Capitol Alert

Werdegar retirement gives Jerry Brown chance to further mold California Supreme Court

California Supreme Court Associate Kathryn Mickle Werdegar in San Francisco, Tuesday, March 4, 2008. On March 8, 2017, she announced her retirement from the court, effective in August 2017.
California Supreme Court Associate Kathryn Mickle Werdegar in San Francisco, Tuesday, March 4, 2008. On March 8, 2017, she announced her retirement from the court, effective in August 2017. AP

Gov. Jerry Brown will have another opportunity to shape the state’s highest court after Justice Kathryn M. Werdegar announced Tuesday her plans to retire later this year.

Werdegar’s departure, set for Aug. 31, will give Brown his fourth opportunity in his second stint as governor to mold the seven-member California Supreme Court, long regarded by legal experts as among the most influential in the nation.

Brown’s recent appointments, of Leondra Kruger, Mariano-Florentino Cuéllar and Goodwin Liu have recast the court with Democratic appointees from outside the judiciary. Like Brown, all three attended Yale Law School.

Werdegar, a native San Franciscan, was appointed to the court by Gov. Pete Wilson and was twice reconfirmed by statewide voters.

Wilson in a prepared statement, said, “I am sure that Justice Werdegar’s colleagues on the high court, past and present, regard her with great affection and great respect as a conscientious and collegial member of the court.

“... She will be missed and remembered by California’s legal community for her lucid and highly articulate opinions. She has my sincere thanks for her dedication and truly distinguished service,” Wilson said.

Added Brown, “Justice Werdegar has had a remarkable career and California is grateful for her long, dedicated service.”

Werdegar previous served on the Court of Appeal, 1st Appellate District, Division 3 in San Francisco.

In the statement, she said, “I have had the privilege of serving with three outstanding Chief Justices and many wonderful colleagues, and the opportunity to address some of the state’s most challenging issues.

“But, it is time for someone else to have that privilege and opportunity. I wish my colleagues, the governor, and my successor well.”

Christopher Cadelago: 916-326-5538, @ccadelago

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