Remembering Retired Butte County Superior Court Judge Ann Rutherford: A Trailblazer in the California Judiciary

BUTTE COUNTY, Calif. – Ann H. Rutherford, a groundbreaking figure in the California judiciary and a highly regarded member of the legal community in Butte County, has passed away, according to the county’s superior court. Retiring from the Butte County Superior Court in 2001, Rutherford continued to serve through the Judicial Council of California’s Assigned Judges Program until her full retirement in August 2017.

Rutherford’s legacy as the first female judge in the Butte County Superior Court began in 1976 when she was appointed to the Chico Municipal Court by Governor Jerry Brown. Her election victory in 1988 marked a historic moment for women in California’s judiciary. During her tenure, Rutherford played a vital role in establishing the court’s Family Law Division and served as its first Supervising Judge from 1998. She was recognized for her outstanding contributions to family law in September 2000, when the California State Bar’s Family Law section presented her with the Judicial Officer of the Year award.

Known for her sharp wit and unwavering dedication to justice, Rutherford was highly respected by her colleagues, mentees, and friends. She was renowned for her commitment to jurors and ensuring their comfort during their civic duty. Presiding Judge Michael R. Deems expressed his condolences and emphasized Rutherford’s impact on the community, stating, “The passing of the remarkable Judge Rutherford is a great loss for our legal community and the people of the North State. Judge Rutherford, or ‘Judge Ann’ as some referred to her, understood the value of citizens taking the time to serve on jury duty. She took pains to explain the process and the law effectively and ensure their comfort. She treated them like a guest in her home – the Butte County Superior Court.”

The court extends its deepest sympathies to Judge Rutherford’s family and those who were close to her.