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Born: Sept. 8, 1935Appointed: April 24, 1996, by WilsonPrevious work of note: Riverside County Superior Court judge (Wilson), 1993-96. Partner at Riverside’s Thompson & Colgate, 1964-1993. Deputy district attorney, 1960-61. Law degree: University of San Francisco School of Law (1959)Notable opinions: County of Riverside v. Keegan, 54 Cal.App.4th 269; Allan v. Snow Summit, 51 Cal.App 4th 1358James Ward must be a glutton for punishment. First, he took on the thankless task of trying to fix the State Bar’s Judicial Nominees Evaluation Committee after it found itself the subject of political sniping.Now, he is vice-chairman of a panel charged with turning California’s verbose and complicated jury instructions into layman’s language that jurors can actually understand.But Ward isn’t complaining. In fact, he’s proud of his role in saving the JNE Commission, which he says plays an important role in the selection of judges. Commissioners investigate the reputation of those being considered for a judgeship and turn the results over to the governor and the Commission on Judicial Appointments. But a few years back, when it leaked out that the group was going to brand Pete Wilson Supreme Court pick Janice Rogers Brown as “unqualified,” Wilson and other Republicans went ballistic. Ward was asked to head an investigation into the leak and suggest structural changes aimed at erasing the perception of liberal bias in the commission’s recommendations. By all accounts, Ward’s reforms were a success.Ward’s background is in civil litigation, and he specialized in representing media companies at Riverside’s Thomson & Colgate. Ward’s published opinions, though, have addressed a diverse array of issues, including family and criminal law.In County of Riverside v. Keegan, 54 Cal.App.4th 269, Ward rejected a father’s argument that a trial court lacked jurisdiction to order child support payments, but the California Supreme Court agreed to review the decision.POLITICAL CONTRIBUTIONS: Ward gave $1,600 to Gov. Pete Wilson’s gubernatorial campaigns during the early 1990s.

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