Former prosecutor named Sonoma County Superior Court judge – The Santa Rosa Press Democrat

Mark Urioste, a former Sonoma County prosecutor and current court commissioner, was appointed to a superior court judgeship on Monday by Gov. Jerry Brown, filling a vacancy created by the upcoming retirement of Judge Rene Chouteau.

Urioste, 44, of Santa Rosa, worked with the Sonoma County District Attorney’s Office for nearly 12 years until May, when he was appointed to serve as a court commissioner.

Urioste will be paid an annual salary of $207,424. He is registered to vote without stating a political party preference.

Urioste earned his law degree in 2002 from Lewis and Clark College School of Law in Portland, Ore., and a bachelor’s degree from the University of Connecticut. From 2003 to 2005, he served as a research attorney and judicial assistant to King County Superior Court Judge Julie Spector. Urioste briefly worked as an associate at Babin and Seeger until he was hired in 2006 by the Sonoma County District Attorney’s Office.

As prosecutor, Urioste handled a variety of cases including a brash daytime robbery and shooting at a Santa Rosa jewelry store in 2014. One of the robbers, who held a store clerk at gunpoint, was sentenced to 159 years in prison.

Urioste was one of three commissioners on the local bench. Unlike judges, court commissioners are selected by the judges of the court and given the power to hear certain types of low-level cases and can be assigned as temporary judges.

As a commissioner, Urioste in July oversaw the sentencing of a Guerneville man convicted of stealing a gay pride flag from the town’s plaza. He gave the man a three-year probation term and ordered him to complete 100 hours of community service cleaning the Russian River.

Urioste is the fourth judge to be appointed to Sonoma County’s 22-member bench of judges and commissioners since last year, following the appointments of fellow former prosecutors Christopher Honigsberg and Jennifer Dollard and Barbara Phelan, a former judicial staff attorney at the First District Court of Appeal in San Francisco. Urioste is married to Heidi Bernheim Urioste and they have two children.

Urioste will take up Chouteau’s post upon the judge’s retirement at the end of the year.

You can reach Staff Writer Julie Johnson at 707-521-5220 or On Twitter @jjpressdem.

EDITOR’S NOTE: This story has been updated to include the appointment of Barara Phelan.

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