California judicial elections:
The current Supreme Court has six Republican appointees and one Democratic appointee.
California has three Supreme Court Justices on the ballot this November:
The current Chief Justice, Ronald George, is retiring from the court. Governor Schwarzenegger has appointed Justice Tani Cantil-Sakauye of the Third Circuit Court of Appeals, to replace him as Chief Justice. On August 26th, Justice Cantil-Sakauye was confirmed by the State Committee on Judicial Appointments. If she is approved by the voters on election day, she will become the first non-white Chief Justice in the history of the court and will also give the California Supreme Court its first female majority.
Justice Ming Chin and Justice Charles Moreno are also running for retention. Justice Chin was appointed in 1996 by Republican Governor Pete Wilson, and retained by the voters in 1998. Justice Moreno-the only member of the Court to be appointed by a Democratic governor-was appointed by Governor Gray Davis in 2001 to finish out the term of Justice Stanley Mosk, who died while in office. In 2002 he was retained by the voters, allowing him to finish out Mosk’s term, which expires at the end of 2010.
California Court System
The highest court in the state of California is the Supreme Court, which consists of seven justices-one chief justice and six associate justices. The Supreme Court is the final court of appeal for all interpretations of California law and the California Constitution.
Supreme Court justices are appointed by the governor of California and must be confirmed by the State Committee on Judicial Appointments, a three-member panel consisting of the Chief Justice, the Court of Appeal’s Presiding Justice, and the Attorney General of the state. (Under state law, a committee consisting of the California state bar must issue a recommendation as to the qualifications of the candidate, but neither the governor nor the Commission needs to follow that recommendation.) After the Justice is confirmed, he or she must stand for retention at the next gubernatorial election. The Justice then serves a twelve-year term, and then must stand for retention again.
Courts of Appeals
Below the Supreme Court are the California Courts of Appeal. These are the intermediate appellate courts of the state of California, and they review all final reviewable orders from the trial courts. There are currently 105 court of appeals judges in California, spread throughout the six appellate districts: