Ronald M. George


Chief Justice
May 1996–January 2011

Associate Justice
September 1991-May 1996


Date of Birth: March 11, 1940
Family: Married; 3 children
Education: J.D., Stanford Law School, 1964
A.B., Princeton University (Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs), 1961


Supreme Court of California: appointed on July 29, 1991, by Governor Pete Wilson, confirmed by the Commission on Judicial Appointments on September 3, 1991, oath same day; elected November 8, 1994, to full term; appointed as 27th Chief Justice of California on March 28, 1996, confirmed by the Commission on Judicial Appointments on May 1, 1996, oath same day; elected November 3, 1998, to full term.

Court of Appeal: appointed on July 23, 1987, by Governor George Deukmejian, confirmed by the Commission on Judicial Appointments on August 27, 1987, oath same day; elected November 6, 1990, to balance of term.

Los Angeles Superior Court: appointed on December 23, 1977, by Governor Edmund Brown, Jr. (and elected without opposition to six-year terms in 1978 and 1984); felony trials including the pretrial and trial proceedings in the Hillside Strangler case (People v. Angelo Buono) (1981-83); Supervising Judge in charge of the Criminal Division (1983-84); civil trials and civil settlement panel (1985-87).

Los Angeles Municipal Court: appointed April 20, 1972, by Governor Ronald Reagan (and elected without opposition to six-year term in 1976); Supervising Judge in charge of the Criminal Division (1977); Supervising Judge in charge of the West Los Angeles Branch (1974-75).


Chair, California Judicial Council (1996-present); other Judicial Council activities: Member (1989-1991) and Member and Chair, Executive Committee (1993-96); Chair, Advisory Committee to Implement the Gender Fairness Proposals (1991-94); Chair, Subcommittee on Gender Bias in the Courts (1991-94); Chair, Task Force on Voir Dire and Judicial Council Advisory Committee on Voir Dire (1988); Co-Chair, California State-Federal Judicial Council (1996-present).

President, Conference of Chief Justices (2003-04)

Chair, Board of Directors, National Center for State Courts (2003-04)

Member, Committee on Federal-State Jurisdiction of the Judicial Conference of the U.S. (1999-2002)

Member, Anglo-American Legal Exchange, U.S. State Dept. Program (1999-2000)

Member, Governor’s Commission on Building California for the 21st Century (1999-2002)

Member, Committee on Continuing Appellate Education of the American Bar Association’s Judicial Administration Division (1993-1996)

President, California Judges Association (1982-83)
Member, Executive Board (1977, 1980-83)
Member, Appellate Courts Committee (1987-91)

Los Angeles Countywide Criminal Justice Coordinating Committee
(Chairman pro tem 1984, member 1983)

Judicial Commission on Crime Victims, member, appointed by Attorney General George Deukmejian (1980-82)

Los Angeles Superior Court Committee on Standard Jury Instructions – Criminal (CALJIC), member 1977-1987), co-editor of California Jury Instructions-Criminal (West Publishing Co., 4th edition,1979)

Lecturer at numerous judicial education programs, law schools, bar associations, news media seminars, law enforcement agencies, including American Bar Association Appellate Judges Seminar Series, California State-Federal Judicial Council Capital Case Symposium, San Diego Law Library Justice Foundation, Criminal Justice Legal Foundation, 2020 Vision Symposium on the Future of California’s Courts, Annual Meetings of Calif. Judges Association, Annual Meeting of Calif. District Attorneys’ Association, Los Angeles County Bar Association, U.S.C. Legion Lex, Calif. Law Enforcement Warrant Officers’ Association, Calif. Judicial College, Calif. Continuing Judicial Studies Program, Calif. Superior Court Criminal Law & Procedure Institute, Calif. Institute for Trial Advocacy Skills (Univ. So. Calif. Law Center), U.C.L.A. Law School Moot Court and Mock Trial Programs, Constitutional Rights Foundation

Author, 1985, 1986, 1987 and 1988 California Criminal Trial Judges’ Benchbook, and 1985, 1986, 1987 and 1988 Calif. Criminal Trial Judges’ Deskbook (West Publishing Co.)

Author, Benchblotter: Common Crimes and Punishments (published by L.A. Daily Journal, 1985-1987)

Author, Determinate Sentencing Manual (published by L.A. Daily Journal, 1987)

Co-Author, Calif. Judicial Retirement Handbook (Calif. Judges’ Association) (3rd & 4th editions)

Project Safer California, Member (appointed by Governor Ronald Reagan), Advisory Committee on Special Problems in the Judicial Process(1974)

Member: American Bar Association, American Judicature Society


2004 – Public Counsel’s William O. Douglas Award

2003 – George Moscone Award for Outstanding Public Service, Consumer Attorneys of Los Angeles

2003 – James Madison Freedom of Information Award, Society of Professional Journalists

2002 – William H. Rehnquist Award for Judicial Excellence

2000 – Foundation of the State Bar’s Justice Award

2000 – Judge Learned Hand Award

1998 – American Judicature Society’s Herbert Harley Award ("for services in promoting the effective administration of justice")

1998 – Los Angeles County Barristers’ Special Recognition

1997 – President’s Award, State Association of Counties

1997 – St. Thomas More Medallion Award "for outstanding moral, intellectual, and professional contributions to the law and society," presented by the St. Thomas More Law Honor Society

1997 – "Justice of the Year," Consumer Attorneys of California

1996 – "Person of the Year," Los Angeles Metropolitan News

1996 – Commission on Judicial Nominees Evaluation of the State Bar of California, unanimously ranked "exceptionally well qualified" (highest possible rating) for appointment as Chief Justice

1991 – "Appellate Justice of the Year" Award from the Los Angeles Trial Lawyers Association

1983 – "Trial Judge of the Year," Los Angeles Metropolitan News

1981 – Recipient, President’s Cup of the California Judges Association (as the judge who did the most for the California judiciary during the year)


Before the California Supreme Court representing the State of California in 11 cases in oral arguments and preparation of briefs, including People v. Anderson (1972) 6 Cal.3d 628 [100 Cal.Rptr. 152] (which invalidated the death penalty under the California Constitution’s cruel or unusual punishment clause), and People v. Sirhan Sirhan (1972) 7 Cal.3d 710 [102 Cal.Rptr. 385] (involving assassination of Senator Robert Kennedy)

Before the U.S. Court of Appeals (Ninth Circuit), U.S. District Court, and California Courts of Appeal, oral argument and briefs in excess of 100 appeals and writs

Numerous trials and investigations Before the United States Supreme Court, six oral arguments and preparation of briefs:

     • Chimel v. California (1969) 395 U.S. 752 (scope of search incident to arrest)
     • Hill v. California (1971) 401 U.S. 797 (argued twice) (search incident to mistaken arrest)
     • McGautha v. California (1971) 402 U.S. 183 (constitutionality of jury punishment-determination procedures in capital cases)
     • Aikens v. California (1972) 406 U.S. 813 (initially the lead case on constitutionality of death penalty as decided in Furman v. Georgia (1972) 408 U.S. 238, until rendered moot by the California Supreme Court decision in People v. Anderson (above) invalidating the death penalty)
     • Kirby v. Illinois (1972) 406 U.S. 682 (argued as amicus curiae by special leave of the court) (limiting right to counsel at police lineups)

Administrative Assistant in charge of the Los Angeles Office of the Attorney General (supervision of 110 attorneys and 200 stenographic and clerical personnel