Commissioner Carlton Davis Joins the Court


Presiding Judge Culhane administers the oath to Commissioner Davis. Photo courtesy of the Sacramento County Superior Court

by Maureen C. Onyeagbako


Maureen C  Onyeagbako
Maureen C. Onyeagbako is a Deputy Attorney General with the California Department of Justice and a staff editor of Sacramento Lawyer. She can be contacted at

January 2017 marked the addition of Commissioner Carlton Davis to the Sacramento County Superior Court bench. Davis has been a fixture in the community for the last 11 years as a Deputy District Attorney, where he successfully prosecuted homicides, domestic and sexual violence, and gang cases, among others. He sees the Commissioner position as a new challenge and opportunity to dispense justice in a different way.

A graduate of John F. Kennedy High School in Sacramento, Davis remembers attending a program on justice for youth and listening to Judge (now Presiding Justice of the Third District Court of Appeal) Vance W. Raye encourage students to advance their educations. This was the first time Davis had ever seen a black judge, and it got him to think more seriously about his future. Davis’s parents had always encouraged him and his brother (now a public defender in San Francisco) to get an education and comport themselves with dignity, but the program added a visual for his career possibilities.

The future Commissioner went on to Tulane University with a full track scholarship and competed in the sprints. Taking the importance of an education to heart, he was named the top student athlete in his class and graduated with honors in political science and sociology. From there, he graduated from the University of Southern California Law School.

Wherever he is, Commissioner Davis remains committed to giving back to others. As a kid, he helped feed the homeless, and later he served as the Community Service Chair for USC’s graduate school senate. He is a former president of the Wiley W. Manuel Bar Association and organizes Contract for Success, a mentoring program for high school students and founded by Third District Court of Appeal Associate Justice William J. Murray. Commissioner Davis gladly accepts the charge of role model and, as others did for him, will encourage youths to advance their educations and options.

Commissioner Davis is currently assigned to the Juvenile Dependency Court.

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