Chief Justice Speech - October 3, 1998

 

State of the Judiciary Address

STATE BAR OF CALIFORNIA
ANNUAL CONVENTION
MONTEREY, CALIFORNIA

SATURDAY, OCTOBER 3, 1998

GOOD MORNING. I FIRST WANT TO CONGRATULATE THE OFFICERS WHOM I HAVE JUST SWORN IN, AND TO THANK MARC ADELMAN AND THE BOARD OF GOVERNORS FOR THEIR EFFORTS ON BEHALF OF THE STATE BAR DURING THIS PAST DIFFICULT YEAR. I KNOW THAT MARC FOUND HIMSELF IN THE CENTER OF AN UNANTICIPATED STORM THAT HAS YET TO DIE DOWN, AND HE HAS HANDLED HIMSELF WITH GRACE AND DIGNITY. RAY MARSHALL AND THE INCOMING BOARD HAVE A DIFFICULT TASK BEFORE THEM, BUT I FEEL CONFIDENT THAT RAY’S LEADERSHIP WILL CONTINUE US ALL ON THE PATH TOWARD RESOLVING THE PROPER STRUCTURE AND ROLE OF THE STATE BAR.

THIS HAS BEEN AN EVENTFUL YEAR IN MANY WAYS. DURING THE PAST YEAR, THE STRUCTURE OF CALIFORNIA’S JUDICIAL BRANCH HAS UNDERGONE FUNDAMENTAL ALTERATIONS. WHEN I STOOD BEFORE THIS ASSEMBLY LAST SEPTEMBER, I ANNOUNCED THAT, ONLY HOURS EARLIER, THE LEGISLATURE HAD ADOPTED A LONG-SOUGHT COMPREHENSIVE STATE FUNDING SYSTEM FOR THE TRIAL COURTS OF CALIFORNIA.

THIS LEGISLATION WAS SIGNED INTO LAW BY THE GOVERNOR IN OCTOBER, AND BECAME EFFECTIVE ON JANUARY 1 OF THIS YEAR. WE ARE IN A TIME OF TRANSITION, LEARNING MORE ABOUT WHAT ADDITIONAL STEPS WE SHOULD TAKE, AND WHAT PITFALLS TO AVOID. IN NEW YORK, THE TRANSITION TO STATE FUNDING HAS BEEN DESCRIBED TO ME VARIOUSLY AS HAVING TAKEN 5 TO 6 YEARS OR 9 TO 10 YEARS. BY EITHER MEASURE, WE ALREADY ARE WELL AHEAD OF OUR SISTER STATE.

EVEN IN THE SHORT TIME THAT STATE FUNDING OF THE TRIAL COURTS HAS BEEN IN PLACE IN CALIFORNIA, WE HAVE SEEN SOME OF THE BENEFITS THAT SHOULD FLOW FROM HAVING A SINGLE SOURCE OF FUNDING FOR THE TRIAL COURTS. OVER THE PAST YEAR, IN CONCERT WITH OUR SISTER BRANCHES, WE HAVE BEGUN MAKING NECESSARY ADJUSTMENTS THAT WILL HELP OUR JUDICIAL SYSTEM MOVE AHEAD EFFECTIVELY.

FOR EXAMPLE, ADEQUATE MONEY FOR COURT INTERPRETERS AND FOR DEPENDENCY COUNSEL HAS LONG BEEN A PERSISTENT PROBLEM. THE LEGISLATURE PROVIDED DEFICIENCY APPROPRIATIONS FOR BOTH PURPOSES EARLIER THIS YEAR TO HELP ADDRESS NEEDS THAT OTHERWISE WOULD HAVE GONE UNMET. IT SIMILARLY FILLED A GAP IN FILING-FEE REVENUES, AND PROVIDED A LOAN TO ELIMINATE CASH-FLOW PROBLEMS CAUSED BY THE LACK OF COORDINATION BETWEEN COUNTY PAYMENT SCHEDULES AND COURT NEEDS. A BILL SIGNED EARLIER THIS WEEK BY THE GOVERNOR WILL PERMANENTLY FIX THE PROBLEM BY REQUIRING COUNTIES TO PAY THE FINAL TWO MONTHS OF THEIR FISCAL OBLIGATION TO THE COURTS IN ADVANCE in order TO AVOID CASH-FLOW PROBLEMS.

