Thursday, May 9, 2002
McCall, Schickman Named Chair, Vice Chair of JNE Commission
By NAZANIN AGANGE, Staff Writer
San Francisco attorney Abbe McCall has been named chair of the Judicial Nominees Commission, the State Bar panel that performs confidential evaluations of all judicial nominees being considered by the governor’s office, bar President Karen Nobumoto said yesterday.
McCall, a former vice chair and three-year member of the JNE Commission, was appointed head of the commission by the State Bar Board of Governors in closed session on Saturday.
Mark Schickman, another San Francisco attorney, was appointed as vice chair.
Nobumoto said she could not comment on either of the candidates’ qualifications for confidentiality reasons.
McCall and Schickman will be sworn in on June 14 to begin serving their one-year terms.
The chair of the commission assigns the commissioners and handles any conflict of interests that arise, JNE Commissioner Jo-Ann Grace said.
“The most important skill for the chair is to be able to handle a diverse group under time constraints,” Grace said. “There’s no question that Abbe definitely has that skill.”
McCall, who is currently the commission’s co-vice chair, said the vice chair acts as an editor and compiles comments from the commissioners for the chair.
Schickman said he found out about the appointment yesterday and was “very excitied.”
“This is a spectacular group of people,” Schickman said. He called the commission “a joy to work with.”
McCall also expressed happiness at her appointment.
“One never expects something like this,” McCall said. “I truly enjoy my role on the commission.”
According to a 1980 state law, the governor’s office is required to submit the names of any judicial nominees to JNE Commission for evaluation. The commission, made up of attorneys and public members, has 90 days to conduct an investigation and interview of the nominee and submit an assessment of the candidate.
Gov. Gray Davis’ spokesman Alex Traverso said the commission’s review is one of the factors in the governor’s decision whether to appoint a candidate.
“A candidate’s experience, community work, variety of experience the candidate brings to the spot and how well they reflect the governor’s own values” are also factors in the decision, Traverso said.
The importance of the commission’s opinions of judicial nominees were diminished during the tenure of Gov. Pete Wilson, who is known for his open criticism of the State Bar.
However, Traverso said that “[Judicial Appointments] Secretary [Burt] Pines has done an excellent job of maintaining the relationship and things have been moving along swimmingly” in recent years.
Currently there are approximately 60 vacancies in California courts, Traverso said.
McCall said that despite the high number of vacancies the commission’s workload was “subject to the governor’s desires.” The commission itself does not have the power to nominate or appoint any judges.
Schickman concurred that the commission will focus on responding to the governor’s requests by providing thorough and accurate information.
He added that, while it is without a “proactive agenda,” the panel “has some of the hardest working people on any committee I’ve served on. It does some of the most important and high quality work that the State Bar or any group of volunteers does.”
McCall received her undergraduate degree from Mount Holyoke College in Massachusetts and earned her law degree from University of San Francisco School of Law in 1985. She now serves as senior staff attorney to Justice Ming Chin of the state Supreme Court.
Schickman is a partner of Cooper, White & Cooper, where he focuses his practice on employment litigation. He received his law degree from Columbia Law School in 1974. He is the former president of the Bar Association of San Francisco and an ex-member of the Board of Governors of the State Bar of California.
Copyright 2002, Metropolitan News Company