and then went to Family Court, where she presided over a specialized restraining order calendar, hearing domestic violence, elder abuse, civil harassment, and workplace violence restraining orders.
Judge Schwarz has been the supervising judge of Dependency Court since 2010. Her current caseload has an emphasis on teenagers as well as children in long term foster care with little hope of ever returning home. In addition, she hears the cases for all of the “non-minor dependents” – youth ages 18-21 who have opted to remain in extended foster care in order to get assistance in the transition to adulthood. She also oversees the administration of psychotropic medications to foster youth, reviewing all of the requested orders and holding review hearings on all cases in which youth receive medications.
In addition to her caseload, Judge Schwarz has created numerous “cheat sheets,” flow charts and infographics used by judges statewide. She provides trainings on juvenile dependency, domestic violence, and restraining orders. She has trained countless social workers, community based organization staff and community members on the overlap of domestic violence and child maltreatment. Since January 2003 Judge Schwarz has provided training on the Juvenile Dependency Court process for all the new CASA volunteers for the Child Advocates of Silicon Valley. Judge Schwarz trains judges state-wide on dependency law, and recently began training judges on the use PowerPoint.
In December 2015, Judge Schwarz was named the Wilmont Sweeney Juvenile Court Judge of the Year, an annual award given by the Juvenile Court Judges of California. In June 2019, Judge Schwarz was named the 2019 David W. Soukup Judge of the Year by the National CASA Association.