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2024 California Rules of Court

Rule 10.603. Authority and duties of presiding judge

(a) General responsibilities

The presiding judge is responsible, with the assistance of the court executive officer, for leading the court, establishing policies, and allocating resources in a manner that promotes access to justice for all members of the public, provides a forum for the fair and expeditious resolution of disputes, maximizes the use of judicial and other resources, increases efficiency in court operations, and enhances service to the public. The presiding judge is responsible for:

(1)  Ensuring the effective management and administration of the court, consistent with any rules, policies, strategic plan, or budget adopted by the Judicial Council or the court;

(2)  Ensuring that the duties of all judges specified under rule 10.608 are timely and orderly performed; and

(3)  Ensuring that the court has adopted written policies and procedures allowing the presiding judge to perform efficiently the administrative duties of that office.

(Subd (a) amended effective January 1, 2007.)

(b) Authority

(1)  The presiding judge is authorized to:

(A)  Assign judges to departments and designate supervising judges for divisions, districts, or branch courts;

(B)  Apportion the business of the court, including assigning and reassigning cases to departments;

(C)  Call meetings of the judges;

(D)  Appoint standing and special committees of judges;

(E)  Act as the spokesperson for the court;

(F)  Authorize and direct expenditures from the court's Trial Court Operations Fund; and

(G)  Perform all acts necessary to accomplish the duties specified by the rules of court.

(2)  No local rule or policy may limit the authority of the presiding judge as granted in the rules of court.

(Subd (b) amended effective January 1, 2007.)

(c) Duties

(1)  Assignments

The presiding judge has ultimate authority to make judicial assignments. The presiding judge must:

(A)  Designate a judge to preside in each department, including a master calendar judge when appropriate, and designate a presiding judge of the juvenile division and a supervising judge for each division, district, or branch court. In making judicial assignments, the presiding judge must take into account the following:

(i)  The needs of the public and the court, as they relate to the efficient and effective management of the court's calendar;

(ii)  The knowledge and abilities demanded by the assignment;

(iii)  The judge's judicial and nonjudicial experience, including specialized training or education;

(iv)  The judge's interests;

(v)  The need for continuity in the assignment;

(vi)  The desirability of exposing the judge to a particular type of assignment; and

(vii)  Other appropriate factors. Judicial assignments must not be based solely or primarily on seniority;

(B)  Assign to a master calendar judge any of the duties that may more appropriately be performed by that department;

(C)  Supervise the court's calendar, apportion the business of the court among the several departments of the court as equally as possible, and publish for general distribution copies of a current calendar specifying the judicial assignments of the judges and the times and places assigned for hearings;

(D)  Reassign cases between departments as convenience or necessity requires; and

(E)  Designate a judge to act if by law or the rules of court a matter is required to be presented to or heard by a particular judge and that judge is absent, deceased, or unable to act.

(2)  Judicial schedules

(A)  The presiding judge must adopt a process for scheduling judges' vacations and absences from court for attendance at schools, conferences, workshops, and community outreach activities, and must prepare a plan for these vacations and absences from court.

(B)  The plan should take into account the principles contained in standards 10.11 10.13 (on judicial education) and standard 10.5 (on community activities) of the Standards of Judicial Administration.

(C)  The presiding judge must review requests from judges for time absent from court and may approve any request that is consistent with the plan and with the orderly operation of the court.

(D)  The presiding judge must allow each judge to take two days of personal leave per year. Personal leave may be taken at any time that is approved by the presiding judge.

(E)  The presiding judge must allow the following number of days of vacation for each judge annually:

(i)  24 days for judges with less than 7 years of service as a California judge;

(ii)  27 days for judges with at least 7 but less than 14 years of service as a California judge; and

(iii)  30 days for judges with 14 or more years of service as a California judge.

(F)  The presiding judge may authorize a judge to take more time off than is specified in (c)(2)(E) as justified by extraordinary circumstances, if the circumstances are documented and the authorization is in writing.