EIGHTEEN COUNTIES HAVE BEEN ADDED TO THE EXISTING small TWENTY counties FOR WHICH THE STATE HAS ASSUMED 100% FUNDING RESPONSIBILITy STARTING IN FISCAL YEAR 1999-2000. THESE COUNTIES NOW CAN LOOK AHEAD TO A MORE STABLE FUNDING SOURCE AND A PREDICTABLE SCHEDULE OF PAYMENTS. FOR EVERY PART OF OUR JUDICIAL SYSTEM, THOSE ARE THE FUNDAMENTAL BUILDING BLOCKS THAT WILL ENABLE US TO MEANINGFULLY PLAN FOR THE FUTURE.

THE PICTURE HAS NOT BEEN ENTIRELY ROSY, HOWEVER. DURING THE LAST HOURS OF THE LEGISLATIVE SESSION ENDING EARLY LAST MONTH, THE TRIAL COURT MODERNIZATION FUND FELL VICTIM TO UNRELATED CONFLICTS BETWEEN THE OTHER TWO BRANCHES. THIS FUND WAS PART OF THE ORIGINAL STATE TRIAL COURT FUNDING ACT, AND OUR SISTER BRANCHES PROMISED TO PROVIDE $50 MILLION FOR THE FUND TO AID THE COURTS THIS FISCAL YEAR. THE MONEY WAS TO BE USED FOR CRITICAL COURT NEEDS, SUCH AS ADDRESSING THE "YEAR TWO THOUSAND" PROBLEM IN COURT TECHNOLOGY AND ENHANCED ON-LINE RESEARCH ASSISTANCE FOR JUDGES. I AM OPTIMISTIC THAT WE SHALL OBTAIN RESTORATION OF THESE FUNDS, BECAUSE THEIR MERIT HAS NOT BEEN QUESTIONED — THEY MERELY WERE DERAILED BY EXTRANEOUS POLITICAL CONSIDERATIONS.

THIS YEAR’S BUDGET DOES INCLUDE A $50 MILLION INCREASE FOR COURT OPERATIONS. ALTHOUGH THAT FIGURE IS NOT SUFFICIENT TO MEET ALL the NEEDS of the trial courts, IT AMOUNTS TO A LARGER INCREASE THAN COURTS HAVE SEEN IN MANY YEARS. these additional funds WILL BE DEDICATED primarily TO IMPROVING COURTHOUSE SECURITY, a PRESSING CONCERN FOR MANY COURTS AROUND THE STATE, AND WILL INCREASE BASE FUNDING FOR INTERPRETERS AND DEPENDENCY COUNSEL.

A CHANGE OF THIS MAGNITUDE WILL REQUIRE YEARS OF FINE-TUNING. our task will be to ensure that the system works and that it fulfills our goal of ensuring stable and adequate funding for the courts so that we may better meet the public’s needs and plan effectively for the future.

AS IF THE RESTRUCTURING OF THE FUNDING SYSTEM WERE NOT ENOUGH TO GRAPPLE WITH, THIS PAST YEAR SAW ANOTHER MONUMENTAL shift in the WAY OUR judicial system OPERATES. JUST FOUR MONTHS AGO, THE VOTERS OF CALIFORNIA OVERWHELMINGLY ADOPTED PROPOSITION 220, WHICH PERMITS TRIAL COURTS, ON A COUNTY-BY-COUNTY BASIS, UPON A MAJORITY VOTE OF THE JUDGES OF EACH LEVEL OF COURT, TO UNIFY THEIR OPERATIONS AND BECOME ONE SUPERIOR COURT. this SHIFT may have more direct consequences for many of you. IT HAS FUNDAMENTALLY CHANGED THE STRUCTURE OF MANY COURTS ALREADY, AND JUDGES ACROSS THE STATE HAVE QUICKLY EMBRACED THE OPPORTUNITY AFFORDED THEM BY THE PEOPLE OF CALIFORNIA.

