The Supreme Court announced today that Beth Jay will retire at the end of next month. Jay is principal attorney to Chief Justice Tani Cantil-Sakauye, and served the previous two chief justices — Ronald George and Malcolm Lucas — in the same capacity. She has served a total of 33 years at the Supreme Court. The announcement reported strong praise for Jay from all three chiefs.

As with the Chief Justice, Jay’s purview extended beyond Supreme Court matters and included all aspects of administering the entire California judicial system. In a statement, Jay said, “I have had a ringside seat from which to watch California’s judicial branch mature and focus on the administration of justice and access to justice for all.”

With the retirement earlier this year of Fritz Ohlrich, the court’s clerk, the court is losing two high-level, capable public servants and much institutional memory in 2012. With Jay, however, the loss might not be complete. She said that she is “leaving primarily to focus on addressing some long-standing health challenges” and that, “after that time, I intend to evaluate and consider all my options, including returning to the court to serve in a less-than-full-time capacity if the Chief will have me and if I can be of service.”