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California Proposition 221, Oversight of Court Commissioners (1998)

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California Proposition 221 was on the June 2, 1998 statewide primary ballot in California as a legislatively-referred constitutional amendment proposing a new amendment to the California Constitution. It was overwhelmingly approved.

Proposition 221 gave the state's Commission on Judicial Performance the authority to oversee and discipline court commissioners or referees. The Commission already had that authority over judges. Proposition 221 also said that a person who is found unfit to be a commissioner or referee by the Commission on Judicial Performance may not serve as a commissioner or referee.

Election results

California Proposition 221 (1998)
ResultVotesPercentage
Approveda Yes 4,274,331 81.00%
No1,002,62019.00%
See also: California ballot propositions that were approved with a vote of 80% or more

Constitutional changes

Proposition 221 added an entirely new section (Section 18.1) to Article VI of the California Constitution.

The text of Section 18.1, added by Proposition 221, is:

The Commission on Judicial Performance shall exercise discretionary jurisdiction with regard to the oversight and discipline of subordinate judicial officers, according to the same standards, and subject to review upon petition to the Supreme Court, as specified in Section 18.

No person who has been found unfit to serve as a subordinate judicial officer after a hearing before the Commission on Judicial Performance shall have the requisite status to serve as a subordinate judicial officer.

This section does not diminish or eliminate the responsibility of a court to exercise initial jurisdiction to discipline or dismiss a subordinate judicial officer as its employee.

Text of measure

Title

The ballot title was:[1]

Subordinate Judicial Officers. Discipline. Legislative Constitutional Amendment.

Summary

Proposition 221.PNG

The official ballot summary for Proposition 221 was:[1]

  • This measure grants the Commission on Judicial Performance discretionary authority with regard to the oversight and discipline of subordinate judicial officers, subject to California Supreme Court review, according to same standards as judges.
  • Provides that no person found unfit to serve as subordinate judicial officer after hearing before Commission shall have status required to serve as subordinate judicial officer.
  • Responsibility of court to initially discipline or dismiss subordinate judicial officer as employee not diminished or eliminated by measure.

Fiscal impact

The California Legislative Analyst's Office provided an estimate of net state and local government fiscal impact for Proposition 221. That estimate was:[1]

"Probably minor, if any, state costs for the Commission on Judicial Performance to provide oversight and discipline over court commissioners and referees."

Background

The California Legislative Analyst's Office prepared a "background" statement about Proposition 221 for the state's Voter Guide. It said:[1]

Court commissioners and referees (generally referred to as "subordinate judicial officers") handle certain matters that come before the local courts. Typically, commissioners and referees handle less complex cases such as traffic matters, family and juvenile matters, and small claims cases. Also, they can serve as temporary judges and hear more complex matters when the parties agree. There are about 370 commissioners and referees throughout the state.
The presiding judge of each court is responsible for handling complaints and disciplinary matters against commissioners and referees. In contrast, the California Commission on Judicial Performance--an 11-member body appointed by the Supreme Court, the Governor, and the Legislature--handles complaints and disciplinary matters against judges.

Path to the ballot

Proposition 221 was voted onto the ballot by the California State Legislature via SCA 19 (Proposition 221).[1]

Votes in legislature to refer to ballot
Chamber Ayes Noes
Assembly 72 1
Senate 39 0

See also

External links

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