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Mosk Cases Reassigned to Other Justices

By Sonia Giordani
The Recorder
June 26, 2001

The cases for which Stanley Mosk was supposed to have written the majority opinion were reassigned Friday to other justices on the California Supreme Court.

Chief Justice Ronald George said he tried to spread the workload evenly among the six remaining justices. The opinions should be released in time to meet the rule requiring the court's decision in a case within 90 days of oral argument.

"We cannot file anything with Justice Mosk's name on it," George said. "Let's say he had been circulating a dissent -- it will not appear."

The research material and draft opinions prepared by Mosk and his team of five attorneys will be reviewed by the justice newly named to author the decision in Mosk's place. But George added that it will be up to each individual justice whether to accept the reasoning in its entirety, to edit it and re-circulate it again among the justices, or to start from scratch and still try to meet the 90-day rule.

Mosk died June 19 at his home after working 37 years on the state high court. A memorial service is to be held in Los Angeles today. Mosk was 88.

Upon news of Mosk's death, George immediately met with members of the justice's staff. All had worked with him for years.

Peter Belton, Mosk's senior staff attorney, actually preceded Mosk onto the court himself; he started out as a staff attorney with former Justice B. Rey Schauer in 1960 and was hired by Mosk when he came onto the court four years later. Mosk once said, "I never put anything out without running it by him."

Other staff members include Robert Katz, Dennis Maio, who worked with Mosk for 17 years, Judith Schelly and Theodore Stroll.

The staff attorneys are at will employees for the justice who hired them. George said they will remain on board working on research assignments Mosk had undertaken -- for instance, researching and preparing calendar memoranda on cases recently taken up for review that are to be circulated among the justices.

Once Mosk's successor is selected by the governor, the attorneys can apply for a job working with the new justice. However, the new justice can opt to bring on board his or her own staff.

"Frequently though, new justices have maintained the staff they inherited," George said.

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