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California Courts Of Appeal
Appellate Court justices run uncontested. Instead, you choose to keep or remove them. Here's your voting guide for the second district justices.
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What Does A California Appellate Court Justice Do?

If you lose a case in a trial court and you choose to appeal the verdict, you may see a California Appellate Court justice during the appeal. It’s the justice’s job to examine a lower court’s decision to see if there were any mistakes. They can overturn the lower court’s decision if they decide there is a mistake, which can lead to a retrial.

In most cases, the California Court of Appeal is the final stop for an appeal because the state Supreme Court only agrees to review a fraction of appeals.

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California has six appellate districts. The second district covers Los Angeles, Ventura, Santa Barbara and San Luis Obispo counties, with one presiding justice and at least two associate justices. Second district’s divisions one through five, seven and eight handle all appeals from the Los Angeles Superior Court, our trial court.

Appellate Court justices don’t work like a typical judge. They don’t look at new evidence or do anything to conduct a new trial. Instead, the justices look at the case’s records to determine if procedures were followed and if the judge applied the law correctly. Appellate Court justices are held to the same standard as other judges — they can’t let personal feelings influence a decision and they have to follow the law. Cases are decided by a panel of three justices in the district, so a justice serving another county could help decide your case.

The California Court of Appeal is focused on higher-stakes appeals, such as state and local law cases, family law cases (such as child custody and divorces), probate cases (distributing a person’s possessions after they die), juvenile cases, felony cases and civil cases for more than $25,000. Death penalty appeals and judicial disciplinary cases go to the California Supreme Court. The rest go to an appeals division with the judges we vote on in the Superior Court.

In order to serve on the Court of Appeal, a person must:

But if they want to stay, that’s where the public comes in. Appellate Court justices run in uncontested elections, but the voters can choose to keep or remove them from office. This is why they’re often referred to as “retention elections.” On your ballot are both newly appointed justices and ones at the end of their 12-year terms, which is why L.A. voters are being asked to decide 12 nonpartisan offices this year.

If any justices are voted out this year, the governor appoints a replacement.

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You Might Recognize Their Work From…

City government cases. Police department challenges. And even rental and rideshare disputes.

The Court of Appeal in L.A. recently ruled that Sheriff Alex Villanueva, who’s running for reelection, unlawfully rehired a fired deputy who was accused of abusing and stalking his then-girlfriend.

A separate appeals court granted temporary relief for Mission Viejo city council members to stay in office, while justices review a ruling that removed them. You could even see a California appeals court issue a ruling soon about a decision that denied Lyft and Uber’s push to force arbitration for state claims about misclassified drivers.

What Should I Consider In A Candidate?

It’s essential to elect a justice that understands the law and how to interpret ambiguous laws correctly.

But evaluating judicial candidates is notoriously hard, and Appellate Court justices are among the hardest.

You usually won’t see candidates have a website or much in endorsements. Whenever a new justice is nominated, the California State Bar evaluates them in much of the same ways the L.A. County Bar Association investigates and interviews trial court judicial candidates — except the state investigations and subsequent ratings usually aren’t made public.

The state bar says Appellate Court justices should have the qualities of collegiality, writing ability and scholarship. They rate nominees as “Exceptionally Well Qualified, “Well Qualified,” “Qualified” or “Not Qualified.”

In this case you are voting whether to keep or remove these justices, rather than choosing between candidates, but there’s limited information available to help you make a choice. Here are points to consider:

What did the state bar rate them as nominees? Sometimes, the ratings are made public but it generally stays between the bar’s evaluations commission, the court’s appointments commission and the governor. The ratings can be a quick north star to guide you, so we’ve included this information if it was publicized.

What opinions have they handed down? Appellate Court decisions are public. If you’re into looking at records, this may be the spot for you.

What was their experience before becoming a justice? The only requirement for being a justice is to have practiced law for 10 years, but experience as a judge or appeals lawyer gives them experience and insight into legal decision-making. Most sitting Appellate Court justices worked prior in trial courts as judges and lawyers.

