SAN FRANCISCO—The California Supreme Court today announced the reappointment of two current members and the appointment of a new member to fill a vacancy on the Supreme Court Committee on Judicial Ethics Opinions (CJEO), an independent committee appointed by the court to help inform the judiciary and the public on judicial ethics topics. The committee was established by the Supreme Court as part of its constitutional responsibility to guide the conduct of judges and judicial candidates (Cal. Const, art VI, § 18(m)).
Justice Judith L. Haller of the Court of Appeal, Fourth Appellate District and Judge Michael T. Garcia (Ret.) of the Superior Court of Sacramento County were both reappointed to serve additional four-year terms as CJEO members. Judge Samantha P. Jessner of the Superior Court of Los Angeles County was appointed to serve a four-year term. The reappointments and appointment are effective January 1, 2017, through December 31, 2020.
CJEO is authorized by the Supreme Court to provide judicial ethics advisory opinions and advice for the benefit of the judiciary and the public (Cal. Rules of Court, rule 9.80(a)). The committee publishes formal opinions, issues confidential informal opinions, and provides oral advice on proper judicial conduct pursuant to the California Code of Judicial Ethics and other authorities (rule 9.80(e)(1)). CJEO acts independently of the Supreme Court, the Commission on Judicial Performance, the Judicial Council, and all other entities (rule 9.80(b)).
In making appointments to serve on CJEO, the Supreme Court considers a wide range of judicial experience, including factors such as a strong background in judicial ethics, experience as a presiding judge, courtroom experience in a variety of settings, and service in courts of different sizes throughout the state. The goal is to create a committee that reflects the diversity of challenges encountered by California judges, who function in varied environments.
As the newest member of the committee, Judge Jessner has a strong background in judicial ethics as a faculty member with the Judicial Council Center for Judicial Education and Research where she has taught qualifying ethics to judges throughout Southern California. Judge Jessner has also been actively involved in court technology as an educator and administrator, serving as a member of the Judicial Council Information Technology Advisory Committee and its projects subcommittee, and serving as chair of the Los Angeles Superior Court Technology Committee and its educational subcommittees. Her judicial assignments have included unlimited civil trials, criminal trials, and supervising judge of the mental health courthouse. She is a frequent judicial instructor at her court, in the legal community, and throughout the judicial branch.
The Supreme Court Committee on Judicial Ethics Opinions members are: Justice Ronald B. Robie of the Court of Appeal, Third Appellate District (chair); Justice Douglas P. Miller of the Court of Appeal, Fourth Appellate District, Division Two (vice-chair); Justice Maria P. Rivera of the Court of Appeal, First Appellate District, Division Four; Justice Judith L. Haller of the Court of Appeal, Fourth Appellate District, Division One; Presiding Judge Suzanne N. Kingsbury of the Superior Court of El Dorado County; Judge Robert J. Trentacosta of the Superior Court of San Diego County; Judge Kenneth K. So of the Superior Court of San Diego County; Judge Michael T. Garcia (Ret.) of the Superior Court of Sacramento County; Judge Samantha P. Jessner of the Superior Court of Los Angeles County; Judge George J. Abdallah, Jr. of the Superior Court of San Joaquin County; Judge Curtis E.A. Karnow of the Superior Court of San Francisco County; and Commissioner Lowell E. Richards of the Superior Court of Contra Costa County.