(G)  The presiding judge, in his or her discretion, may allow a judge to take additional vacation days equal to the number of vacation days that the judge did not use in the previous year, up to a maximum of 30 such days. A court may, by local rule, establish a lower maximum number of such days. This paragraph applies only to vacation days accrued after January 1, 2001. It does not affect any unused vacation days that a judge may have accrued before January 1, 2001, which are governed by local court policy, nor does it create any right to compensation for unused vacation days.

(H)  The court must, by local rule, define a day of vacation. Absence from court to attend an authorized education program, conference, or workshop for judges, or to participate in Judicial Council or other authorized committees or community outreach activities, is not vacation time if attendance is in accordance with the plan and has the prior approval of the presiding judge. Absence from court due to illness is not vacation time. This rule does not limit the time a judge may be absent from court when unable to work because of illness.

(I)  To ensure compliance with the plan, the presiding judge must establish a system to monitor judges' absences from court and maintain records of those absences.

(3)  Submitted cases

The presiding judge must supervise and monitor the number of causes under submission before the judges of the court and ensure that no cause under submission remains undecided and pending for longer than 90 days. As an aid in accomplishing this goal, the presiding judge must:

(A)  Require each judge to report to the presiding judge all causes under submission for more than 30 days and, with respect to each cause, designate whether it has been under submission for 30 through 60 days, 61 through 90 days, or over 90 days;

(B)  Compile a list of all causes under submission before judges of the court, designated as the submitted list, which must include the name of each judge, a list of causes under submission before that judge, and the length of time each cause has been under submission;

(C)  Circulate monthly a complete copy of the submitted list to each judge of the court;

(D)  Contact and alert each judge who has a cause under submission for over 30 days and discuss ways to ensure that the cause is timely decided;

(E)  Consider providing assistance to a judge who has a cause under submission for over 60 days; and

(F)  Consider requesting the services of Judicial Council staff to review the court's calendar management procedures and make recommendations whenever either of the following condition exists in the court for the most recent three months:

(i)  More than 90 civil active cases are pending for each judicial position; or

(ii)  More than 10 percent of the cases on the civil active list have been pending for one year or more.

(4)  Oversight of judicial officers

The presiding judge must:

(A)  Judges

Notify the Commission on Judicial Performance of:

(i)  A judge's substantial failure to perform judicial duties, including any habitual neglect of duty, persistent refusal to carry out assignments as assigned by the presiding judge, or persistent refusal to carry out the directives of the presiding judge as authorized by the rules of court; or

(ii)  Any absences caused by disability totaling more than 90 court days in a 12-month period, excluding absences authorized under (c)(2);

(B)  Notice

Give the judge a copy of the notice to the commission under (A) if appropriate. If a copy is not given to the judge, the presiding judge must inform the commission of the reasons why so notifying the judge was deemed inappropriate;

(C)  Commissioners

(i)  Prepare and submit to the judges for consideration and adoption procedures for receiving, inquiring into, and resolving complaints lodged against subordinate judicial officers, consistent with rule 10.703; and

(ii)  Notify the Commission on Judicial Performance if a subordinate judicial officer is disciplined or resigns, consistent with rule 10.703(j).

(D)  Temporary judges

Be responsible for the recruitment, training, supervision, approval, and performance of temporary judges as provided in rules 2.810-2.819 and rules 10.740-10.746; and

(E)  Assigned judges

For each assigned retired judge:

(i)  Complete a confidential evaluation form;

(ii)  Submit the form annually to the Administrative Director;

(iii)  Direct complaints against the assigned judge to the Chief Justice, by forwarding them to the attention of the Administrative Director, and provide requested information in writing to the Administrative Director in a timely manner; and

(iv)  Assist the Administrative Director in the process of investigating, evaluating, and making recommendations to the Chief Justice regarding complaints against retired judges who serve on assignment.

(5)  Personnel

(A)  The presiding judge must provide general direction to and supervision of the court executive officer, or, if the court has no executive officer, perform the duties of the court executive regarding personnel as specified in rule 10.610(c)(1).

