Judicial Council spokesperson Cathal Conneely tells At The Lectern that Chief Justice Tani Cantil-Sakauye will participate in oral arguments through the end of her term and will then sit by assignment as needed to finalize any cases.

Because the Chief Justice opted not to run for reelection, her term ends on January 1. Under the 90-day rule, however, opinions for cases argued in November might not file until the end of January and opinions for December cases might not file until the beginning of March. The new chief justice — who will be current Associate Justice Patricia Guerrero, if she is elected next month — can assign Cantil-Sakauye to sit as a temporary justice after her term ends. (Cal. Const., art. VI, section 6(e).)

But, as soon as the Chief Justice’s term ends, she will become the president and CEO of the Public Policy Institute of California. (See here and here.) When Justice Mariano-Florentino Cuéllar retired last year to become president of the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, I predicted he would not serve as a pro tem justice by assignment because I thought the court would prefer to not use a justice who is privately employed. Cuéllar did not pro tem and the court ended up filing opinions with only six justices participating in two cases in which Cuéllar had heard arguments.

Alternatively, the court could rush to file all its November and December calendar opinions before January 1. The court worked with that kind of speed in 2011 when Justice Carlos Moreno retired without agreeing to any pro tem assignments. (See here.)

One other thing: if a rehearing petition is filed in any case on which Cantil-Sakauye has participated and if the petition remains undecided both after her term ends and after the court has a new complement of seven permanent justices (i.e., after Judge Kelli Evans is confirmed as an associate justice and takes her oath of office), Cantil-Sakauye would probably not rule on the petition.