Thursday, April 5, 2007
Bench-Bar Coalition, AOC Urge Support for New Judgeship Bill
By a MetNews Staff Writer
Bench-Bar Coalition Co-Chair Anthony Capozzi yesterday expressed optimism that a new bill creating 50 additional judgeships statewide would succeed in Sacramento.
“We’re hoping it will get through the Legislature, and the governor has indicated he would be supportive of it,” Capozzi said of Assembly Bill 159.
The bill, introduced Jan. 18 by Assemblyman David Jones, D-Sacramento, and sponsored by the Judicial Council, would create 50 new superior court judgeships and an unspecified number of Court of Appeal judgeships, subject to appropriations, and authorize the conversion of 162 eligible commissioner and referee positions officer positions into judgeships, upon vacancy.
Capozzi noted that despite the success of AB 159’s predecessor, SB 56—which created 50 new judgeships throughout the state and passed overwhelmingly with bipartisan support—strong lobbying would be needed to help ensure passage of the bill, which is scheduled to be heard for the first time next Tuesday in the Assembly Judiciary Committee.
About 120 lawyers and judges gathered in Sacramento on Feb. 26-27 to persuade legislators to support the bill, he said, adding that the Administrative Office of the Courts’ Office of Governmental Affairs sent out a “follow up” e-mail to members of the Bench-Bar Coalition Monday urging them to write members of the Assembly Judiciary Committee in support of AB 159.
The e-mail states:
“It is imperative that Judiciary [C]ommittee members hear from bar and legal services leaders—particularly those who practice in courts slated to receive new judgeships—regarding the critical need for these judgeships and the benefits that they will bring to the entire justice community.”
Individual Perspectives Important
Donna Hershkowitz, assistant director of the AOC’s Office of Governmental Affairs, told the MetNews the Judicial Council believed lawmakers needed to know from individual perspectives what effect a lack of judges has had, and what the addition of new judges would mean for each of the local communities that would be affected.
“It is of course early in the process,” Hershkowitz added, saying there is “plenty of time” for individuals and organizations to express their support for the bipartisan bill.
Based on a proposed allocation of judgeships approved by the Judicial Council, the greatest number of judges would be allocated to Riverside, San Bernardino and Sacramento counties. Los Angeles would be allocated only one new judgeship.
Copyright 2007, Metropolitan News Company