McGeorge Adjunct Professor Chris Micheli outside the California State Capitol

California’s judicial branch is supported by several important entities that assist the judiciary in operating efficiently. These include the Commission on Judicial Appointments and the Commission on Judicial Performance. Let’s take a look at what they do, and who make up the memberships of these Commissions.

Commission on Judicial Appointments

The Commission on Judicial Appointments, CJA, is charged with reviewing gubernatorial appointments to the appellate courts or Supreme Court in our state. When an attorney is nominated by the Governor, that appointee must be reviewed by the CJA. There is a public hearing that’s held on the nomination so that the appointee’s credentials can be considered in a public forum. The appointment of an appellate or Supreme Court justice is effective once the CJA confirms the individual.

CJA is comprised of the Chief Justice of the California Supreme Court – currently Tani Cantil-Sakauye – and California’s Attorney General – currently Xavier Becerra. The third member of the Commission depends on whether the nominated justice is being appointed to a court of appeals in California or to California’s Supreme Court. In the case of an appellate court, it is the most senior presiding justice on the court of appeal of the affected district. In the case of Supreme Court nominee, the third member is the state’s most senior presiding justice from the court of appeal.

Commission on Judicial Performance 

The Commission on Judicial Performace, CJP, is charged with overseeing judges in the state. It is an independent state agency. The powers granted to the CJP by California’s Constitution include the authority to remove a judge or censure a judge for any action that constitutes willful misconduct or if there is persistent failure or inability for the judge to perform their duties. The CJP also has the authority to publicly or privately admonish a judge who engaged in some sort of improper actions or dereliction of duty. It can also retire a judge for disability when it seriously interferes with the performance of the judge’s ability. Any CJP proposal to remove, censure, admonish, or retire a judge is subject to review by the California Supreme Court.

The Commission on Judicial Performance has 11 members, each of whom serve four-year terms. It’s membership includes:

  • 3 judges appointed by the Supreme Court
  • 4 members appointed by the Governor, 2 of which must be attorneys
  • 2 members appointed by the Assembly Speaker
  • 2 members appointed by the Senate Rules Committee

You can read the transcript of today’s podcast here.