(B)  The presiding judge must approve, in writing, the total compensation package (salary and all benefits) offered to the court executive officer at the time of the executive officer's appointment and any subsequent changes to the executive officer's total compensation package.

(6)  Budget and fiscal management

The presiding judge must:

(A)  Establish a process for consulting with the judges of the court on budget requests, expenditure plans, and other budget or fiscal matters that the presiding judge deems appropriate;

(B)  Establish responsible budget priorities and submit budget requests that will best enable the court to achieve its goals;

(C)  Establish a documented process for setting and approving any changes to the court executive officer's total compensation package in a fiscally responsible manner consistent with the court's established budget; and

(D)  Approve procurements, contracts, expenditures, and the allocation of funds in a manner that promotes the implementation of state and local budget priorities and that ensures equal access to justice and the ability of the court to carry out its functions effectively. In a court with an executive officer, the presiding judge may delegate these duties to the court executive officer, but the presiding judge must ensure that the court executive officer performs such delegated duties consistent with the court's established budget.

(7)  Meetings and committees

The presiding judge must establish a process for consulting with the judges of the court and may call meetings of the judges as needed. The presiding judge may appoint standing and special committees of judges as needed to assist in the proper performance of the duties and functions of the court.

(8)  Liaison

The presiding judge must:

(A)  Provide for liaison between the court and the Judicial Council, Judicial Council staff, and other governmental and civic agencies;

(B)  Meet with or designate a judge or judges to meet with any committee of the bench, bar, news media, or community to review problems and to promote understanding of the administration of justice, when appropriate; and

(C)  Support and encourage the judges to actively engage in community outreach to increase public understanding of and involvement with the justice system and to obtain appropriate community input regarding the administration of justice, consistent with the California Code of Judicial Ethics and standard 10.5 of the Standards of Judicial Administration.

(9)  Planning

The presiding judge must:

(A)  Prepare, with the assistance of appropriate court committees and appropriate input from the community, a long-range strategic plan that is consistent with the plan and policies of the Judicial Council, for adoption in accordance with procedures established by local rules or policies; and

(B)  Ensure that the court regularly and actively examines access issues, including any physical, language, or economic barriers that impede the fair administration of justice.

(10)  Appellate records

The presiding judge is responsible for ensuring the timely preparation of records on appeal.

(A)  The presiding judge ordinarily should delegate the following duties to the executive officer:

(i)  Maintaining records of outstanding transcripts to be completed by each court reporter;

(ii)  Reassigning court reporters as necessary to facilitate prompt completion of transcripts; and

(iii)  Reviewing court reporters' requests for extensions of time to complete transcripts in appeals of criminal cases.

(B)  After reasonable notice and hearing, the presiding judge must declare any reporter of the court who is delinquent in completing a transcript on appeal not competent to act as a reporter in court, under Government Code section 69944.

(11)  Local rules

The presiding judge must prepare, with the assistance of appropriate court committees, proposed local rules to expedite and facilitate court business in accordance with Government Code section 68071 and rules 2.100, 3.20, and 10.613.

(Subd (c) amended effective January 1, 2016; previously amended effective January 1, 2001, January 1, 2002, January 1, 2006, July 1, 2006, January 1, 2007, and July 1, 2010.)

(d) Delegation

The presiding judge may delegate any of the specific duties listed in this rule to another judge. Except for the duties listed in (c)(5)(B) and (c)(6)(C), the presiding judge may delegate to the court executive officer any of the duties listed in this rule that do not require the exercise of judicial authority. The presiding judge remains responsible for all duties listed in this rule even if he or she has delegated particular tasks to someone else.

(Subd (d) amended effective July 1, 2010; previously amended effective January 1, 2007.)

Rule 10.603 amended effective January 1, 2016; adopted as rule 6.603 effective January 1, 2001; previously amended and renumbered effective January 1, 2007; previously amended effective January 1, 2002, January 1, 2006, July 1, 2006, and July 1, 2010.

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