You have probably already heard the news last week, when Justice Joyce Kennard of the California Supreme Court announced that she would be retiring as of April 5, 2013, which will mark her 25th anniversary as a member of the Court.
Yesterday's San Francisco Chronicle had an interesting article by Bob Egelko about some of Justice Kennard's most significant opinions. An excerpt:
Kennard's majority opinions included a 1991 ruling declaring high school graduation prayers unconstitutional, a conclusion the U.S. Supreme Court reached in a separate case a year later; another 1991 decision establishing an employee's right to sue for age discrimination; and a 1997 ruling allowing a suit against a city by a woman who was stopped by a police officer, taken into custody and raped - an abuse, Kennard said, of the "formidable power" the city had granted to the officer.
She voted often with the court's moderate-to-liberal bloc, but not always - for example, she joined a 1991 ruling that upheld legislative term limits and slashed the lawmakers' operating budget. But Kennard was impossible to pigeonhole.
When the court upheld the enforcement of surrogate-motherhood contracts in 1993, Kennard cast a lone dissent and told the all-male majority that a pregnant woman "is more than a mere container or breeding animal; she is a conscious agent of creation."
There is no indication that Justice Kennard will not remain on the bench for the March argument calendar, which includes the Duran case. If the opinion is handed down after the date of her retirement, she will almost certainly be appointed by the Chief Justice to continue to serve on the panel pro tem, as was Chief Justice George in the Kwikset case. (Kwikset was argued on November 3, 2010; Chief Justice George retired on January 2, 2011; he was appointed the next day as a pro tem justice for the mater; and the opinion was handed down on January 27, 2011.)
Last week, the Daily Journal offered some speculation on possible candidates to fill Justice Kennard's seat. The blog At the Lectern has more on this. The list of possible candidates recognizes that the current Court has no Latino members and no one from Southern California.