California Supreme Court justices recuse themselves in buildings-sale case

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All the justices on the California Supreme Court have recused themselves from hearing the controversial case of the sale of two dozen state buildings because the high court itself is housed in one of the properties in the transaction.

Now, the state will appoint a seven-member panel of appeals court judges to act in their stead to potentially rule on the case. The new ‘pro tempore’ Supreme Court will be selected alphabetically this week from a list of appeals court judges, said Lynn Holton, a spokeswoman for the court.


Attorneys for Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger had pleaded with the high court on Monday to step in, arguing that waiting for the 6th Court of Appeal to rule is tantamount to killing the deal. The sale of state buildings is expected to generate $1.2 billion for the state budget this year, but the state would have to lease back the buildings for the next 20 years from the buyer.

Two former building authority members are suing to block the sale, calling it a waste of taxpayer dollars. They lost in superior court but their appeal could stall the case until after Schwarzenegger leaves office in two weeks. Gov.-elect Jerry Brown has not taken a position on the sale.

-- Shane Goldmacher in Sacramento