Monday, November 19, 2012
Beth Jay, Principal Attorney to Three Chief Justices, Set to Retire
By a MetNews Staff Writer
Beth Jay, who served as the principal attorney to three chief justices during her 33-year career at the California Supreme Court, will retire at the end of the year, the Administrative Office of the Courts said Friday.
The AOC, in a release, said Jay is retiring primarily to focus on addressing some long-standing health challenges, but may return to the court several months from now in a less-than-full-time capacity, at the chief justice’s discretion.
“I have had the best job in the business for more than 25 years,” Jay was quoted as saying. “The opportunity to serve with three extraordinary Chief Justices, and to work with so many other remarkable jurists, attorneys, and staff in every aspect of my service has been a true gift.”
Jay, a graduate of Vassar College and Stanford Law School, began her career in private practice in San Mateo County before becoming a staff attorney at the Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.
In 1980 Jay joined the California Supreme Court as a staff attorney, first to Justice Frank Richardson, and then to Justice Malcolm M. Lucas when he replaced Richardson in 1984. When Lucas became chief justice in 1987, Jay became a key advisor on policy and administrative issues affecting the court and the branch.
Over the years, Jay has served on numerous Supreme Court, Judicial Council, and State Bar committees studying such issues as judicial ethics, professionalism, multi-jurisdictional practice, accreditation of online law schools, publication of Court of Appeal decisions, providing competent counsel to death row inmates, and attorney discipline and admissions.
The longest part of Jay’s service as principal attorney was spent working with Chief Justice Ronald M. George, who served from 1996 to 2010. According to the press release, George remembers Jay as “an invaluable resource for three Chief Justices of California, for the Supreme Court, and for the entire judicial branch during her more than three decades of exceptional public service… [Her] special blend of analytical and practical skills as my Principal Attorney always provided me with wise counsel.”
The release also quotes praise from Lucas:
“Beth was invaluable… I relied on her quite a bit. She was very smart, always fast, always responsive, and always efficient. She has been a fine public servant and deserves her retirement.”
Chief Justice Tani G. Cantil-Sakauye, who Jay continued to serve under, called Jay “an invaluable and trusted adviser to me during the last 23 months.”
In 1980 Jay was awarded the prestigious Bernard E. Witkin Medal, which honors attorneys, judges, and legal scholars whose lifetime body of work has altered the legal landscape, and earlier this year was presented with the Access to Justice Award by OneJustice, a group that supports a statewide network of non-profit legal organizations.
Copyright 2012, Metropolitan News Company