December 22, 2010

The “new” Supreme Court

Following the recusal of the entire Supreme Court from the state-buildings-sale case, which we reported yesterday, the acting Chief Justice this morning assigned seven Court of Appeal justices as pro tem Supreme Court justices to handle the writ petition: Justices Richard Aronson, William Bedsworth, and Richard Fybel from the Fourth District, Division Three in Santa Ana; Justice Patricia Benke from the Fourth District, Division One in San Diego; Justice M. Kathleen Butz from the Third District in Sacramento; and Justices Dennis Cornell and Betty Dawson from the Fifth District in Fresno. Justice Benke was appointed Acting Chief Justice for the case.

No justices were appointed from the First or Second Districts (those courts — except for Division 6 of the Second District — sit in buildings which are the subject of the underlying lawsuit) or from the Sixth District (which is a named party to the writ petition). Also apparently passed over in the alphabetical assignment of temporary justices was Tani Cantil-Sakauye of the Third District, who will become the permanent Chief Justice in less than two weeks.

The new members of the high court could have very short tenures as Supreme Court justices. They are assigned only “until they have completed and disposed of all related causes and matters submitted to them, and all petitions for rehearing arising out of such causes and matters.” If they summarily deny the writ petition — which could happen later today or tomorrow because Governor Schwarzenegger has asked for a ruling by tomorrow — they’ll be done.

UPDATE: Here is the court’s order.

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