SAN FRANCISCO (CN) - California's Commission on Judicial Appointments unanimously confirmed two Los Angeles judges and a Sacramento attorney to the appellate bench.
Edmon's elevation to Presiding Justice of the Third Division of the Second Appellate District was the second time in court history in which a judge has gone from the superior court bench straight to presiding justice. She replaces retiring Senior Presiding Justice Joan Dempsey Klein, the only other justice to do so.
"I have enormous shoes to try to fill," Edmon said.
Klein, who joined Chief Justice Tani Cantil-Sakauye and Attorney General Kamala Harris in approving Edmon's nomination to the seat at a hearing Thursday, joked, "I have to be careful during this hearing because this person is going to replace me. If I make a bad vote today, we're all in trouble."
Witnesses lauded Edmon's qualifications. Long-time friend Edith Matthai, a partner at Robie and Matthai in Los Angeles, said, "I have no qualms that Judge Lee Smalley Edmon is absolutely up to the job. Like Justice Joan Dempsey Klein, she is an obvious leader."
Matthai pointed to Edmon's leadership of Los Angeles Superior Court as presiding judge during two years of harsh budget cuts from 2011-2013.
"That is not an easy job in the best of times. Judge Edmon took on that job in the worst of times," Matthai said.
Edmon spearheaded a court consolidation plan of large-scale courtroom closures and staff layoffs, but kept the courts running and hearing cases.
"Her legacy is that she kept the court operating and she kept the judges united in what I consider the biggest challenge in the history of Los Angeles Superior Court," Assistant Presiding Judge Carolyn Kuhl of Los Angeles said.
Kuhl pointed out that Edmon was the first woman presiding judge in Los Angeles, though women have served on the bench since 1928.
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