LOS ANGELES (CN) – Judge Eric Taylor of Los Angeles Superior Court was elected Tuesday to a second term as president of the California Judges Association.
Taylor, who served a year as president of the judges group from 2003-2004, said he welcomes the chance to fight again on behalf of California’s trial court judges.
The job will include plenty of trips to Sacramento to lobby legislators, for the judiciary’s legislative interests and restored funding for the courts.
“I’m looking forward to the work. If that’s in Sacramento then that’s where I look forward to be,” Taylor said. “I enjoy it because it’s what we’ve dedicated our lives to do as judges. We’ve dedicated our lives to serving people.”
Taylor met with legislators on Tuesday after the election.
“They were really welcoming to us. It was great sitting down and getting to know them and educate them about what the courts do and how we serve their constituents,” he said.
Funding remains a big issue, as it was in his first term 12 years ago. While the governor and Legislature have restored hundreds of millions to the judiciary in recent years, courts are still reeling from harsh cuts that darkened courtrooms and shuttered courthouses throughout the state.
“Having adequate funding to continue to serve the people around the state and the way that is deserving of people that come to us for justice, that was a problem then and it remains a problem, more so now coming out of the recession and trying to restore funds that were systematically removed over time,” Taylor said.
“With restoring funds to the judicial branch, it’s to serve court users that come to us every day looking for us to provide a forum for justice. That’s essentially what this is about. We’ve had our budget stripped away to such a degree that it’s affected access. Having access to justice is such a fundamental and essential need for people, especially those most at risk. That has been an essential component of our agenda for the past 80 plus years.”
Taylor said he draws inspiration for that mission from his family legacy of civil rights pioneers: his Freedom Rider father, John C. Taylor, and his grandmother Ella Mae Ferneil, who was California’s first black registered nurse.
“I’m proud that my father put his life on the line to ride on buses and sit at counters and fight for the rights of everyone to be treated equally in this country. And I’m really proud of my grandmother, who was a trailblazer too. She had to endure many obstacles and setbacks to reach the point that she did,” Taylor said.
“I miss my father dearly and he had a great influence on who I am. He always told me to stand up for people who don’t have a voice, and be honest about it.”
Taylor earned his undergraduate degree from Dartmouth, and his law degree from the University of Virginia. He also served as an extern to another role model, California Supreme Court’s Justice Allen E. Broussard.
Before taking the bench, Taylor was deputy county counsel for Los Angeles County, and an associate with the firms Sonnenschein, Nath and Rosenthal, and Pettit and Martin.
Along with his presidency comes a one-year appointment to the Judicial Council as a nonvoting member. The council is chaired by California Supreme Court Chief Justice Tani Cantil-Sakauye.
“It is an interesting seat to have to watch the decisions that affect the operations of our court occurring in real time,” Taylor said. “CJA has been the voice of the judiciary and that voice is essential to any discussions that occur within the judicial branch. I’d like to play a role in providing a voice for the judges throughout the state to the chief [justice]. I’m optimistic it will be a good relationship.”
Taylor’s term starts on Oct. 10. He said it’s too early to say what his priorities will be. That will be determined when he meets with the CJA executive board in the fall.
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