I have been very gratified and pleased that courts in 49 of OUR 58 counties took the necessary action to unify within three months of the enactment of Proposition 220. unification offers many courts the opportunity to make more effective use of all available resources — and should help simplify some court procedures. MOREOVER, having one clerk’s office AND ONE JURY POOL — NOT TO MENTION MORE AVAILABLE JUDICIAL OFFICERS TO HANDLE MATTERS — WILL BENEFIT practitioners and litigants, AND SAVE TAXPAYER DOLLARS.

THESE TWO HISTORIC STRUCTURAL REORGANIZATIONS MAY SEEM TO BE ENOUGH TO KEEP US OCCUPIED — BUT THEY ARE ONLY PART OF THE JUDICIAL SYSTEM’S CURRENT FOCUS. Jury reform, FOR EXAMPLE, remains high on my list of major goals for our court system.

jury service provides, for many individuals, theIR sole direct exposure to the court system. as I told you last year, in my visits to the tRial courts in the 58 counties I FREQUENTLY encountered woefully inadequate jury facilities. ADD poor facilities together with grossly inadequate compensation — THE MEAGER SUM OF $5 A DAY, the lowest in the nation, THE lack of information PROVIDED to prospective jurors, lengthy waiting periods — OFTEN for no apparent reason, and you have a recipe for frustration and indignation.

JURY SERVICE IS OFTEN DESCRIBED AS ONE OF THE GREAT RIGHTS — AND ONE OF THE FUNDAMENTAL OBLIGATIONS — OF OUR CITIZENS. OVER THE YEARS, EXCLUDED GROUPS AND CLASSES — WOMEN, RACIAL MINORITIES, DISABLED INDIVIDUALS — HAVE ARDENTLY SOUGHT INCLUSION IN THE JURY POOL. WE OWE THEM — AND EVERY CITIZEN — A SYSTEM THAT HONORS AND RECOGNIZES THEIR FULFILLMENT OF THIS IMPORTANT DUTY AND PROVIDES LITIGANTS WITH A REPRESENTATIVE CROSS SECTION OF THE COMMUNITY.

this year, the budget included funding that would have begun to address some of the JUROR compensation issues, but the money was blue-PENCILED by the governor. WE WILL TRY AGAIN NEXT YEAR — AND CONTINUE TO DO SO UNTIL WE SEE SUCCESS.

a bill implementing a one day/one trial jury requirement met with a happier fate. unless A COURT can establish the need for an exemption, ALL courts IN THE STATE are required to adopt a plan under which jurors need appear at the courthouse for one day. at the end of the day, they will be discharged UNLESS THEY HAVE BEEN SUMMONED TO A TRIAL COURT, IN WHICH EVENT THEY ARE to serve for the DURATION of THE trial. IN EITHER EVENT, THEIR OBLIGATION IS SATISFIED FOR A YEAR. thIS clearly is superior to THE system in MOST counties THAT requires jurors to appear day after day for up to 10 days, or even if not required to appear physically, mandates that AN individual stay on call for a week or two.

ADDITIONALLY, I HAVE APPOINTED A TASK FORCE TO TRANSLATE CRIMINAL AND CIVIL JURY INSTRUCTIONS INTO MORE UNDERSTANDABLE LAYMAN’S LANGUAGE WHILE STILL REMAINING FAITHFUL TO THE REQUIREMENTS OF THE LAW.

these measures all SHOULD have a beneficial effect on the public and ITS perception of the courts. beyond these steps, we also HAVE been working actively to reach out to the public in more direct ways.

