January 3, 2011

Supreme Court transition

Today, California officially has a new Chief Justice. Tani Cantil-Sakauye became the state’s 28th Chief Justice. She then administered the oath of office to the new governor, Jerry Brown, and to other state officials.

Meanwhile, the Supreme Court issued its first opinion of the new year and the first signed by Ronald George as the retired Chief Justice under appointment of the Chief Justice. In People v. Diaz, George is (typically) in the majority as the 5-2 court holds that the U. S. Constitution allows the police to conduct a warrantless search of an arrestee’s cell phone’s text messages.

Wednesday, the new Chief and the first permanent-female-majority California Supreme Court will hear her/its first oral arguments.

The recently published Fall/Winter 2010 newsletter of the California Supreme Court Historical Society includes two pieces about Ronald George by Jake Dear, the court’s chief supervising attorney. One article reports on the Judicial Council’s retirement tribute. The other, titled “Wednesdays with the Chief,” gives Dear’s “perspective of the Chief as a persistent, yet charming, multitasking nudger with a keen attention to detail.” It’s a good read about how George ran the court, especially his meetings with Dear after the court’s Wednesday conferences.

UPDATE: California Courts News has a nice video report about the new Chief’s first day on the job, including how she was on both sides of the oath-taking process as she was sworn in and then swore in the new Governor, Attorney General, and others.

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