Tuesday, April 12, 2011
Judge House to Face S.D. Jurist for CJA Presidency
By SHERRI M. OKAMOTO, Staff Writer
Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Mary Thornton House and San Diego Superior Court Judge David M. Rubin, current vice presidents of the California Judges Association, have been nominated to serve as the group’s next president.
Both said yesterday that they were “honored” to receive the nominations on Friday during a board meeting that took place during the CJA retreat in Indian Wells and spoke highly of each other as potential leaders of the organization. The winner will take office in June.
House remarked that she did not have any specific plans for the organization, should she be elected, referencing “that old saying about life is what happens when you’re marking plans.”
She suggested that “events tend to drive what the needs of an organization are, and we have a lot of extremely critical issues for the judiciary coming up,” including pension reform and budget cuts. House added that the current controversy regarding AB 1208 and court governance “will be on the agenda” as well.
House declined to state her personal views, except to say she felt the survey conducted by the CJA “was outstanding” and “opened up a dynamic dialogue.”
The results of the survey, released last week, indicated that a majority of members are dissatisfied with current governance of the judicial branch and with the Judicial Council’s oversight of the Administrative Office of the Courts.
Members were almost evenly split as to whether they supported AB 1208, the Trial Court Rights Act of 2011, with 48 percent responding that they were generally or somewhat supportive and 45 percent saying they generally or somewhat opposed the bill.
Rubin said he wanted “to see the CJA continue to be in a position to drive the conversation that we started with this survey, and to really give important information and proposals to the chief [justice] and to our other branch partners.”
He said he thought the survey was “a great success,” noting that “in five days we had almost 900 members respond” with “well-through and heartfelt” answers.
The survey “really got the branch engaged on these important questions on policy and governance” so now “discussion is ongoing in the branch, and it’s healthy and it’s robust,” Rubin said.
Although he too declined to express his personal views on those issues, Rubin said it as “gratifying to see” his colleagues “talking to each other and exchanging ideas,” and that “this is an exciting time for the CJA as we continue to contribute to and lead the discussion about the direction the branch is taking.”
Rubin added that he was also concerned with how “pension proposals affect us and our members,” as well as continuing with the provision of educational opportunities and ethics advice.
House began her judicial career on the Pasadena Municipal Court as a 1996 appointee of then-Gov. Pete Wilson. She was elevated by unification in 2000 and went on to be a supervising judge in two districts, assistant supervising judge for the Los Angeles Superior Court civil division, and a candidate for assistant presiding judge in 2004.
She has served on the Los Angeles Superior Court’s Personnel and Budget Committee, on the Administrative Office of the Courts Small Claims Advisory Committee, and on the CJA’s Response to Criticism, Education & Planning, Legislative Outreach Committee. House has also been a member of the AOC’s semi-annual Kleps Awards committee.
The judge is currently vice chair of the B.E. Witkin Judicial College and slated to be chair for 2011-12. She was presented with the CJA’s Bernard S. Jefferson Award for Excellence in Judicial Education in 2008 and in February received the San Fernando Valley Bar Association Administration of Justice Award in recognition of her work on expedited jury trials legislation.
Rubin was elected to bench in 2006. He currently presides over a family law courtroom and serves as board liaison to the CJA’s Family Law Committee.
He has previously served as board liaison to the CJA’s Compensation & Benefits Oversight Committee, on his court’s Technology and Bench-Bar Relations committees, and was chair of its Domestic Violence Committee.
Prior to taking the bench, he was a prosecutor for 20 years with the San Diego County District Attorney’s Office.
In other news, the CJA announced yesterday that the organization will remain neutral on AB 1208, introduced in February by Assembly Majority Leader Charles Calderon, D-Industry, “due to the divided views revealed in the survey.”
That bill was assigned last week to the Assembly Committee on Committee on Accountability and Administrative Review, whose members include AOC critic Bonnie Lowenthal, D-Long Beach, bypassing the Judiciary Committee chaired by Judicial Council member Mike Feuer, D-West Hollywood.
A release from the CJA said that its board has reviewed over 120 pages of comments from over 800 judges and intends to approach the membership with three proposals regarding branch governance.
Copyright 2011, Metropolitan News Company