Rule 10.777. Qualifications of court investigators, probate attorneys, and probate examiners
(a) Qualifications of court investigators
Except as otherwise provided in this rule, a person who begins employment with a court or enters into a contract to perform services with a court as a court investigator on or after January 1, 2008, must:
(1)Have a bachelor of arts or bachelor of science degree in a science, a social science, a behavioral science, liberal arts, or nursing from an accredited educational institution; and
(2)Have a minimum of two years' employment experience performing casework or investigations in a legal, financial, law enforcement, or social services setting.
(b) Qualifications of probate attorneys
Except as otherwise provided in this rule, a person who begins employment with a court as a probate attorney on or after January 1, 2008, must:
(1)Be an active member of the State Bar of California for:
(A)A minimum of five years; or
(B)A minimum of two years, plus a minimum of five years' current or former active membership in the equivalent organization of another state or eligibility to practice in the highest court of another state or in a court of the United States; and
(2)Have a minimum of two years' total experience, before or after admission as an active member of the State Bar of California, in one or more of the following positions:
(A)Court-employed staff attorney;
(B)Intern, court probate department (minimum six-month period);
(C)Court-employed probate examiner or court-employed or court-contracted court investigator;
(D)Attorney in a probate-related public or private legal practice;
(E)Deputy public guardian or conservator;
(F)Child protective services or adult protective services worker or juvenile probation officer; or
(G)Private professional fiduciary appointed by a court or employee of a private professional fiduciary or bank or trust company appointed by a court, with significant fiduciary responsibilities, including responsibility for court accountings.
(c) Qualifications of probate examiners
Except as otherwise provided in this rule, a person who begins employment with a court as a probate examiner on or after January 1, 2008, must have:
(1)A bachelor of arts or bachelor of science degree from an accredited educational institution and a minimum of two years' employment experience with one or more of the following employers:
(B)A public or private law office; or
(C)A public administrator, public guardian, public conservator,
or private professional fiduciary; or
(2)A paralegal certificate or an Associate of Arts degree from an accredited educational institution and a minimum of a total of four years' employment experience with one or more of the employers listed in (1); or
(3)A juris doctor degree from an educational institution approved by the American Bar Association or accredited by the Committee of Bar Examiners of the State Bar of California and a minimum of six months' employment experience with an employer listed in (1).
(d) Additional court-imposed qualifications and requirements
The qualifications in (a), (b), and (c) are minimums. A court may establish higher qualification standards for any position covered by this rule and may require applicants to comply with its customary hiring or personal-service contracting practices, including written applications, personal references, personal interviews, or entrance examinations.
(e) Exemption for smaller courts
The qualifications required under this rule may be waived by a court with eight or fewer authorized judges if it cannot find suitable qualified candidates for the positions covered by this rule or for other grounds of hardship. A court electing to waive a qualification under this subdivision must make express written findings showing the circumstances supporting the waiver and disclosing all alternatives considered, including those not selected.
(f) Record keeping and reporting
The Judicial Council may require courts to report on the qualifications of the court investigators, probate attorneys, or probate examiners hired or under contract under this rule, and on waivers made under (e), as necessary to ensure compliance with Probate Code section 1456.
(Subd (f) amended effective January 1, 2016.)
Rule 10.777 amended effective January 1, 2016; adopted effective January 1, 2008.