Watching Chief Justice Tani Cantil-Sakauye give her State of the Judiciary speech on March 19, two things were clear: 1) The judicial branch is in capable hands under her leadership, and 2) what she doesn’t need from the Legislature is to make her job even tougher than it already is.
All observers eagerly waited to see how the chief justice would address AB 1208, legislation that would decentralize the court system and undermine the authority of the state’s Judicial Council, which Cantil-Sakauye heads. While she avoided mentioning the bill, she outlined how the trial court unification that began just 15 years ago has resulted in a better court system that is easier for Californians to use than it used to be. Plaintiffs and defendants deserve certainty, uniformity and efficiency in dealing with the court system and court unification has helped with this in numerous ways including jury instructions, expedited jury trials and electronic discovery. AB 1208 threatens to move us in the opposite direction and factionalize our court system.
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