2023 Witkin Awards: Judge Dana Makoto Sabraw

Judge Dana Makoto Sabraw was named a Witkin Award winner in 2023 for Excellence in the Adjudication of Law. Judge Sabraw was appointed to the United States District Court in 2003, where he currently serves as Chief Judge. He received his undergraduate degree from San Diego State University, and thereafter attended McGeorge School of Law at the University of the Pacific, where he graduated in 1985 in the top 10% of his class and served on the Law Review. Before his appointment, Judge Sabraw practiced law as a commercial litigator with Baker & McKenzie in San Diego, becoming a partner in 1992. In 1995, he was appointed to San Diego’s North County Municipal Court. He served as Presiding Judge of the Municipal Court until his elevation to the Superior Court in 1998, where he served as Criminal Supervising Judge and as a criminal and civil trial judge until his appointment to the federal bench. As a trial lawyer and judge, Judge Sabraw has tried more than 300 cases to verdict.

Judge Sabraw is a member of the U.S. Judicial Conference Committee on the Judicial Branch, and has been active in a number of professional organizations. Among these, he is a founding member and past president of two American Inns of Court (Lopardo and Wallace Inn Chapters), and current member, and past board member, of the Pan Asian Lawyers of San Diego. He also serves on the founding committee of “Just the Beginning A Pipeline Organization.” He is a frequent speaker at law and community related events on judicial independence, the rule of law, and the importance of diversity and inclusion.

He has received numerous awards from the community and bar associations, including Outstanding Jurist by the San Diego County Bar Association, Judge of the Year by La Raza Lawyers Association of San Diego, Humanitarian of the Year by Casa Cornelia Law Center, Person of the Year by the San Diego Union Tribune editorial board, and Judge of the Year by Consumer Trial Attorneys of San Diego. He also received the Lifetime Achievement Award by the Asian Business Association of San Diego, the Trailblazer Award from the National Asian Pacific American Bar Association, the Sunshine Award by the Society of Professional Journalists, San Diego, and the Civil Rights Civil Leadership Award by the Japanese American Civil League, San Diego, among others.