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It’s been 10 years since Ronald George became chief justice of the California Supreme Court. Cal Law reflects on his legacy with a series profiling five of the seven justices who have been on the court the longest. Even after 10 years on the job, Ronald George shows not the remotest sign of stepping down as chief justice of the California Supreme Court. At a spry 66, he’s as tireless as the Energizer Bunny, whether he’s grilling attorneys during oral arguments, playing the political game with legislators in Sacramento or just working a roomful of admirers with a firm handshake and a big smile. And he genuinely loves what he’s doing. In fact, as his one-decade anniversary as the court’s top dog quickly approaches this Monday, many predict George could still be chief justice in 2016, and possibly 2026. A fit man who hikes, skis and runs marathons � including those in New York and Boston � George has already served as chief justice longer than all but three of his 26 predecessors. Former Assembly Democrat Phillip Isenberg, a fan of George’s who is a partner in Sacramento’s Isenberg/O’Haren, crows “10 more years, 10 more years” when the moderate Republican’s name comes up. “People like him, people trust him, people believe in him � even when they disagree with him,” Isenberg says. Certainly, another 10 or 20 years as chief justice would cement George’s legacy. But even now, friends, acquaintances and critics say, George has made a sizable mark. If he resigned today, they say, the native Los Angeleno would go down in history as an astute administrator who reshaped the state’s judicial system and its facilities, and as a savvy politician who, through his rulings and persuasive personality, muscled up the judiciary as a legitimate and independent third branch of government. “No one disputes that the chief justice is a great jurist,” says state Sen. Joseph Dunn, D-Garden Grove. “What few understand is how well he has managed the development of the judiciary both within the branch and as to the other two branches of government. We are poised to secure the independence and security of the judicial branch in California solely because of Chief Justice Ron George.” Over time, however, the chief has garnered critics who believe he’s cozied up too much to the legislative and executive branches of government. And some outright enemies think he’s consolidated too much power in his office while discouraging dissent by his colleagues. George’s supporters see those criticisms as politically na�ve. In fact, Dunn, chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, says George understands politics in a way “that I have never seen in any previous chief justice.”
Ronald George’s 10-years as chief justice

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