AS THE CONFERENCE OF CHIEF JUSTICES RECENTLY RECOGNIZED, THE LACK OF PUBLIC CONFIDENCE IN THE JUDICIAL SYSTEM IS A PRIMARY PROBLEM FOR OUR COURTS. ALL TOO often, THE JUDICIAL SYSTEM SEEMS TO BE neither well understood nor perceived in a positive light. thIS NEGATIVE PERCEPTION, I believe, in large part flows from the LACK OF INFORMATION AND UNDERSTANDING. IN A SPEECH TO THE JUDICIAL COUNCIL IN 1993, JOHN GARDNER OBSERVED THAT "THE UNWRITTEN NORMS AND VALUES THAT HOLD A COMMUNITY TOGETHER MUST BE TAUGHT AND RETAUGHT." too often, the public does not understand the vital role of an independent judicial system in protecting their rights. in fact, too often, the public IS fundamentally unaware of the judicial branch’s role.

this problem was well ILLUSTRATED BY A RECENT POLL OF AMERICAN TEENAGERS. ONLY 41% COULD NAME THE THREE BRANCHES OF GOVERNMENT — BUT 59% COULD NAME THE THREE STOOGES. ALMOST 95% OF THE TEENAGERS POLLED COULD NAME THE ACTOR WHO PLAYS THE FRESH PRINCE OF BEL AIR ON TELEVISION — WILL SMITH — WHOM, I MUST ADMIT, I COULD NOT HAVE IDENTIFIED BEFORE READING THE POLL. ON THE OTHER HAND, A MERE 2% COULD NAME THE CHIEF JUSTICE OF THE UNITED STATES. at this point, If THESE poll respondents were asked who Ronald George is, I WONDER NOT ONLY WHETHER ANY OF THEM WOULD HAVE ANY IDEA AT ALL — BUT I worry that THOSE WHO DID ANSWER would identify me as a hurricane.

one of the greatest challenges for all of us involvED in the law is enhancing public knowledge and understanding about what we do — and why what we do iS important to SOCIETY. HAND-IN-HAND WITH THAT TASK IS LISTENING TO THE PUBLIC AND RESPONDING TO APPROPRIATE NEEDS AND CONCERNS. I HAVE ATTEMPTED TO DO SO BY MY OWN COMMUNITY OUTREACH EFFORTS, BY ESTABLISHING COURT-COMMUNITY PROGRAMS, AND BY WORKING WITH THE JUDICIAL COUNCIL TO ENCOURAGE A WIDE VARIETY OF MEASURES TO MAKE OUR COURT SYSTEM MORE ACCESSIBLE AND USER FRIENDLY.

THE COUNCIL, WITH THE ASSISTANCE OF THE ADMINISTRATIVE OFFICE OF THE COURTS, ABLY LED BY BILL VICKREY, CONTINUES TO PRESS ON MANY FRONTS TO IMPROVE THE ADMINISTRATION OF JUSTICE AND TO SET STATEWIDE POLICIES THAT WILL BENEFIT ALL THOSE WHO COME TO THE COURTS FOR ASSISTANCE.

LET ME TURN NOW FOR A FEW MINUTES TO THE BAR AND ITS PRESENT PLIGHT, AND TO WHAT YOU AND OTHER ATTORNEYS MAY BE ABLE TO DO TO ASSIST IN RESOLVING THE CURRENT DIFFICULTIES. LAST NIGHT WE HONORED THE PRO BONO CONTRIBUTIONS OF SOME REMARKABLE ATTORNEYS. MANY OF YOU ARE ACCUSTOMED TO PROVIDING PRO BONO SERVICES TO THE COMMUNITY THROUGH DIFFERENT AVENUES, AND I SALUTE YOU AND YOUR WORK. THIS RELATES TO WHAT I WANT TO SAY TODAY ABOUT SOME OF THE UNFORTUNATE CONSEQUENCES THAT HAVE FLOWED FROM THE BAR’S CIRCUMSTANCES DURING THE LAST YEAR — AND SOME OF THE STEPS THAT ATTORNEYS CAN TAKE RIGHT NOW TO AMELIORATE THOSE CONSEQUENCES.

