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State Bar’s Commission on Judicial Nominees Evaluation Tasked with Evaluating Governor’s California Supreme Court Nominee Justice Patricia Guerrero

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March 17, 2022

When the Commission on Judicial Appointments meets on March 22 to consider the appointment of Justice Patricia Guerrero to the California Supreme Court, they will rely on the quiet and thorough work behind the scenes of an important body supported by the State Bar: the Commission on Judicial Nominees Evaluation (JNE). The JNE Commission confidentially evaluates all candidates under consideration or nominated for a judicial appointment by the Governor. In 2021, the JNE Commission completed evaluations of 138 judicial candidates.

JNE will give its report on the California Supreme Court nomination to the Commission on Judicial Appointments (COJA), the esteemed panel considering Justice Guerrero’s nomination, which consists of Chief Justice Tani Cantil-Sakauye, Attorney General Rob Bonta, and Senior Presiding Justice of the State Court of Appeal Manuel A. Ramirez. During the COJA meeting, a public summary of that evaluation will be presented.

The State Bar’s JNE Commission is currently seeking new members to volunteer to perform invaluable public service and investigative work. 

“Since 1979, the JNE Commission has contributed to the high quality and integrity of California’s judges and justices by providing fair, independent, and thorough investigations at the request of the Governor,” said JNE Commission Chair Stella J. Ngai. “This is hard but necessary work. It is also, without question, the epitome of public service in our state’s democracy, and anyone fortunate enough to do it will tell you it was their great honor. We look forward to welcoming new members to this auspicious body.” 

The JNE Commission represents a broad-cross section of California’s diverse legal profession and general population. It consists of both California attorneys and public members, with a minimum of 27 members, and not more than 38. There are currently 13 positions open for three-year appointments. The deadline to apply is April 1, 2022.

Appointed by the State Bar’s Board of Trustees, the volunteer JNE Commission cannot nominate or appoint judges; it does, however, thoroughly investigate California’s judicial candidates while maintaining a code of strict confidentiality. 

By state law, the governor submits the names of all judicial candidates to the JNE Commission for review. JNE has 90 days, operating independently of the State Bar’s Board of Trustees, to complete its evaluation. Typically, two members of the commission perform each evaluation.

The JNE Commission reviews information in the candidate’s “Judicial Appointment Application,” and seeks input from hundreds of raters through written and oral means, all of which are held in confidence. Time commitment includes required attendance at a minimum of six two-day (Friday/Saturday) meetings every other month.

The JNE Commission, in parallel with Governor Newsom and the Judicial Council of California, recently released its annual diversity report. The JNE 2021 Statewide Demographics Report includes demographics of the 138 judicial candidates reviewed by JNE in 2021, relative to ethnicity, race, disability, veteran status, gender, gender identity, sexual orientation, and areas of legal practice and employment.

The JNE Commission is just one of several State Bar committees and subentities currently seeking applications for new members. Other committees seeking attorneys and members of the public to serve include:

  •     California Board of Legal Specialization  
  •     Client Security Fund Commission  
  •     Committee of State Bar Accredited and Registered Schools  
  •     Committee on Professional Responsibility and Conduct  
  •     Legal Services Trust Fund Commission  
  •     Review Committee of the Commission on Judicial Nominees

Nonattorney members of the public who are appointed to these bodies may receive a small stipend for their work. Learn more.

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