Thursday, January 6, 2011

Will Lightning Strike Twice?

Probably not.  I can't play Nostadamus forever.  But there are only so many Court of Appeal justices who:
  • were appointed to the trial court by Governor Brown or Governor Davis (or elected during another administration)
  • were elevated to the Court of Appeal by Governor Brown or Governor Davis, and
  • are about the same age as other recent high court appointees.  Chief Justice Cantil-Sakauye, Justice Corrigan, and the last four U.S. Supreme Court Justices -- Kagan, Sotomayor, Alito, and Roberts -- were all appointed in their 50s.
These seem like reasonable criteria for narrowing down the likely candidates, even though many fine possible additions to the court would not meet them.  Recent reports suggest Governor Brown will look to someone with prior judicial experience, which suggests a Court of Appeal justice.  (A federal judge, or even a state court trial judge, is another possibility.)  It is plausible the governor may appoint someone previously tapped by himself or Governor Davis, though governors do not always select judges who share their political party.

My research shows 4 or 5 justices who fit the bill.  Maybe 6 or 7 others would fit if we expanded the pool to justices in their early 60s.  I'll share the results of my research shortly.

(As always, I have zero inside information from people affiliated with the court system.  I just checked the judicial bios on the public website. Take a look yourself.)