AS YOU CAN UNDERSTAND, I CANNOT AND WILL NOT COMMENT ON ANY REQUEST FOR ACTION BY THE SUPREME COURT SUBMITTED BY THE BAR, THE GOVERNOR, OR ANY OTHER ENTITY OR INDIVIDUAL. WHATEVER ACTION THE COURT TAKES WILL OCCUR THROUGH THE COURT’S REGULAR DECISION-MAKING PROCESS.

WHATEVER SCENARIO MAY UNFOLD, IT IS CLEAR THAT THERE ARE IMMEDIATE NEEDS THAT REMAIN TO BE MET — AND THERE IS AMPLE LEGAL TALENT IN THIS STATE TO HELP. FIRST AND FOREMOST, THE CRISIS IN BAR DISCIPLINE HAS HAD A DETRIMENTAL IMPACT ON THE PROTECTION OF THE PUBLIC. THE LEGAL PROFESSION IS PEOPLED BY AND LARGE BY INDIVIDUALS OF THE HIGHEST INTEGRITY AND ETHICS. NEVERTHELESS, AS IN ANY GROUP OF THIS SIZE, THERE ARE SOME WHO DO NOT MEET THIS DESCRIPTION — AND IT IS INCUMBENT ON THE LEGAL SYSTEM TO ENSURE THAT CLIENTS ARE PROTECTED FROM THOSE WHO MIGHT ABUSE THEIR TRUST.

A SECOND CRITICAL CONSEQUENCE OF THE CURRENT IMPASSE IS THE IMPACT ON THE PUBLIC’S PERCEPTION OF THE LEGAL PROFESSION. THE REPUTATION OF EVERY LAWYER WHO PROVIDES GOOD SERVICE FOR HIS OR HER CLIENTS IS CAST UNDER A POTENTIAL SHADOW BY THE BAD APPLES IN THE BUNCH WHO ARE LEFT UNREGULATED FOR LONGER AND LONGER PERIODS OF TIME.

ANOTHER EFFECT IS THE UNDERMINING OF THE IDEA OF THE LAW AS A PROFESSION. MORE AND MORE VOICES HAVE BEEN HEARD SUGGESTING THAT LAWYERS SHOULD BE REGULATED BY THE CONSUMER PROTECTION AGENCY, OR ITS LIKE.

AND FINALLY, MANY FINE EMPLOYEES WHO HAD DEDICATED THEIR LIVES AND CAREERS TO THE BAR, AND TO ITS MISSION TO PROVIDE SERVICE AND PROTECTION TO THE PUBLIC, LOST THEIR JOBS AND MOVED ON — TAKING WITH THEM A WEALTH OF ACCUMULATED KNOWLEDGE AND EXPERTISE THAT WILL TAKE TIME TO REBUILD.

THE CHALLENGES ARE CLEAR — NO MATTER WHAT THE ULTIMATE RESULT FOR THE DISCIPLINE SYSTEM. A BACKLOG OF COMPLAINTS IS INCREASING DAILY. THAT BACKLOG WILL BE THERE — NO MATTER WHEN THE DISCIPLINE SYSTEM BEGINS TO OPERATE AGAIN AT FULLER CAPACITY, AND NO MATTER WHAT FORM OR GOVERNANCE ENSUES FOR THAT SYSTEM.

