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Judge Haynes passes away
Mantecas first woman judge
Judge HAYNES DSC 0043
Priscilla Haynes was the first woman on the Manteca-Ripon-Escalon Municipal Court Bench.

Judge Priscilla Haynes held court in the old 1924 vintage brick city hall across from Library Park in downtown Manteca beginning in 1956.

She conducted business of the now defunct Manteca-Ripon-Escalon Municipal Court on the second floor of that old brick building along with city halls in Ripon and Escalon until she retired in 1984.

She passed away Sept. 16 at age 93. At her request there will be no public services.

Judge Haynes lived out her life in Grass Valley returning to Manteca in 2002 to be elevated to the Manteca Hall of Fame. 

Haynes was born in Oakland in 1922 to Mr. and Mrs. William Jensen. After graduating from the University of California during World War Il, she entered the U. S. Army as an intelligence specialist. After the war, she obtained her law degree from Hastings School of Law.

In 1952, she was appointed as a deputy district attorney for San Joaquin County, the first woman to serve in that position. Four years later, she was appointed to serve as Judge of the Manteca Ripon-Escalon District Court, the first woman to do so. She served until 1984. Subsequently, she also became the first woman appointed to the Judicial Council of the State of California.

Her greatest contribution was her commitment to turning around the lives of so many delinquent juveniles. She used her time and talents to help the young with what today would be termed tough love. She was known as a judge who ruled the bench with dignity and firmness, but also with fairness.

Judge Haynes actively supported the local public library and was the keynote speaker at the dedication of the new building in January, 1962. She also worked to secure the Manteca Ripon-Escalon Court Building and officiated at the groundbreaking ceremony of that facility in Manteca. While in Manteca, she was a member of numerous local, county, and state service and professional organizations.

She complimented furniture store owner Ken Hafer for his work on the Manteca Museum on West Yosemite when she heard about his efforts and her selection to the Manteca Hall of Fame.


“Being considered for the Manteca Hall of Fame is an extraordinary honor,” she wrote.  “I was so pleased to read the names of the persons previously selected. Many of the inductees I knew and know personally and know of the superb contributions they have made.  It is heartwarming to see that they have been recognized and acknowledged officially.”

As for the creation of the new museum in the old church building at the corner of Sequoia and Yosemite avenues, she said, “The museum is a wonderful idea as it preserves the past and sets goals for the future.  To bring such an organization into being is a Herculean task and to continue its operation is challenging and rewarding.”

One of the reasons many respected her so greatly was that she hesitated to tell of her accomplishments when interviewed about her past. Haynes was an outstanding woman who welcomed the opportunity — the privilege in her own words — and contributing a little to human progress and betterment and in promoting a respect for law, the greatness of our judicial system and the dignity it provides all persons.

In 1956 Haynes was appointed to the San Joaquin County District Court serving Manteca, Ripon and Escalon communities. Eight years later in 1964 she was appointed as the first woman to the Judicial Council of the State of California.

Gov. Edmund Brown Sr. with the approval of the State Legislature appointed her to the board of trustees of the Stockton State (mental) Hospital that same year.  For three years ending in 1965 she was held the role or director of the Community Council of San Joaquin County. 

Then in 1968 she chaired a very important committee to her: “Juveniles in Conflict with the Law.”

Judge Haynes had been somewhat frustrated about second offenders in Traffic Court and wanted to know why some motorists kept returning to answer the same charges.  Some 20 repeat offenders were given physical and emotional tests in two clinics to get a picture of their driving problems of repeat offenders.

A total of 87 percent of those who passed through her court were found to have anti-social tendencies that carried over into their driving habits — 18 to 46 years old.

One other award that Haynes cherished was the Rose M. Stern Award.  She was only the second woman to be singled out for the honor which was given to those who had contributed significantly in volunteer services to their community, state and nation.

She was a member of the Manteca Soroptimist Club as well who worked with club president Bianca Jacklich to obtain valuable instruments for Dr. Vonder Groben’s heart research out of his Manteca office at the corner of Lincoln and Yosemite avenues.

She was seen a wonderful jurist who touched countless residents in the community in positive ways.