Thursday, April 7, 2011
C.A. Justice Richard Huffman to Resign From Judicial Council
By Sherri M. Okamoto, Staff Writer
Fourth District Court of Appeal Justice Richard Huffman, who was a key ally of then-Chief Justice Ronald M. George on the Judicial Council of California, said yesterday he will resign from the council this summer.
Huffman, who chairs the council’s Executive and Planning Committee, is the latest of a number of branch leaders to announce a departure. Administrative Director of the Courts William C. Vickrey, Regional Director Sheila Calabro of the Southern Regional Office, and Executive Office Programs Division Director Kenneth Kann all announced last month that they will retire later this year.
Huffman. however, said his decision to step down June 30 was not occasioned by any external influence.
“This was just my own individual decision,” Huffman said. “There is no mass exodus lined up.”
He said he felt “it’s an appropriate time to make some changes” since “I have, after all, served 14 years on a three-year term.” The justice quipped that “most people would be entitled to parole long before.”
His latest term would end in September.
Even through the judiciary has been the target of much recent criticism regarding its governance and spending, Huffman said he felt “the council and the chief justice are doing a very good job right now, stepping up” and “things are looking up for the organization,” making it “a good time” for him to move on.
Chief Justice Tani Cantil-Sakauye yesterday issued a statement praising Huffman for having served the council “with wisdom, grace, and good humor” and having “made many valuable contributions to the administration of justice.”
Huffman said he was “looking forward to doing some other things on behalf of the bench,” but he had no specific plans yet.
Having served on the council, Huffman said “has been a very rewarding experience” and he was “pleased to have had the opportunity to participate.”
He remarked that he would miss his colleagues on the council but he “won’t miss the notebooks,” referring to the “six-inch” binders of material council members are given to review before meetings.
The justice has been a staunch defender of the council and the Administrative Office of the Courts, which it oversees.
He submitted letters to both the MetNews and San Diego’s major newspaper in recent months disputing allegations by Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Charles Horan, a director of the Alliance of California Judges. Horan and the alliance maintain that the council had failed to comply with the Legislature’s 1997 directive in the Lockyer-Isenberg Trial Court Funding Act to “adopt a Trial Court Bill of Financial Management Rights.”
Huffman has advocated the defeat of AB 1208, introduced in February by Assemblyman Charles Calderon, D-Industry, which would increase the autonomy of local trial courts and which purports to fulfill the Lockyer-Isenberg Act’s mandate.
Nominations are due next Friday for candidates to fill Huffman’s council seat, as well as that of Alameda Superior Court Judge Winifred Younge Smith, whose three-year term ends in September.
Horan said his group plans to nominate Fourth District Court of Appeal Justice Thomas Hollenhorst of Div. Two, an alliance director. He said the alliance nominated Hollenhorst for the seat vacated by Chief Justice Tani Cantil-Sakauye in January, but his nomination was “rejected almost immediately by Huffman’s committee.”
The position was eventually filled by Third District Court of Appeal Justice Harry E. Hull.
He added that “at least two alliance directors are going to be nominated” for the vacant superior court judge position on the Council. Although Horan declined to name names, “it ain’t me,” he disclosed.
“We’re trying to help,” Horan insisted, noting that two alliance members—Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Tia Fisher and Kern Superior Court Judge David Lampe—had also asked for positions on the chief justice’s newly-formed Strategic Evaluation Committee, but were “told ‘no’ within 24 hours” as the members had already been selected.
Horan remarked that the SEC “could be very useful, but the way they’re staffing it makes me wonder” since there is “not one so-called ‘dissident’” or “outspoken critic” on the committee.
Nominations are also being sought for a court administrator to serve as an advisory member of the Judicial Council, and those are due by June 30.
Copyright 2011, Metropolitan News Company