California Continues Judicial Rationing Game, Down About 270 Judges

California seems committed to continuing its judicial rationing shell game, with the state’s policy-setting Judicial Council’s “committee on legislation” voting to support a controversial law allowing the council to move five vacant judgeships from one county to another.

“It’s safe to say that the presiding judges statewide are divided on this issue,” Presiding Judge Brian McCabe of Merced County, who represents the state’s 58 presiding judges as chair of the council’s Trial Court Presiding Judges Advisory Committee, told The Courthouse News. He told the legislation committee that he had polled the state’s presiding judges and received some “very vehement” opposition to the idea. “There are a number of competing interests and concerns… the concern is this is a new arena we are stepping into, unprecedented, and it has people nervous.”

You think? California Gov. Jerry Brown’s plan in his 2016-17 budget package calls for moving five vacant judicial positions. The governor has been quoted saying that “… this will shift judgeships where the workload is highest without needing to increase the overall number of judges.” And Brown has been emphatic that these vacant judgeships need to be moved before he will agree to fund any new positions.

The CN notes how much of a drop in the judicial justice bucket this is, backgrounding that: “The understanding is that this will involve taking two open positions from Alameda County and three from Santa Clara County, and giving two to Riverside County, two to San Bernardino County and one to Kern County. All three south-state counties are in serious need, though nearly all judges agree that with the state down by about 270 positions every court is in desperate need of more judges.”

Read the CN’s excellent reporting here: CNS – Plan to Reallocate Judgeships Moves Ahead

Gov. names 8 New L.A. Superior Court Judges

Gov. Brown has named eight new Los Angeles County Superior Court judges among 18 judicial choices statewide, the governor’s office announced. In L.A. County, the new judges are Deborah S. Brazil, Carl H. Moor, Connie R. Quinones, Armen Tamzarian, Sergio C. Tapia, Lee W. Tsao, Frank M. Tavelman and Joel Wallenstein.
 
Superior Court judgeships pay $181,292 in California. For bios on the L.A. choices, check out The Courthouse News here.

Gov. Brown Hires For Superior Court Positions

A few new people will be coming to work for the state’s superior court system soon, but as regular readers have no doubt realized it’s not support staff. Announced is another round of judicial hires for the state-mandated $178,789-per-year jobs. Notable among this round of appointments is Sunil R. Kulkarni, who the South Asian Bar Association identifies as the first South Asian American judge ever appointed in Northern California, and an actual Republican for the San Diego Superior Court bench (most Brown-selected judges are Democrats).
 
California actually elects its judges. But typical judicial careers begin with an appointment by the governor to fill an open bench. Those chosen rarely face election challenges. The Republican judge in the San Diego court has served as a deputy public defender at the San Diego County Public Defender’s Office, Office of the Primary Public Defender since 1994 and has been an adjunct professor at the University of San Diego School of Law since 2003.
 
Details and background from the new judges abounds at the California Newswire.