Ronald George

From Ballotpedia
Jump to: navigation, search

Ronald George
March 11, 1940
California Supreme Court Justice
Assumed office
Second District Court of Appeal
In office
Succeeded byTani Cantil-Sakauye

Ronald M. George was the Chief Justice of the California Supreme Court when he retired in 2011. He was appointed to the court in July 29, 1991 by then-governor Pete Wilson. He was confirmed by the Senate and sworn in on September 3, 1991. He was elected to a full term on November 8, 1994. He served as Chief Justice from March 28, 1996 until 2011. He was retained to this position on November 3, 1998 with 71.5% of the vote.[1]

George announced July 15, 2010 that rather than seeking retention in November, he would step down from the court at the end of his term, on January 3, 2011.[2] Tani Cantil-Sakauye was appointed and elected to the Chief Justiceship, to succeed George upon retirement.


George received his A.B. from the Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs in 1961 and his J.D. from Stanford Law School.[3]

Professional career

After graduating from law school, George served as the Deputy Attorney General in California's Deparment of Justice. From 1965-1972, he represented California in cases to both the California Supreme Court and the Supreme Court of the United States. In 1972, he was appointed to the Los Angeles Municipal Court by Governor Ronald Reagan and re-elected in 1976. George was next appointed to the Los Angeles Superior Court by Governor Edward Brown, Jr. in 1977. George served on that court for ten years, winning re-election contests in 1978 and 1984. In 1987, Governor George Deukmejian selected Judge George for a position on the California Courts of Appeal. He was elected by voters in 1990 to serve the remainder of his term.[3]

Awards and recognition

George has garnered several notable awards in his judicial career, including:

  • 2008 Recipient of the Family Law Person of the Year from the Southern California Chapter of the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers
  • 2007 American Bar Association's John Marshall Award
  • 2007 Legal Writing Institute's Golden Pen Award
  • 2002 William H. Rehnquist Award for Judicial Excellence[4][1]

For a complete list of Justice George's honors, please visit: Chief Justice Ronald M. George biography



California Supreme Court

  • Yes - 4,656,520 or 75.49%
  • No - 1,511,953 or 24.51%[5]


California Supreme Court

  • Yes - 3,153,849 or 57.02%
  • No - 2,376,799 or 42.9%[6]


Second District Court of Appeal:

  • Yes - 802,284 or 64.08%
  • No - 449,662 or 35.92%[7]

Notable cases

On gay marriage

On May 15, 2008 the California Supreme Court, backed by George's majority opinion, concluded that "equal respect and dignity" of marriage is a "basic civil right". This ruling overturned California's existing marriage laws.[8] A year later, after California voters decided to amend their constitution, the California Supreme Court affirmed the voters' referendum.[9]

Hillside Strangler

The most notable moment from George's time on the Superior Court bench came in 1981, where he oversaw the People v. Angelo Buono, better known as the "Hillside Strangler Case". George rejected a motion from the prosecution to dismiss the charges, leading to a re-vamped prosecution that eventually convicted Buono on 9 of the 10 murder charges.[10]


"Declaration of war"

According to Bob Egelko, writing in the California Courts Review, George told a 2003 gathering of the California Judges Association that attempts by California judges or political leaders to alter the structure of the Judicial Council of California so that its members are chosen using a more democratic process would be taken by him as "a declaration of war."[11] Under the current system, George appoints nearly all members of the Judicial Council of California; it, in turn, supervises the California Administrative Office of the Courts, a 900-person office with significant influence over the California state court system.

Court closures

In an August 2009 meeting of the Judicial Council, George stated that opposition to the decision to close the California courts for one day per month "has come from persons who in the past have shown little or no interest in our efforts to maintain and increase access to justice."[12] In his comments, George questioned whether the expressed concerns with court closures were "totally genuine or reflect instead perhaps some personal concern about the implications, financial or otherwise, to oneself from closures and from the pressure to engage in voluntary furloughs one day a month."[13]

Allegations of Corruption

In July 2010 Human Rights Alert (NGO) filed complaint against the California Judicial Council and Ronald George for their conduct in the litigation of the habeas corpus of former US prosecutor Richard Fine, who was imprisoned for 18 months under solitary confinement with no valid legal records for the imprisonment.[14]

Ronald George, according to his official biography, served in leadership positions in the Superior Court of California, County of Los Angeles around 1985, at the time that Sustain the case management system of the Court was implemented. The system is alleged as enabling tool for racketeering in the Los Angeles Superior Court. (see further details and references under Superior Court of Los Angeles County, California.

See also

  • SBX2 11 is a California Senate Bill passed in 2009. The bill was signed into law by Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger on February 20, 2009. The bill reinstated certain supplemental benefits for judges and gave them retroactive immunity for accepting compensation from the county of Los Angeles, which the Constitution clearly states shall be set by the legislature. Ronald George is the chairman of the Judicial Council of California, which wrote SBX2 11.[15]

External links