By Jon Schwalbach
Judge Nancy Ayers grew up in the Central Valley. She obtained her undergraduate degree from the University of the Pacific, and obtained her law degree from Santa Clara University School of Law.
Shortly after graduating, Judge Ayers returned to the Central Valley, where she worked for a general practice law firm, first as a law clerk, then as an associate attorney. In March of 1984, she joined the Ventura County District Attorney’s Office. For 23 years she served as a deputy D.A., finishing her tenure as Senior Deputy. While with the D.A.’s Office, Judge Ayers worked juvenile, sex crimes, misdemeanors, and third-strike cases. She also supervised both the misdemeanor and felony trial units. As a part of her duties as a deputy DA, Judge Ayers devoted a large amount of her time to developing a program to assist people with disabilities through the legal system – illustrating her all-encompassing vision of justice.
In 2007, Judge Ayers returned to Fresno County as a Deputy District Attorney. Then Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger appointed her to the Ventura County bench in September, 2009. She currently handles the preliminary hearing calendar for the criminal division of the Ventura Superior Court. Two years into her judgeship, Judge Ayers appreciates her role.
“I feel fortunate to be working with so many people who are good attorneys and pleasant to work with,” Judge Ayers said.
Recently assigned to the handle the County’s Drug Court, JudgeAyers said it is rewarding to work with the D.A.’s office, the public defender’s office, and the probation department to help people take charge of their lives.
Judge Ayers commands a strict courtroom, but does so with an air of levity. Those who work with Judge Ayers admire her sense of humor and her easy-going demeanor. Carrie Vance, Judge Ayers’ judicial assistant, admires how Judge Ayers goes out of her way to make those appearing before her feel comfortable and at ease.
While Judge Ayers can be easy-going as a justice, she commands her court with a firm gavel when necessary – Vance was quick to note that counselors and parties appearing before her definitely know when she means business. Vance describes Judge Ayers as being fair and just when sitting behind the
“She is also known for being extremely knowledgeable and taking the extra effort to research and analyze each side’s arguments,” Vance said.
Fellow justices have come to admire Judge Ayers’ easy-going attitude and her ability to efficiently manage her courtroom’s calendar. Judge Donald Coleman, the Court’s Supervising Criminal Judge, echoed Vance’s statements about Judge Ayers’ strong work ethic as a judge.
“She is a very, very hard worker and dedicated to trying to do the right thing,” Judge Coleman said. On a personal level, Judge Coleman said that Judge Ayers “has a sweet soul about her,” which is readily apparent in her activities outside the courtroom.
Combining her love of dogs with helping those in need, since 1996 Judge Ayers has participated in Guide Dogs of America, and has raised and trained ten puppies to assist those with disabilities. The program has given her a deeper appreciation for people with disabilities. Aside from providing an important service by helping to train dogs to assist those with disabilities, Judge Ayers also enjoys the fun that comes with raising a potential guide dog. One lucky puppy, Scarlet, was even allowed to sit with Judge Ayers behind the bench! She and the other justices enjoy having canine companionship in chambers, especially after days with particularly unruly counselors.
From her many years as a deputy DA to her devotion to the Guide Dogs of America program, Judge Ayers is a zealous advocate for justice, both in the courtroom and beyond.
Jon Schwalbach was an associate at Ferguson Case Orr Paterson LLP until commuting from Los Angeles got the better of him. As of July 1, he will be an associate at Reback, McAndrew, Kjar, Warford & Stockalper, LLP in Manhattan Beach, where he will handle malpractice litigation.