The Senate President Pro Tem released his committee assignments this week and for the first time in more than a decade, a majority of senators serving on Judiciary will be non-lawyers. Attorneys Ellen Corbett, D-San Leandro, and Tom Harman R-Huntington Beach (and the only GOP lawyer left in the Senate), will continue serving as chairwoman and vice chairman, respectively. But they will be outnumbered by non-lawyers Dean Florez, D-Shafter; Mark Leno, D-San Francisco; and Mimi Walters, R-Laguna Niguel.
You have to go back to 1994 and the days of an 11-member Senate Judiciary Committee to find a time when lay people outnumbered lawyers — and even then, five of 11 were licensed attorneys and a sixth had graduated from law school, according to a veteran staffer in the know.
The latest numbers reflect the continuing decline of lawyers in the ranks of the Legislature and the apparent unwillingness of some to serve on the committee that churns out legal and judicial policy. For whatever reason, four other licensed attorneys in the Senate — all Democrats — were not appointed to Judiciary.
The Assembly speaker is expected to release committee assignments for house later today. The lawyer numbers on the Assembly Judiciary Committee should be just as paltry.
— Cheryl Miller