IN THE INTERIM, THERE ARE A NUMBER OF STEPS THAT LOCAL BAR ASSOCIATIONS AND INDIVIDUAL LAWYERS CAN TAKE TO HELP PROTECT THE PUBLIC AND EASE THE POTENTIAL DIFFICULTIES DOWN THE ROAD. THESE MEASURES HAVE POTENTIAL APPEAL BECAUSE THEY ALSO BRING THE STATE BAR AND THE DISCIPLINE SYSTEM HOME TO THE LOCAL LEGAL COMMUNITY — AND AS I HAVE DISCUSSED, COMMUNITY OUTREACH AND RESPONSIVENESS ON MULTIPLE LEVELS IS A KEYSTONE OF BETTER PUBLIC SERVICE. SUCH ACTIVITIES ALSO CAN HELP ENHANCE THE PERCEPTION OF THE LEGAL PROFESSION IN THE COMMUNITY, AS WELL AS GENERAL RESPECT FOR THE ADMINISTRATION OF JUSTICE. AS UNITED STATES SUPREME COURT JUSTICE GEORGE SUTHERLAND ONCE SAID, "THE SADDEST EPITAPH WHICH CAN BE CARVED IN MEMORY OF A VANISHED LIBERTY IS THAT IT WAS LOST BECAUSE ITS POSSESSORS FAILED TO STRETCH FORTH A SAVING HAND WHILE YET THERE WAS TIME."

LET ME OFFER A FEW EXAMPLES FOR YOU TO CONSIDER AND BRING HOME TO YOUR LOCAL LEGAL COMMUNITIES. THE STATE BAR PROGRAM ON FEE ARBITRATION WAS THE LARGEST IN THE STATE. TWENTY LOCAL BARS HAVE NO ARBITRATION PROGRAM — THE REST DO. PERHAPS BAR ASSOCIATIONS WITH EXISTING PROGRAMS CAN REACH OUT TO NEIGHBORING COUNTIES WITHOUT SUCH ASSISTANCE TO PROVIDE COOPERATIVE SERVICES. PROGRAMS THAT SPAN COUNTY LINES CAN OFFSET THE PROBLEM OF SMALL BAR ASSOCIATIONS THAT HAVE LIMITED RESOURCES. A COUNTY WITH A SUCCESSFUL ONGOING PROGRAM COULD ASSIST A SMALLER COMMUNITY.

FEE DISPUTES ARE A MAJOR BREEDING GROUND FOR DISCIPLINARY COMPLAINTS AND ACTIONS. LOCAL RESPONSE CAN AFFECT PUBLIC PERCEPTION AND SOLVE CONCRETE PROBLEMS BEFORE THEY BECOME ACUTE.

ANOTHER DIFFICULT PROBLEM IS THE HANDLING OF PRACTICES LEFT IN LIMBO DUE TO THE DEATH, INCAPACITY, OR DISBARMENT OF LAWYERS. THERE IS A VARIETY OF WAYS TO APPROACH THIS PROBLEM LOCALLY — A SITUATION THAT CAN HAVE A TREMENDOUS IMPACT ON INDIVIDUAL CLIENTS IN YOUR COMMUNITIES.

THE COMPLAINT BACKLOG ITSELF CAN BE ATTACKED WITH LOCAL ASSISTANCE — PRO BONO VOLUNTEERS, AS IN THE DISCIPLINARY PROCESS THAT EXISTED MANY YEARS AGO, MIGHT SERVE TO SCREEN COMPLAINTS AND DO ROUGH CUTS TO CULL MATTERS DESERVING PRIORITY TREATMENT.

IN INSTANCES IN WHICH DISCIPLINE ALREADY HAS BEEN IMPOSED, VOLUNTARY ATTORNEYS ARE NEEDED AS PROBATION MONITORS FOR THE 1000 ATTORNEYS ON PROBATION. THE REPORTS OF THESE PROBATIONERS NEED TO BE CHECKED FOR COMPLIANCE TO AVOID ADDITIONAL PROBLEMS.

LOCAL BAR ASSOCIATIONS CAN ESTABLISH ATTORNEY/CLIENT GRIEVANCE COMMITTEES TO PROVIDE TRIAGE ON MATTERS THAT CAN BE RESOLVED LOCALLY WITHOUT BEING ELEVATED TO THE STATE DISCIPLINARY SYSTEM. THE PREVIOUSLY EXISTING COMMITTEES THAT WITHERED AWAY ONCE THE BAR SET UP A COMPREHENSIVE "800" TELEPHONE NUMBER CAN PERHAPS BE REVITALIZED.

