Tuesday, April 3, 2007
CJP Elects Horn, McConnell as Leaders
By TINA BAY, Staff Writer
The Commission on Judicial Performance has elected Orange Superior Court Judge Frederick P. Horn to serve as its chair for the 2007-2008 term, the body said yesterday.
At its meeting last Wednesday, the CJP also elected Presiding Justice Judith D. McConnell of the fourth appellate district’s Div. One as its vice-chair.
Horn, appointed to the commission by the Supreme Court in October 2003, told the MetNews he is “looking forward” to his new leadership role.
“I think there’s always room for improvement, and we’ll be exploring ways we can continue to strike the appropriate balance between the public’s demand for a fair and impartial judiciary and increasing workloads,” the 64-year-old judge said. “In the over three years that I’ve been there, I’ve realized that it is very challenging and demanding work with very few rewards, but it’s very important work.”
Horn noted that his experience allows him to bring to his new role “some very fresh, broad perspectives to what is a unique environment for discussion.”
Appointed to the Orange County Municipal Court in 1990 by then-Gov. George Deukmejian, he was elevated to the Superior Court bench in 1993 by then-Gov. Pete Wilson.
He served as the court’s presiding judge from 2002 to 2006 and is currently supervising judge of its civil panel.
“Being one of just three judicial officers on the commission, it’s helpful to have a broad experience and understanding of the differing problems and situations that judges encounter in various sizes and shapes of jurisdictions,” Horn said.
In addition to his activities on the Superior Court, he chaired the Judicial Council of California’s Trial Court Presiding Judges Advisory Committee from 2001 to 2003, and served on the council’s Advisory Committee on Access and Fairness from 1994 to 2001, chairing it from 1998 to 2001.
Since 1995, Horn has been actively involved in judicial education, currently serving as a member of the California Continuing Judicial Studies Program Planning Committee, as well as faculty for the B.E. Witkin Judicial College of California, the California Continuing Judicial Studies Program, and the New Judges Education Program.
Prior to his appointment, Horn was a Los Angeles Deputy District Attorney from 1974 to 1991, serving in the Hard-Core Gang as well as Crimes Against Police Officers units. Before his admission to the State Bar in 1974, he worked as an investigator in the same office.
He graduated from the University of West Los Angeles and earned his law degree from the University of West Los Angeles School of Law in 1974.
Horn succeeds attorney Marshall B. Grossman.
McConnell, named to the CJP by the high court in March 2005, told the MetNews she considered her new post on the commission a “very serious responsibility” and a “big challenge.”
“It’s important that the commission maintain the high regard that Californians have for their judiciary,” she said, adding the state was fortunate to have “an outstanding judiciary with very few problems.”
McConnell, 63, was appointed to the bench by then-Gov. Jerry Brown Jr., who first named her to the San Diego Municipal Court in 1977 and then elevated her to the Superior Court in 1980.
During her tenure on the Superior Court, McConnell twice served as presiding judge, as well as presiding judge of the juvenile court and supervising judge of the court’s appellate, family, and civil law and motion departments.
She served two terms on the Judicial Council, chairing its Superior Court and Planning committees and serving on the council’s Blue Ribbon Task Force on Jury System Improvement, the Commission on the Future of the Courts, and the Advisory Committee on Gender Bias in the Courts.
She has served as faculty on the California Continuing Judicial Studies Program and the California Judicial College, and is frequently lectures for various legal and judicial educational programs sponsored by the California Judges Association. In 1997, she was elected to the American Law Institute.
Before coming to the bench, McConnell had a general civil practice for two years, prior to which she worked for the state’s Department of Transportation in San Diego from 1969 to 1976. She also served as a research attorney for the New Jersey Supreme Court in 1975.
Both her 1966 undergraduate and 1969 law degrees are from UC Berkeley.
McConnell was admitted to the State Bar in 1970.
The third judicial officer serving on the CJP—which is composed of three judges, two lawyers and six public members—is San Francisco Superior Court Judge Katherine Feinstein, whom the Supreme Court appointed last month.
Two of the public member positions are currently vacant, one awaiting appointment by the Senate Rules Committee and the other by the Speaker of the Assembly.
The CJP, tasked with investigating complaints of judicial misconduct and incapacity and disciplining judges, former judges and court commissioners and referees, meets about seven times per year, with its next meeting slated for May 23 and 24.
Copyright 2007, Metropolitan News Company