Don't Be Misled
All counties in California must have at least two superior court judges. The actual number is decided by the size of the county. Calaveras has two; Los Angeles County has over 400. The vast majority of judges are originally appointed. Our presiding judge John E. Martin was appointed in 1995. Judge Hugh K. Swift was appointed last year.
The appointment process is grueling. To be considered, an applicant must have practiced law in California for at least ten years. After filling out the necessary paper work, each applicant is thoroughly evaluated by the Commission on Judicial Nominees Evaluation (JNE). The commission is a non-partisan agency of the State Bar of California, an administrative arm of the California Supreme Court.
The commission considers an applicant’s broad legal experience, intellectual capacity, impartiality, community respect, commitment to equal justice and judicial temperament. They send questionnaires to all of the attorneys and judges listed in the application, at least 60 professional references, and to randomly selected members of the local legal community. After receiving responses to the questionnaires, the Commission interviews the applicant and makes a recommendation.
By state law the governor cannot appoint a judge without the commission’s recommendation. This is to make sure only qualified judges are appointed.
Other judicial candidates running for office do not have to go through a rigorous evaluation process.
Judge Hugh Swift did go through this process and received the JNE’s recommendation. At no time in the interview was his political affiliation discussed.
Understanding the thoroughness of this vetting, 25 superior court judges from throughout the state, including Judge Martin and Judge Mewhinney, have encouraged residents of Calaveras County to vote for Judge Hugh Swift.