Friday, August 18, 2006
Advisory Committee Recommends Judicial Education Requirements
By a MetNews Staff Writer
An advisory committee to the Judicial Council voted unanimously Wednesday to approve recommendations to the council to approve minimum judicial education requirements.
Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Fumiko H. Wasserman, chair of the Governing Committee of the Center for Judicial Education and Research, and Third District Court of Appeal Justice Ronald B. Robie, the vice chair, said in a letter to state judges:
“While there have been widely differing views expressed during the comment period, the common themes among those supporting and those opposing the proposal were acknowledgment of the importance of education, the superior education now available to judges in California, and the core duty of every bench officer to engage in professional development.”
The issue of mandatory judicial education, which is scheduled to be considered by the Judicial Council at its October meeting, has roiled the judiciary, with many judges, including some who have taught in CJER, expressing blunt opposition. The State Bar Board of Governors, which is meeting in Los Angeles tomorrow, has been asked by its Operations Committee to endorse the concept.
The proposed rules would increase minimum education requirements for new trial court judges and subordinate judicial officers; establish minimum education requirements for new presiding judges, new supervising judges, and judges or subordinate judicial officers who are changing primary assignments; establish minimum continuing education requirements for trial court judges and subordinate judicial officers; and establish minimum orientation and continuing education requirements for trial court executive officers, managers, supervisors, and personnel.
A committee memorandum noted that many of the public comments regarding the proposal reflected the belief that the council does not have the authority to mandate education for judges, and that the proposal is therefore unconstitutional. Several noted that the council’s rule-making authority is limited to issues of judicial administration, which some felt did not include requirements for education.
But the committee made public an opinion by the attorney general concluding that the council has constitutional authority to adopt rules for judicial education, and that the committee’s current proposal would be consistent with that authority.
As of September of 2005, 42 states had continuing education requirements for general jurisdiction judges, according to the National Center for State Courts, Court Statistics Project. The required hours ranged from 10 hours per year in Florida to 64 hours per year in Vermont. Four states, including California, had education requirements for new judges but no required continuing education.
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