When California’s courts can’t do their job: A new rule that could affect the future of civil justice
By Daniel B. BoeselSource: Business Insider | October 28, 2018 12:16:17AMCalifornia courts can no longer do their jobs without relying on state-appointed judges, according to a new rule from the state’s highest court.
California Supreme Court Judge Richard Leon, who oversaw the state-mandated California Supreme Court, has issued a memo that requires judges to have “a proven track record” in handling the state court system.
Leon says judges have “the right and duty to exercise the powers of judicial office.”
Leon’s memo says the rules governing California courts are designed to “ensure that judges who have been appointed or retained by the state do not have a record of being ineffective.”
The court is currently in the process of issuing a final rule to revise the rules to require judges to get a state-issued degree from a college, law school or law practice.
The move to create a requirement for a degree has been criticized by civil rights groups as a way to limit the number of qualified judges.
But the rules also come as a big change for California’s state court.
In April, the court’s Republican majority in the state Assembly voted to strip a new provision from the law that would have required judges to go through an annual residency test, which would have made it more difficult for judges to hold court.
That provision was struck down by a state court judge.
Leon has not responded to a request for comment from Business Insider about the new requirement.
Leon said in his memo that he decided to issue the rule because he believed it would ensure that judges in California have the experience to serve the state.
“If we are to keep California in a position where its courts have the authority and resources to serve its citizens effectively, then we must be prepared to make those decisions with the experience and judgment of our state’s most prominent judges,” Leon wrote.
In the past, the state Supreme Court has ruled that judges have to go to a college or law school to obtain their law degree.
But Leon says that would not be the case with the new rule.
Leon wrote that while judges would have to obtain a bachelor’s degree from an accredited school, they could still have a high school diploma or a high-school equivalency certificate from a public university.
“I have decided that a person’s college of choice, and not a degree, is a more appropriate indicator of a persons suitability to serve as a California Superior Court judge,” Leon said in the memo.
Leon also said he was concerned about the “growing trend of the courts using judges’ personal experiences and experiences of the job to make decisions that do not serve the public interest.”
“While there is nothing inherently wrong with using a person who has served in a state or federal court to provide opinions on matters before the courts, a judge who has a personal and extensive background in the law and judicial decision-making process, and who has been in a judge’s position before, has a legitimate basis for taking such a position,” Leon added.