December 3, 2010

News articles recount Chief Justice George’s final meeting with the press

The Los Angeles Times, the San Francisco Chronicle and the Daily Journal all carried articles yesterday reporting on Chief Justice Ronald M. George’s final annual meeting with the press before he steps down as Chief Justice. His term officially ends January 2.

In the Times piece, Maura Dolan writes fondly of the Chief’s policy of open communication and access, and adds that George’s inability to reform California’s system for handling death penalty appeals is among his chief regrets as he leaves office, a sentiment explored in somewhat more detail in Laura Ernde’s article in the Daily Journal [subscription required]. You may recall we examined the Court’s crushing burden of capital cases, and efforts to remedy the problem, in this post.

Another major theme of the Chief’s final meeting with the media was his concern over political challenges to sitting judges that are sometimes mounted in retention elections. You might remember that we noted in this post George’s dismay at the recent defeat of three Iowa Supreme Court judges who, like George, voted to overturn their state’s ban on same-sex marriage. As discussed in our earlier post and in yesterday’s article in the Chronicle, George proposes to remedy the potential politicization of state judiciaries, and the threat to judicial independence, by eliminating retention elections altogether. He suggests that state high court judges be appointed for a single term of perhaps 15 years and that they never stand for reelection.

George’s last day at the Court will be December 15, after which he will depart for a vacation with his wife. According to Ernde’s article, and as we predicted, “[e]ven after he leaves office, George’s signature will appear on decisions in which he heard oral argument. He will be listed as a temporary justice appointed by his successor, 3rd District Court of Appeal Justice Tani Cantil-Sakauye.”

Leave a Reply