SAN FRANCISCO—Judge Steven Jahr will become the state’s next Administrative Director of the Courts—and the first with judicial experience—after a unanimous vote today by the Judicial Council of California.
Judge Jahr, who was a judge in Shasta County for 22 years before his retirement in 2009, was selected by the Judicial Council in a closed session. He becomes the state’s fifth Administrative Director since the office was created in 1960.
The appointment comes after a six-month nationwide search by a Judicial Council committee to replace former Administrative Director William C. Vickrey, who retired last year. Judge Jahr will assume his post on October 8. In the meantime, Interim Administrative Director of the Courts Jody Patel will continue in her current role to assist in Judge Jahr’s transition.
“As chair of the Judicial Council, I am enormously pleased that Judge Jahr has agreed to accept this critical position,” said Chief Justice Tani G. Cantil-Sakauye. “The depth of his experience in the judicial branch—as a trial court judge, as a presiding judge, and as a participant in statewide judicial branch initiatives—makes him an ideal choice.”
In addition to his tenure on the Shasta County Superior Court bench—and earlier service on the Municipal Court in Redding--Judge Jahr also served as the court’s presiding judge for four years.
“I look forward to working with the Chief Justice, the Judicial Council, judges, court executives, and employees of the courts and the Administrative Office of the Courts (AOC),” Judge Jahr said. “I think I bring a unique perspective to my new role. As a judge, I’ve worked in criminal and civil matters, as well as family law. I understand the world of the courtroom. As a former presiding judge, I know and appreciate that taking care of the administrative side of a courtroom helps make a judge succeed. During my retirement, I have observed and admired how our Chief Justice and the Judicial Council have grappled with the new challenges the branch faces. I have been in public service during much of my career, and I look forward to continue serving the public in my new role.”
Judge Jahr was enthusiastically endorsed by the Judicial Council’s search committee, chaired by Court of Appeal Justice Harry Hull. “After reviewing candidates from all over the country, we eventually found the very best candidate in our own backyard,” said Justice Hull. “Judge Jahr is well known and well liked by many judges throughout the state. I’m happy that my colleagues on the Judicial Council felt the same way our committee members did.”
During his judicial service, Judge Jahr developed and oversaw the consolidation of the superior and municipal courts in his county, which included the reconfiguration of all criminal case processing in the court with the adoption of a direct calendar system. Later, he was assigned to operate a felony direct calendar for several years, which included sole responsibility for the drug court in the county. During this same period, Judge Jahr initiated the Prop. 36 (Substance Abuse and Crime Prevention Act) court calendar and successfully operated it for its first four years of existence.
On a statewide level, in addition to years of faculty service for the state’s judicial education programs, Judge Jahr served as a board member and vice president of the California Judges Association. Immediately before his retirement, he was appointed by Chief Justice Ronald M. George to the Commission for Impartial Courts.
In the mid-1990s during the period of transition from county to state trial court operations funding, he chaired the Task Force on Trial Court Funding and the Trial Court Budget Commission.
In 1997, Judge Jahr was named Jurist of the Year by the Judicial Council. The next year, he was appointed as a member of the Judicial Council, where he also served as chair of the council’s Rules and Projects Committee.
Since his 2009 retirement, Judge Jahr has continued to serve as a volunteer to his former court concerning its courthouse construction project. He also has served on working groups overseen by the Judicial Council, including the Emergency Response and Security Task Force.