Despite worries from some judges and legal commentators that California's judicial election process was in danger of becoming politicized, voters have soundly endorsed the status quo.
The electorate voted overwhelmingly Tuesday to retain state Supreme Court Justices Joyce L. Kennard and Carol A. Corrigan, along with all 51 Court of Appeal justices on the ballot.
For The Record
Los Angeles Times Friday November 17, 2006 Home Edition Main News Part A Page 2 National Desk 0 inches; 31 words Type of Material: Correction
Judicial races: An article in the Nov. 9 California section about judicial candidates said judges on the state Supreme Court and Court of Appeal serve six-year terms. They serve 12-year terms.
Election outcomes for four vacant seats on the Los Angeles County Superior Court bench were also without surprises. By large margins, voters picked four criminal prosecutors, traditional favorites, to ascend to the bench. All four had received the imprimatur of the county bar association.
Deputy City Atty. Deborah L. Sanchez beat Bob Henry, a California deputy attorney general. And the other three winning judicial candidates, Daviann L. Mitchell, Hayden Zacky and David W. Stuart, were all deputy district attorneys.
This election was in contrast to June's primary, in which a bagel store owner with limited legal experience ousted a well-regarded sitting judge, Dzintra Janavs.
Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger quickly reappointed Janavs to a vacant seat.
But the fact that she was voted out, coupled with the rise of hotly contested, partisan races in other states, prompted some anxiety that judicial races in California could be the next battleground.
The vast majority of judges in Los Angeles County and across the state are appointed by the governor.
Once on the bench, they face retention elections every six years, but they only appear on the ballot if they have an opponent.
Each election also features contests for open seats that are vacated too close to the end of a term for the governor to have time to name a replacement.
Justices on the Court of Appeal and state Supreme Court also face retention elections every six years.
Critics have long bemoaned that most voters don't have a clue who any of the judges are when they go to vote -- and that many cast ballots anyway.