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7 W. St. U. L. Rev. 159 (1979-1980)
California's Judiciary: An Endangered Institution

handle is hein.journals/wsulr7 and id is 167 raw text is: California's Judiciary: An
Endangered Institution
The electorate would not think of undertaking to select at a general
election the engineer who is to design a bridge upon which thousands of
thepopulation each day must pass in safety. It is quite as absurdfor the
electorate to attempt a selection of the very special talents which are
required in a judge in passin4 upon the rights to life, liberty andprop-
erty of thousands of citizens.
Between 1934 and 1978 the need to protect California trial court
judges from the deleterious effects2 of contested elections was minimal;
they were generally not challenged,3 and appellate court judges were
retained by more than eighty-five percent of the vote.4 The June 1978
primary, however, saw the defeat of five superior court judges5 and the
narrow confirmation of California's Chief Justice.6
The removal of incumbent judges through contested elections has
signaled a new ball game for the selection of judges. There are some
people that believe that this gives one clear signal, and that is that any
judge is fair game to an adroitly run campaign, to someone who wants
office and can garner headlines and mobilize a good public relations
campaign.'7 In her address to the annual convention of the State Bar
in September 1978, Chief Justice Rose Bird warned that, []udges are
being perceived as easy targets and are being portrayed in a manner
calculated to create prejudice in the public mind. .    . those who attack
for momentary political advantage have not hesitated to seize upon this
1. Kales, Methods of Selecting and Retiring Judges, PROCEEDINGS MINN. S.B.A. 85, 90-91
2. Elections of judges have been criticized on the basis of unethical campaign practices,
soaring campaign costs, etc. Vanosdol, Politics and Judicial Selection, 28 ALA. LAW. 167 (1967).
See also Nelson, Variations on a Theme-Selection and Tenure of Judges, 36 S. CAL. L. REV. 4, 28-
30 (1962), which presents the pro and con arguments regarding the elective system.
3. An article by Kit and Preble Stolz which first appeared in CALIFORNIA JOURNAL, re-
printed in Stolz & Stolz, Are Judges Expected to Be Politicians, L.A. Daily J., Oct. 5, 1978, at 4,
col. 3.
4. Id But see text accompanying notes 65-67 infra.
5. An article by Kit and Preble Stolz which first appeared in CALIFORNIA JOURNAL, re-
printed in Stolz & Stolz, Are Judges Expected to Be Politicians?, L.A. Daily J., Oct. 5, 1978, at 4,
col. 3.
6. Kline, Judges Should Be Confirmed, L.A. Daily J., Mar. 22, 1979, at 4, col. 6.
7. Address by Jim Cooper, commentator for KOCE-TV, Western State University College
of Law panel discussion (March 2, 1979).

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