Metropolitan News-Enterprise


Thursday, June 2, 2011


Page 3


Chief Justice Names Ashmann-Gerst, Two Others to Judicial Council

Buckley, Fisher Among Members of New ‘Accountability and Efficiency’ Group


By a MetNews Staff Writer


Chief Justice Tani Cantil-Sakauye yesterday named Court of Appeal Justice Judith M. Ashmann-Gerst to join the state Judicial Council.

Ashmann-Gerst, a member of this district’s Div. Two, is slated to fill a vacancy created by the resignation of Fourth District Court of Appeal Justice Richard D. Huffman, who was tapped yester- day to head the Judicial Council Advisory Committee on Financial Accountability and Efficiency for the Judicial Branch.

Ashmann-Gerst said she was “honored” by the appointment, which is effective July 1. “I appreciate the confidence the chief has placed in me,” she added.

She predicted that Cantil-Sakauye and the other new appointees will help “bring a fresh outlook to the council,” which is chaired by the chief justice.

It consists of 14 judicial members appointed by the chief justice, four attorney members appointed by the State Bar Board of Governors, one member from each house of the Legislature, and 11 advisory members.

Ashmann-Gerst said she believes “there are always improvements that can be made in any organization,” and “I go in with an open mind.”

The justice added that she “appreciate[s] the difficulties of balancing different interests,” but suggested there are “always solutions we can look for, to make sure we are getting the best results for the public, the litigants and the lawyers.”

Being on the council is “a very exciting new step for me,” she said, and “I look forward to working with my colleagues in this new position.”

Council Members

The chief justice also named  Sacramento Superior Court Judge David De Alba to the council. San Francisco Superior Court Judge Teri L. Jackson—currently an advisory member—was also appointed as a voting member, while Santa Clara Superior Court Executive Officer David H. Yamasaki becomes an advisory member.

Their terms are slated to begin in Sept.14.

Among those  Cantil-Sakauye tapped to serve with Huffman on the Accountability and Efficiency panel were Los Angeles Superior Court Judges Daniel J. Buckley and Tia Graves Fisher.

Buckley told the MetNews he was not approaching the assignment with any “specific purpose or agenda,” since he wanted to “get the information as to what has been happening” before formulating any goals.

“I know that it started with the trust of our presiding judge, Judge Lee Edmon, and Assistant Presiding Judge David Wesley, and I hope to follow up on their confidence in me and work hard on the committee,” he said.

Buckley went on to suggest that  “now is a prime time to be looking at transparency, accountability and efficiency,” and “I think that’s exactly what we need to focus on.”

Fisher, a director of the Alliance of California Judges, could not be reached for comment yesterday, but the group released a statement remarking:

“While the Alliance is pleased that Judge Fisher, an outspoken voice for reform, has been appointed. We are saddened to note that she is the lone voice.”

Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Susan Lopez-Giss, a fellow alliance director, commented that Fisher is “incredibly knowledgeable” and “aware of the history of the Judicial Council and AOC spending on a number of different issues,” having researched and reviewed many documents related to these topics.

“With that wisdom, I think she will bring some new insight to the body,” Lopez-Giss said.

Stated Purpose

Created in June 2010 by former Chief Justice Ronald M. George, the stated purpose of the committee is to promote “transparency, accountability, efficiency, and understanding” of the Administrative Office of the Courts and the judicial branch.

Huffman said he was “certainly pleased to have the opportunity” to lead the committee.

He acknowledged that “it’s a rather heavy charge that’s been laid” on the group, and “it’s going to take a lot of work and organization, but I’m ready to do this and make meaningful recommendations.”

The justice added that he was looking forward to working with the 19 other members of the committee, who he praised as “represent[ing] a very impressive segment of the judiciary and court administration.”

Effective July 1, the membership of the committee is set to include Court of Appeal Justice Kathleen E. O’Leary of the Fourth District, Div. Three as vice-chair; Sacramento Superior Court Judges David W. Abbott and Stacy Boulware Eurie; San Diego Superior Court Judge Lorna A. Alksne; San Bernardino Superior Court Judge Larry W. Allen; Humboldt Superior Court Judge Joyce D. Hinrichs; Sonoma Superior Court Judge Gary Nadler; Fresno Superior Court  Judge Robert H. Oliver; Contra Costa Superior Court  Judge Thomas M. Maddock; Orange Superior Court Judge Nancy Wieben Stock; retired Riverside Superior Court  Judge Ronald L. Taylor; and Santa Clara Superior Court Assistant Presiding Judge Brian C. Walsh.

Fourth District Court of Appeal Clerk/Administrator Stephen M. Kelly, Ventura Superior Court  Executive Officer Michael D. Planet, retired Butte Superior Court Executive Officer Sharol H. Strickland, Alameda Superior Court  Executive Officer Pat Sweeten and San Francisco Superior Court Executive Officer T. Michael Yuen were also named to the committee.

Huffman, who tendered his resignation from the Judicial Council effective June 30, also praised the chief justice’s selection of Ashmann-Gerst to succeed him on the rule-making body of the courts. “She’s a great candidate,” he said.

Justice’s Resume

Ashmann-Gerst was appointed to the appellate bench in 2001. She served on the Los Angeles Municipal Court from 1981 until she was elected to the superior court bench in 1986.

Prior to joining the court, she was the executive assistant U.S. attorney for the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Central District of California, special counsel to the City Attorney of Los Angeles , and a deputy attorney general for the California Department of Justice.

She is a member of the council’s Court Technology Advisory Committee, chairs the Appellate E-Filing Working Group, and is a former chair of the Judicial Education Technology Committee.

The justice also serves on the Supreme Court Committee on Judicial Ethics Opinions and is a past member of the council’s Science and Law Steering Committee.Fisher was a 2006 judicial appointee of then-Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger. She served as a court commissioner for six years with the Superior Court, and three years with the Santa Anita Municipal Court before this.

She was a Los Angeles deputy district attorney from 1987 to 1997 and clerked for a Wisconsin appellate judge from  1985 to 1986.

Buckley was appointed to the bench in 2002 by then-Gov. Gray Davis. At that time he was a partner in the Los Angeles firm of Breidenbach, Buckley, Huchting & Hamblet. He previously served as managing partner of the firm, which he joined in 1980.


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