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Charting the Convention Effect SACRAMENTO � In a major political win for judicial leaders, lawmakers were expected Tuesday night to approve a $131 billion budget that includes money for 50 new judgeships and an 8.5 percent raise for judges on Jan. 1, 2007. The deal among legislative leaders and Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger also earmarks $10 million for interpreters in civil cases and � according to the Assembly speaker � includes assurances from the governor that his future judicial appointments will be more ethnically diverse. The spending plan is far sweeter to the courts than the one drafted by majority Democrats in the Legislature two weeks ago. That budget, shaped largely by the demands of Assembly Speaker Fabian Nu�ez, funded only 25 new judges and divided the 8.5 percent pay raise over two years. Nu�ez said then that the governor had not appointed enough women and people of color to the bench to warrant more judgeships. The resulting budget changes followed two weeks of intense lobbying by the chief justice, court administrators and judges from around the state. “I commend the speaker for his willingness to listen and learn about our needs,” Chief Justice Ronald George said Tuesday. Legislative leaders agreed to hike judges’ pay in a single year after “we made the case that really, we should do it now if we want to have a more immediate effect on our ability to attract and retain judges,” George said. Nu�ez spokesman Steve Maviglio said in an e-mail that the governor had assured the speaker that he would appoint more ethnic minorities. But he would not elaborate, declining to answer whether the governor had promised a specific number or percentage. The governor’s media office did not return a request for comment, although a spokeswoman said earlier this month that Schwarzenegger and his appointments adviser, John Davies, had no plans to change their selection practices. “I think, ultimately, conversations between the speaker and the chief justice and [between] the chief justice and the governor’s office provided the openness for discussions on how we can make changes to improve the [appointment] process,” said William Vickrey, administrative director of the courts. Neither the governor’s office nor the Judicial Council keep comprehensive statistics on the racial and ethnic makeup of appointees, largely because many judges � 30 percent in the Judicial Council’s review � refuse to identify themselves with a particular group. But some organizations have criticized the governor for not appointing more African-Americans, Asian-Americans, Latinos and women. Gary Farwell, president of the California Association of Black Lawyers, said his members supported Nu�ez’s attempts to secure more minority judges. “We have spoken to the governor’s office on more than one occasion about our concern about the need for more black appointees,” Farwell said. “Assurances � that’s what we’ve gotten. But we’re waiting for the proof.” Schwarzenegger, a Republican, has generally been praised for naming a politically diverse group of judges. Of his first 130 appointments, 48 percent were Democrats or registered as decline-to-state. But conservative members of Schwarzenegger’s party blasted the governor for not appointing enough Republicans. They introduced, and eventually withdrew, a resolution at the state party convention in February that criticized his bipartisanship. Although the measure fizzled, Schwarzenegger has appointed a significantly higher percentage of Republicans � 66 percent � since then. Judicial officials say legislative leaders have assured them the new judges will go to the Inland Empire, the Central Valley and other counties that the Judicial Council has determined have the greatest need. Kate Howard, the council’s chief lobbyist, said they’ll try immediately to revive a new-judge bill that stalled last year in the Assembly. The one-time, 8.5 percent pay raise will be added to a statutory, annual cost-of-living increase that legislative analysts expect will be between 3 percent and 4 percent. Trial judges currently earn $149,160. In related news, George said Nu�ez also “raised the issue” of pursuing some type of court construction bond. Earlier this year Democrats rejected Schwarzenegger’s call for bond financing of new prisons and courthouses. But the governor on Monday proposed lease-revenue financing, which doesn’t require voter approval, for prison construction. A similar process might work for the courts, George said.

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