SIMILARLY, LOCAL AND REGIONAL ETHICS HOTLINES COULD GO FAR TO HANDLE THE QUESTIONS POSED IN THE 21,000 CALLS HANDLED ANNUALLY BY THE NO-LONGER-FUNCTIONING BAR ETHICS HOT LINE.

THESE ARE SUGGESTIONS — NOTHING MORE. BUT THEY ILLUSTRATE THAT ATTORNEYS, ACTING INDIVIDUALLY AND THROUGH THEIR LOCAL BAR ASSOCIATIONS, AND IN COORDINATION WITH THE EXISTING STATE BAR, CAN HAVE A PROFOUND IMPACT IN PROTECTING THE PUBLIC AND SERVING THE LEGAL PROFESSION. WHETHER THESE ACTIVITIES ARE FOR THE SHORT HAUL OR BECOME PERMANENT IN THE EVENT THE DISCIPLINE SYSTEM IS RESTRUCTURED OR IS UNABLE TO HANDLE THEM — THEY PROVIDE A WAY FOR LAWYERS TO CONTINUE THE LONG-STANDING TRADITION OF THE LEGAL PROFESSION OF PROVIDING SERVICE FOR THE COMMUNITY AND ANSWERING THE NEEDS OF THE PUBLIC.

THE PRESENT CRISIS THUS CAN SERVE AS A CATALYST TO IMPROVING INTERACTION WITH YOUR COMMUNITY, CREATING BETTER TIES BETWEEN ATTORNEYS AND LOCAL BAR ASSOCIATIONS AND THE STATE BAR, FORGING NEW APPROACHES TO HANDLING POTENTIAL DISCIPLINARY ISSUES, AND INCREASING AWARENESS — IN THE LEGAL PROFESSION — OF THE KINDS OF ETHICAL ISSUES AND QUESTIONS THAT AFFECT LAWYERS ON A DAILY BASIS.

THIS HAS BEEN A YEAR OF MANY CHANGES AND MANY CHALLENGES. MY PREVIOUS VISITS TO THE COURTS OF THE 58 COUNTIES OF CALIFORNIA, AND MY CONTINUING VISITS TO COURTS, BAR ASSOCIATIONS, AND COMMUNITY GROUPS AND OTHER ORGANIZATIONS, CONSTANTLY REINFORCE FOR ME HOW FORTUNATE WE IN CALIFORNIA ARE IN THE QUALITY OF OUR LEGAL SYSTEM. EVERY DAY, INDIVIDUALS IN THE BAR, ON THE BENCH, AND ON THE STAFFS OF COURTS AND LAW FIRMS, WORK HARD TO SERVE THE NEEDS AND INTERESTS OF THE PUBLIC.

THERE IS MUCH TO DO IN THE YEARS THAT LIE AHEAD. EVERY PART OF OUR JUDICIAL SYSTEM IS IN FLUX. WE HAVE THE OPPORTUNITY TO SHAPE THE FUTURE OF OUR SYSTEM. THE TASK FOR EACH OF US IS TO EMBRACE THAT OPPORTUNITY AND TO USE OUR TALENTS AND EXPERTISE TO MAKE A POSITIVE DIFFERENCE. THE ROAD AHEAD WILL HAVE ITS SHARE OF PITFALLS AND DISAPPOINTMENTS — BUT I AM CONFIDENT THAT IT WILL LEAD TO GREAT ACHIEVEMENTS, SATISFACTION, AND SERVICE. I LOOK FORWARD TO TRAVELING IT WITH YOU, AS WE CONTINUE TO WORK TO IMPROVE THE ADMINISTRATION OF JUSTICE FOR ALL THE PEOPLE OF OUR STATE.

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