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2024 California Rules of Court

Rule 9.90. Nominations and appointments of State Bar trustees

(a) State Bar Trustees Nominating Committee

(1)  The Supreme Court appoints five attorneys to the State Bar Board of Trustees, each for a four-year term. The court may reappoint an attorney for one additional term. The court may also fill any vacancy in the term of, and make any reappointment of, any appointed attorney member. Each appointee must be an active licensee of the State Bar and have his or her principal office in California.

(2)  In order to ensure that individuals appointed by the Supreme Court to the State Bar Board of Trustees have been evaluated objectively, the court has established an independent "State Bar Trustees Nominating Committee" (committee) to receive applications and screen and evaluate prospective appointees. The role of the committee is to determine whether applicants possess not only the statutorily enumerated qualifications, but also any other qualifications that may be required to carry out the duties of the Board of Trustees.

(3)  The committee serves at the pleasure of the court. The committee will consist of seven members appointed by the court of whom five must be active licensees of the State Bar in good standing, and two must be active or retired judicial officers. A committee chair and vice-chair are designated by the court. The court will seek to create a broadly representative body to assist it in its considerations.

Except as provided below, all full terms are for three years. Members may not serve more than two consecutive full terms. Members will continue to serve until a successor is appointed. Appointments to fill a vacancy will be for the balance of the term vacated. Members who are appointed to fill a vacancy for the balance of a term are eligible to serve two full terms in addition to the remainder of the term for which they were appointed.

To create staggered terms among the members of the committee, the Supreme Court will appoint initial members of the committee as follows:

(A)  Four members each to serve a term of three years. The court may reappoint these members to one full term.

(B)  Three members each to serve a term of two years. The court may reappoint these members to one full term.

(4)  The committee must adopt, and implement upon approval by the Supreme Court, procedures for:

(A)  Receipt of applications and initial screening of applicants for appointments to fill the vacant positions, including adoption of a comprehensive application form;

(B)  Receipt of evaluations concerning selected applicants;

(C)  Identification and collection of actual and potential conflicts of interest for those applicants selected for interviews by the committee. These procedures, at a minimum, must require these applicants to confidentially disclose any financial and nonfinancial interests that might affect or might be affected by service by the applicant as a Trustee and a list of attorneys whom each applicant would identify as creating a conflict in any future service by the applicant as a Trustee;

(D)  Evaluation and rating of applicants; and

(E)  Transmittal of the materials specified in (b) of this rule to the Supreme Court.

The procedures adopted by the committee must include provisions to ensure the confidentiality of its evaluations.

(5)  In recommending candidates, in order to provide for the appointment of trustees who bring to the board a variety of experiences, the committee should consider:

(A)  Legal services attorneys, solo practitioners, attorneys with small firms, and attorneys with governmental entities;

(B)  Historically underrepresented groups, such as those underrepresented because of race, ethnicity, gender, and sexual orientation;

(C)  Legal academics;

(D)  Geographic distribution;

(E)  Years of practice;

(F)  Attorneys who are in their first five years of practice;

(G)  Participation in voluntary local or state bar activities;

(H)  Participation in activities to benefit the public; and

(I)  Other factors demonstrating a background that will help inform the work of the board.

(6)  The State Bar must provide the support the committee requires to discharge its obligations under this rule.

(Subd (a) amended effective December 1, 2023; previously amended effective January 1, 2019.)

(b) Evaluations

(1)  The committee must evaluate the qualifications of and rate all applicants and must submit to the court the nominations of at least three qualified candidates for each vacancy. Candidates are to be rated as "not recommended," "recommended," and "highly recommended." A rating of "not recommended" relates only to the position under consideration and does not indicate any lack of ability or expertise of the applicant generally. The committee must report in confidence to the Supreme Court its evaluation, rating, and recommendation for applicants for appointment and the reasons therefore, including a succinct summary of their qualifications, at a time to be designated by the Supreme Court. The report must include written comments regarding the nominees received by the committee, which must be transmitted to the Supreme Court together with the nominations.

(2)  In determining the qualifications of an applicant for appointment or reappointment the committee should, in addition to the factors cited in (a)(5), consider the following: focus on the public interest, public service, commitment to the administration of justice, objectivity, community respect, integrity, ability to work collaboratively, and balanced temperament.

(3)  The committee must use the information obtained under the procedures developed pursuant to (a)(4)(C) of this rule to evaluate the actual or potential conflicts of interest of applicants selected for interviews. The committee shall consider whether the applicant's actual or potential conflicts of interest should disqualify the applicant or reduce the applicant's rating under (a)(4)(D) of this rule. In making this determination, the committee shall consider whether the applicant has financial or nonfinancial interests or relationships with other attorneys that may impact the applicant's ability to perform the duties of a Trustee with disinterested skill and undivided loyalty to the State Bar as described in Business and Professions Code section 6036, subdivision (b), or may impact the Board of Trustee's appearance to the public as a body that conducts its work with disinterested skill and undivided loyalty. The committee shall include its determination on this issue in the report to the Supreme Court required under (b)(1) of this rule.

(Subd (b) amended effective December 1, 2023.)

Rule 9.90 amended effective December 1, 2023; adopted effective January 23, 2013; previously amended effective January 1, 2019.

Rule 9.90 amended effective December 1, 2023; adopted effective January 23, 2013; previously amended effective January 1, 2019.

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