California Supreme Court By The Numbers:


Former prosecutor

Both a former prosecutor & civil rights lawyer

Both a former public defender & civil rights lawyer

  • 7 total seats
  • 0 current vacancies
  • 3 prosecutors
  • 1 public defender
  • 1 Justice is both a former prosecutor & civil rights lawyer
  • 2 Justices are both a former public defender & civil rights lawyer
  • 0 Justices have other indigent defense experience
  • 2 civil rights lawyers

How Members of the California Supreme Court are Selected:

Appointment, Retention Election

The state bar’s Commission on Judicial Nominee Evaluation, made up of attorneys and public members appointed by the state bar’s Board of Trustees, screens judicial candidates and rates their qualifications for the governor. The governor appoints a nominee of their choosing, often informed by the Commission’s investigation and rating. The three-person Commission on Judicial Appointments – made up of the California Attorney General, Chief Justice, and most senior presiding justice on the Courts of Appeal – must approve the nomination. In order to remain on the court, appointed judges must garner a majority of the vote in a yes-no retention election coinciding with the first gubernatorial race after their appointment. After the first election, subsequent retention elections are for full 12-year terms.

Selection method sources:

Ballotpedia, Judicial Election Methods By State; Brennan Center for Justice, Judicial Selection: An Interactive Map; State Bar of California, Judicial Nominees Evaluation Commission; California Courts, Commission on Judicial Appointments