Monday, August 28, 2006
Assembly Votes to Restore Authorization for 50 New Judgeships
By a MetNews Staff Writer
California superior courts would get a total of 50 new judges next year under an amendment approved by the state Assembly.
Lawmakers voted late Thursday to approve the change in SB 56, after voting earlier to authorize only 25 of the 50 positions for which funds were included in the 2007-2007 budget.
While restoring the 25 slashed judgeships, however, the amendment did not restore a provision, also removed recently, that would have provided for the conversion of commissioner and referee positions to judgeships.
As originally introduced by Sen. Joseph Dunn, D-Garden Grove, the bill would have implemented a Judicial Council study calling for creation of 150 new judgeships over three years. That study identified San Bernardino, Riverside, Fresno and Sacramento counties as having the greatest need for new judges, and recommended they receive more than one-quarter of the new positions.
Los Angeles County would have gotten seven new judgeships over three years. The bill sat moribund, however, until the Legislature recently appropriated the funds for the first 50 positions.
Kate Howard, legislative director for the council, informed supporters of the bill Friday that the amendment was approved after Chief Justice Ronald M. George, along with leading judges and lawyers, “argued strenuously for the 50 new judgeships that have already been funded” in the new budget.
The bill could receive final approval in the Assembly as early as tomorrow, Howard said, and then would have to go back to the Senate for its concurrence in the Assembly amendments.
The bill ran into difficulty, Howard and others reported, because Assembly Speaker Fabian Nunez feels the governor has not appointed enough Asian American, African American, and Latino judges. Democrats were also upset at Schwarzenegger’s appointments of former Republican Congressman James Rogan and Assistant U.S. Attorney Laura H. Parsky, daughter of President George W. Bush confidant Gerald Parsky, to judgeships in Orange and San Diego counties, respectively.
Schwarzenegger’s Democratic opponent, state Treasurer Phil Angelides, was set to weigh in Saturday with a press conference in front of the Glendale courthouse, where he was to pledge greater diversity in judicial appointments. The Mexican American Bar Association and Latina Lawyers Association were also set to participate in that event, a spokesperson for the Democratic Party said.
Copyright 2006, Metropolitan News Company