Friday, October 16, 2009

Commissioners want to be judges

The former Santa Cruz family court commissioner, Irwin H. Joseph, was on the Elkins Task Force. I have wondered what he could possibly contribute to the task force, as much of the purpose of the task force is to reform the bad practices of judges and commissioners like him.

Perhaps he wrote this recommendation:
14. Family and juvenile court assignments. The task force is aware of the Judicial Council’s established policy to ensure that judges, rather than subordinate judicial officers (SJOs), hear family and juvenile cases. For the long-term improvement and enhancement of the family law assignment, the task force supports the policy of encouraging judges to hear these matters. In each of the last three fiscal years, the Legislature has authorized the conversion of 162 SJO positions to judgeships in 25 courts. The conversions are capped at 16 per year and occur only upon vacancy in the SJO position. Legislation was introduced in 2009 (Assem. Bill 942 [Assem. Com. on Judiciary]) to allow up to 10 additional annual conversions of SJO positions to judgeships in eligible courts if, as a result of the conversion, a judge will be assigned to hear family or juvenile cases that prior to the conversion had been assigned to a commissioner. The task force recognizes and appreciates the depth of experience and expertise that many SJOs assigned to family and juvenile law have provided to the courts and litigants over many years. Therefore, the task force encourages experienced subordinate judicial officers who hear family law to seek judicial appointment. [p.74]
He has been just a commissioner for several years, and has been repeatedly passed over for promotion to a real judge. Maybe he thinks that this recommendation will get him that judgeship that he has always wanted. (The minutes do not show who pushed for this paragraph.)

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