The court consists of a chief justice and six associate justices who are appointed by the governor for 12-year terms. New justices are subject to a retention vote by the public at the next general election after their appointment, and each 12 years thereafter.
The electorate has exercised the power not to retain justices; Chief Justice Rose Bird and Associate Justices Cruz Reynoso and Joseph Grodin were removed in 1986 because they opposed capital punishment.
The current court:
Chief Justice Ronald George
Often the swing vote on the court.
George was appointed in July 1991 by Gov. Pete Wilson.
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 "If the motto 'and justice for all' becomes 'and justice for those who can afford it', we threaten the very underpinnings of our social contract," George said in the annual "State of Judiciary" speech in 2001.
From a Dec. 10, 2006, L.A. Times article: Ten years after Chief Justice Ronald M. George became head of California's courts and dramatically transformed the state's judicial branch, many Los Angeles judges remain resentful of their loss of power and control.
Atty. Gen. Bill Lockyer, a Democrat, calls the Republican George "the best chief justice in California history."
Some judges in Los Angeles have another name for him: "King George."
It is a measure of their distrust that few of George's critics would permit themselves to be quoted by name. Privately, they accuse George of building a judicial empire by centralizing administrative power in an ever-growing state bureaucracy.
Associate Justice Carlos R. Moreno
He is considered a moderate.
Moreno was sworn in as an associate justice of the Supreme Court of California on Oct. 18, 2001, following his nomination by Gov. Gray Davis.
Date of Birth: Nov. 4, 1948, in Los Angeles