Newest California Supreme Court Justice Takes Oath of Office

Joshua Groban chats with former Gov. Gray Davis before being sworn in at the Stanley Mosk Library in Sacramento, California on Thursday, Jan. 3, 2019. Groban served as a legal adviser to Gov. Jerry Brown during his last two terms in office. (Nick Cahill/CNS)

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (CN) – Bookending a combined four terms in office, Gov. Jerry Brown on Thursday swore in longtime legal adviser Joshua Groban to the California Supreme Court.

Groban, 45, worked on Brown’s 2010 gubernatorial campaign and went on to vet hundreds of judicial appointments while serving in the governor’s cabinet over the last eight years.

The Harvard-trained lawyer is Brown’s fourth appointment to the seven-justice court and like the governor’s other selections, Justices Goodwin Liu, Mariano-Florentino Cuellar and Leondra Kruger, Groban has no previous bench experience.

In a ceremony at the Stanley Mosk Library near the state capitol, Brown told a crowd of current and former jurists that he’s probably talked more with Groban over the last eight years than anyone besides his wife, Anne Gust Brown.

“Don’t screw up, at least not at first,” Brown joked with Groban on stage. Brown added that Groban has the “intellect and values” required to serve on the state high court.

Chief Justice Tani Cantil-Sakauye called Groban’s swearing in a “wonderfully historic moment” and noted that Brown’s appointments now make up a majority of the high court bench.

With Groban’s guidance, Brown moved to diversify California’s judiciary with 644 total appointments since 2011.

Over half of Brown’s appointments were women and 40 percent identified as non-white as of March 2018. His appointments are dotted with an array of notable firsts including the first black man to the Fourth District Court of Appeal, the first South Asian American judge to the Sacramento Superior Court and the first openly gay justice to the Second District Court of Appeal.

Groban, a Democrat, assumes the vacancy left by the 2017 retirement of Justice Kathryn Werdegar, who he says will serve as a “wonderful mentor and inspiration” when he arrives on the bench. The Los Angeles resident promised to join the high court with compassion and respect for the law when it reconvenes next week.

Prior to joining Brown’s gubernatorial campaign, Groban was an attorney at Munger, Tolles and Olson as well as Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton and Garrison. He served as a law clerk for former Southern District of New York Judge William Conner and is also a lecturer at University of California, Los Angeles School of Law.

The Commission on Judicial Appointments unanimously confirmed Groban last December and for the first time in three decades, Democratic appointments will make up a majority of the high court.

“I’m joining an institution whose fundamental purpose at the core is to provide stability and consistency amidst this chaotic place we live,” Groban said.

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