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The Candidates

With all the above in mind, here is our Appellate Court justices guide. It includes all 12 L.A. County candidates vying to stay in office. Each profile comes from the California Courts website and may include what the state bar rated the justices at the time of appointment if that was publicized.

All candidates, except for two Appellate Court justices in L.A. County, are seeking reelection. Justice Maria Stratton and Associate Justice Hernaldo Baltodano are the only newly appointed justices.


Division 1

Frances Rothschild, Presiding Justice

Website: Official Judicial Profile
State bar rating: Well Qualified (as of 2005)
First appointed by: Former Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger
Promoted by: Former Gov. Jerry Brown

Read more about Frances Rothschild's experience and priorities on Voter's Edge.

Division 2

Judith M. Ashmann, Associate Justice

Website: Official Judicial Profile
State bar rating: Not available
First appointed by: Former Gov. Gray Davis

Read more about Judith M. Ashmann's priorities and experience on Voter's Edge.

Division 3

Luis A. Lavin, Associate Justice

Website: Official Judicial Profile
State bar rating: Well Qualified (as of 2015)
First appointed by: Former Governor Jerry Brown

Read more about Luis A. Lavin's priorities and experience on Voter's Edge.

Division 4

Audrey B. Collins, Associate Justice

Website: Official Judicial Profile
State bar rating: Exceptionally Well Qualified (as of 2014)
First appointed by: Former Governor Jerry Brown

Read more about Audrey B Collins' priorities and experience on Voter's Edge.

Brian S. Currey, Associate Justice

Website: Official Judicial Profile
State bar rating: Exceptionally Well Qualified (as of 2018)
First appointed by: Former Governor Jerry Brown

Read more about Brian S. Currey's priorities and experience on Voter's Edge.

Division 5

Laurence D. Rubin, Presiding Justice

Website: Official Judicial Profile
State bar rating: Not available
First appointed by: Former Gov. Gray Davis
Promoted by: Former Gov. Jerry Brown

Read more about Laurence D. Rubin's priorities and experience on Voter's Edge.

Lamar W. Baker, Associate Justice

Website: Official Judicial Profile
State bar rating: Qualified (as of 2015)
First appointed by: Former Gov. Jerry Brown

Read more about Lamar W. Baker's priorities and experience on Voter's Edge.

Division 6

Hernaldo J. Baltodano, Associate Justice

Website: Official Judicial Profile
State bar rating: Not available
First appointed by: Gov. Gavin Newsom

Read more about Hernaldo J. Baltodano's priorities and experience on Voter's Edge.

Division 7

John L. Segal, Associate Justice

Website: Official Judicial Profile
State bar rating: Exceptionally Well Qualified (as of 2015)
First appointed by: Former Gov. Jerry Brown

Read more about John L. Segal's priorities and experience on Voter's Edge.

Division 8

Maria E. Stratton, Presiding Justice

Website: Official Judicial Profile
State bar rating: Well-Qualified (as of 2022)
First appointed by: Former Gov. Jerry Brown
Promoted by: Gov. Gavin Newsom

Read more about Maria E. Stratton's priorities and experience on Voter's Edge.

John Shepard Wiley Jr., Associate Justice

Website: Official Judicial Profile
State bar rating: Not available
First appointed by: Former Gov. Jerry Brown

Read more about John Shepard Wiley Jr.'s experience on Voter's Edge.

Elizabeth Annette Grimes, Associate Justice

Website: Official Judicial Profile
State bar rating: Qualified (as of 2005)
First appointed by: Former Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger

Read more about Elizabeth Annette Grimes' priorities and experience on Voter's Edge.

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Head to the Voter Game Plan homepage for guides to the rest of your ballot.

Updated October 27, 2022 at 6:07 PM PDT
This guide was updated to include which governor appointed each justice.