Justice Richard T. Fields presided in the courts of Riverside County for twenty six years prior to his appointment and subsequent confirmation to the Court of Appeal on February 9, 2017. During the years 2007 and 2008, Justice Fields served as the Presiding Judge of the entire Riverside County Court System. Prior to his appointment as a judge of the superior court, Justice Fields served as a court commissioner for over nine years. When selected as a commissioner in 1991, Justice Fields became the first African-American jurist in the history of Riverside County. In April 2000, Justice Fields became the first African-American judge in Riverside County.
During his time on the superior court bench, he presided over a number of criminal calendars and scores of misdemeanor and felony jury trials including numerous murder cases–both capital and non-capital. Additionally, he handled a civil trial calendar and presided over a variety of civil trials including medical, legal and dental malpractice actions, personal injury lawsuits and wrongful death cases.
During his career, Justice Fields has received numerous awards and commendations. Most notably, in 2007, he received the Southwest Bar Association’s Judge of the Year award. In 2008, he was named as Judge of the Year by the Riverside-San Bernardino Chapter of the American Board of Trial Advocates. In June 2009, he received the Outstanding Jurist Award from the Leo A. Deegan Inn of Court. In 2013, he received the Alba Witkin Humanitarian Award from the California Judges Association. He also been honored for judicial excellence by the California Association of Black Lawyers and the 100 Black Men of the Inland Empire. In 2016, he was named the Leo A. Deegan Inn of Court Douglass E. Weathers Distinguished Honoree and received the Champions of Justice Award from Fair Housing Council of Riverside County Inc. In 2017, he received the California Association of Black Lawyers Judicial Section South’s prestigious Black Gavel Award.
Justice Fields has dedicated his life to community service. As a member and past president of the Riverside Sunrise Rotary Club, he has been involved in mentoring students, assisting with major immunization drives, assisting at the Inland Aids Walk, sending students to leadership camp, participating in a “lunch buddy” program where he has met special elementary students for lunchtime fellowship. Justice Fields has also served as a mock trial judge for over 23 years, spoken at hundreds of community events and served as president of the Leo A. Deegan Inn of Court.
Justice Fields graduated with honors from the California State University, Fullerton in January 1981, receiving the degree of Bachelor of Arts with a major in Sociology and a minor in Spanish. He completed his bachelor’s degree in only 3 ½ years. He received the degree of Juris Doctor from Western State University College of Law in May 1983. He completed his law degree in just 2 ½ years. While at Western State, he was on the Honor Roll, named to Who’s Who Among Students in American Universities and Colleges, named to Outstanding Young Men of America, named to the National Dean’s List, was an Honor’s Moot Court advocate, served as a “Don” program mentor and received a letter of commendation for outstanding service on the Law Review. Justice Fields was also awarded the degree of Master of Laws in Taxation from the University of San Diego School of Law in December 1987.
Justice Fields has been often heard to say, “it’s never too difficult, it’s never too late and you are never too old” to accomplish your dreams. Justice Fields is married with two children.