The article by Ramona Ripston and Katherine Spiller (Editorial Pages, April 10) criticizes the present method of confirming California Supreme Court nominees.
They appear to misunderstand the existing process.
Before the governor makes his nomination, he must send potential nominees' names to the State Bar of California (the organization to which all attorneys belong) for a detailed review consisting of a survey of hundreds of lawyers, a background investigation, and interviews with the candidates themselves. The State Bar then reports back to the governor whether the nominee is unqualified or qualified. The governor, who ostensibly has conducted his own review, then makes his nomination from that list and submits it to the Commission on Judicial Appointments, of which I am a member, along with the Chief Justice and the Senior Presiding Justice of the Courts of Appeal. A public hearing is scheduled about 30 days later to allow testimony from supporters and critics.
In preparation for the hearing, under my direction, a thorough investigation is made of the nominee's qualifications, including interviews with those who know him or her best. Personal material relevant to the investigation focuses on integrity, competence and impartiality.
Sometimes, our investigation reveals problems and raises concern. In the case of a Superior Court judge nominated for the Court of Appeal, our investigation led to censure by the Commission on Judicial Performance and withdrawal by the nominee.