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The California Judges Association and its executive director of only seven months have parted ways. CJA President Gregory O’Brien Jr. and lobbyist Michael Belote confirmed Thursday that Keenan Casady’s last day as executive director was Jan. 31. Casady had been with the group only since July 1. “He is no longer with the association,” Belote said. “The exact terms of his separation are being discussed now and haven’t been finalized, and I am going to be acting executive director until [the group finds] a replacement.” Neither Belote nor O’Brien, a Los Angeles County Superior Court judge, would provide details about the departure, even to confirm whether it was a firing or a resignation. They also declined to characterize whether it was an amicable parting. O’Brien, however, said Casady has retained an attorney, San Francisco employment lawyer Eli Gould. “We’re discussing with Mr. Casady even today and tomorrow exactly the details of any announcement,” O’Brien said Thursday. Casady, contacted at his Walnut Creek home, refused to comment. “I am not in a position to say anything,” he said. “I’m not at liberty to discuss it at all.” MBV Law’s Gould, a former Bingham McCutchen partner who represents employers and managers on employment and labor issues, didn’t return calls seeking comment. Casady had replaced Constance “Connie” Dove, who had been the executive director of the Oakland-based lobbying and advocacy group for 21 years. Casady got his master’s degree in judicial administration at the University of Denver College of Law and a master’s in political science from UC-Santa Cruz. He began his career in 1977 as a court management analyst with the Judicial Council of California before becoming a clerk for the Fourth District Court of Appeal in San Diego in 1982. Casady moved to Miami in 1988 to serve as executive of the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida, then returned seven years later to take a job as the clerk and chief administrative officer of the U.S. bankruptcy court in San Francisco. He left that post in 2001 and went to Albania, where he consulted on the administrative and operational needs of the European country’s judiciary. Belote, a contract lobbyist with California Advocates who has been working with the CJA for nine years, said more information about Casady’s departure would likely be available early next week, possibly Monday. “We want to be scrupulously fair to everyone,” he said, “and it’s not a time to make statements.” Judge O’Brien couldn’t be reached late Thursday to say what tasks face the 74-year-old CJA, which acts as a semi-union for the state’s judges, pushing for pay and retirement benefits and providing, among other things, insurance programs and ethics advice. But in an October interview with Los Angeles’ Metropolitan News-Enterprise, O’Brien said Dove’s departure and Casady’s arrival provided an opportunity for change. “We can look again at our policies, at our committees, at our operational and organizational structure, and determine if we are on track,” he said. “I will talk to the board about looking at the organization, to see if it’s still the organization we want or if we ought to make some changes consistent with the new realities.” On Thursday, Belote said the CJA has several issues facing it, including proposals to change constitutional provisions relating to the structure of the judicial system. “These are challenging times for the association, just given the state of the state budget and issues facing the courts,” Belote said. “We think a functioning judges’ association is critical.” He also said it’s important for the group to get a permanent executive director, and said the search would begin immediately. “The legal responsibility for running the association is vested in the officers, the president,” Belote said, “but somebody has to manage the staff and give advice on association issues.”

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