California Chief Justice Ron George Will Leave High Court
By PAUL ELIAS
Associated Press Writer
SAN FRANCISCO — California Chief Justice Ron George announced on Wednesday that he is stepping down.
The state’s top jurist said he won’t seek re-election in November. His last day in office will be Jan. 2.
GOP Gov. Pete Wilson appointed George chief justice in 1996. He was originally appointed to the high court in 1991 after serving four years as an appellate judge. He began his judicial career in 1972 when Gov. Ronald Reagan appointed him to the Los Angeles Municipal Court.
George said he began considering quitting after celebrating his 70th birthday this year.
“Why file for re-election for another 12-year term, after having authored hundreds of judicial opinions and overseen major administrative reforms in the judicial system; what more do you hope to accomplish other than refining and preserving what has been achieved?” he said in a prepared statement.
The court system, like all California agencies, suffered severe cutbacks over the past couple of years.
For the first time in its history, the state’s courts were forced to close their doors one day a month, and George’s support of a costly new computer system and several construction projects were criticized by some judges.
“There’s no question these have been a difficult couple of years for him,” said Santa Clara University law professor Gerald Uelmen. Nonetheless, Uelmen said he was surprised by George’s decision.
This from Gov. Schwarzengger on what happens next:
“The Governor and his office will immediately begin working to fill the position with the best individual to carry on Chief Justice George’s legacy. The Governor must nominate a candidate for Chief Justice before September 16. That nomination becomes effective when the candidate is confirmed by the Commission on Judicial Appointments.
“The candidate must also be submitted to the State Bar’s Commission on Judicial Nominees Evaluation to provide it an opportunity for evaluation, as time permits. The candidate will then stand for election on November 2nd. If the candidate receives a majority vote, then he or she will serve a 12-year term, starting in January, 2011.”
Filed under: California History
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