The odds that lawmakers will create 50 new judgeships just got a little longer. The Assembly missed a procedural deadline today for voting on the judge-creating bill, which means it now needs approval from two-thirds of the house — always a dicey proposition in the highly partisan Legislature.
The problem? Assembly Speaker Fabian Nuñez and Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger are still squabbling over judicial picks. Nuñez, as you’ll recall, says the governor isn’t appointing enough minorities, and he won’t authorize more than 25 new bench positions until Schwarzenegger makes some changes.
What those changes might be is the $64 million question. Random thoughts from conversations around the Capitol: It’s no secret that Nuñez is not a big fan of judicial appointments adviser John Davies. But it’s unlikely the governor would give Davies the boot over the current dust-up. We might see Democrats shine a more critical light on the handful of secretive panels around the state that screen potential judges for Schwarzenegger. Or we could see changes in the application process that encourage more women and ethnic minorities to apply.
Or nothing may change in the Legislature’s last week of session. Nuñez’s greatest power right now might be his authority to say “no” to the governor.
UPDATE: The Assembly took a procedural vote Thursday night that will allow the new-judges bill to pass with a simple majority vote. A deal on 50 judges appears in sight — again. Look for changes to the application that would-be judges complete. A new form may put less emphasis on trial experience in an attempt to attract a broader range of candidates.
— Cheryl Miller