Friday, May 5, 2006
George to Receive Top Award From American Judicature Society
By a MetNews Staff Writer
The American Judicature Society has named California Chief Justice Ronald M. George as the winner of its annual award for judicial excellence, the AJS said yesterday.
George will receive the third annual Dwight D. Opperman Award, which will be presented later this year. The award honors a sitting state judge of a trial or appellate court who has “had a career of distinguished judicial service.”
The selection was made by a panel made up of Michigan Circuit Court Judge M. Richard Knoblock, Georgia Supreme Court Justice Robert Benham,, and Arizona Chief Justice Ruth V. McGregor. McGregor was last year’s winner, following Wisconsin Chief Justice Shirley Abrahamson.
The award is named for Dwight D. Opperman, former chairman and CEO of West Publishing Company. Opperman is a former AJS vice president, director, and executive committee member.
In 2004, Opperman was honored by the National Center for State Courts with its Distinguished Service Award. He currently serves on the AJS Task Force on Judicial Independence and Accountability.
The Opperman award, AJS President Allan Sobel said in a statement, “is reserved for the very finest of our nation’s state court jurists.”
The AJS released a portion of Court of Appeal Justice Richard Mosk’s letter nominating George for the award.
“California’s deficits are staggering. Yet, Chief Justice George has done a magnificent job in helping ensure that the judiciary in California can perform its mission for the people of California. His dedicated and skillful service in this regard, apart from everything else, entitles him to recognition.”
George, after having been a deputy state attorney general, was first appointed to the Los Angeles Municipal Court in 1972 by then-Gov. Ronald Reagan.
He was elevated in 1977 to the Los Angeles Superior Court, where he presided over several well-known trials including that of “Hillside Strangler” Angelo Buono. He was later elevated to justice of this district’s Court of Appeal, and then to associate justice of the Supreme Court, before being named chief justice by then-Gov. Pete Wilson in 1996.
His judicial appointments came from four governors from both major political parties.
The American Judicature Society is a national nonpartisan organization whose goals include improved judicial administration and promotion of confidence in the courts.
In a statement posted on its Web site, it recited George’s accomplishments:
“It is in his role as Chief Justice of California, the largest judicial body in the world, that Chief Justice George shows outstanding leadership. For the past 10 years, he has spearheaded several reform measures notwithstanding chronic underfunding for California’s third branch. This included the merger of all 220 municipal and superior courts into a single level of trial court, with one court in each of California’s 58 counties, transferring the responsibility for funding the trial courts from the counties to the state, and an ongoing process transferring ownership and management responsibility for California’s 451 courthouses from the counties to the state. Chief Justice George currently is proposing a constitutional amendment which seeks to protect court funding and clarify the role of the state’s Judicial Council.”
Copyright 2006, Metropolitan News Company