Governor Jerry Brown today named one of his senior advisors, Joshua Groban, to fill the long-vacant seat on the California Supreme Court.  In a press release, Brown said, “Josh Groban has vast knowledge of the law and sound and practical judgement.  He’ll be a strong addition to California’s highest court.”  The statement includes praise of Groban from former Supreme Court Justice Carlos Moreno, Court of Appeal Presiding Justice Arthur Gilbert, former Secretary of Homeland Security Jeh Johnson, UCLA law school dean Jennifer Mnookin, and Munger, Tolles and Olson partner Ronald Olson.

The press release reports that, as an advisor to the Governor, “Groban has overseen the appointment of approximately 600 judges throughout the state since 2011.”  If, as is most probable, Groban’s appointment is confirmed by the Commission on Judicial Appointments, he will become a colleague of three of those judges — Supreme Court Justices Goodwin Liu, Mariano-Florentino Cuéllar, and Leondra Kruger.

When Groban joins Liu, Cuéllar, and Kruger, the court will have a majority of justices with no prior judicial experience.  The Governor’s statement includes this biographical information, “Groban was legal counsel for the Jerry Brown for Governor Campaign in 2010.  He was an attorney at Munger, Tolles and Olson LLP from 2005 to 2010 and at Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton and Garrison LLP from 1999 to 2005.  Groban served as a law clerk for the Honorable William C. Conner at the U.S. District Court, Southern District of New York from 1998 to 1999.”  He has been a senior advisor to Brown since 2011 and has been a lecturer in state appellate practice at UCLA’s law school since 2015.  Groban graduated cum laude from Harvard Law School after obtaining a Bachelor of Arts degree from Stanford University with honors and distinction.

In August, Governor Brown asked the Commission on Judicial Nominees Evaluation (JNE) to evaluate Groban not for the Supreme Court, but for a position on the Second District Court of Appeal.  At that time we said, “This news shouldn’t end speculation about Groban, however.  A JNE evaluation for the Court of Appeal doesn’t prevent Brown from still appointing Groban to the Supreme Court. . . .  [I]t’s possible that the Governor, trying not to tip his hand, could be giving JNE a head-start on evaluating Groban so it would not need to start from scratch if Groban were later appointed to the high court.”