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Justice System Journal


The chief justice of California is empowered to select a pro tempore justice when one or more of the court's regular justices are absent. Chief Justice Rose Bird was accused of using this power to manipulate case outcomes. Contemporary scholarly investigations came to mixed conclusions. Bird's successors have adopted the nondiscretionary method of alphabetical selection. The present study compares the agreement rates of temporary justices with Bird and with her two immediate successors, Malcolm Lucas and Ronald George. It finds evidence of vote bias for Bird, particularly in close cases and cases before April 1981. It does not find evidence of vote bias for Chief Justices Lucas or George, suggesting that a non-discretionary selection procedure should be formally required.


Copyright © 2006 National Center for State Courts.

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