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MCLE Self-Assessment Test

Judicial Council hires judge as AOC director

A retired Shasta County jurist has been named the state's new administrative director of the courts, the first judge to hold the position.

Judge Steven Jahr

Judge Jahr

Judge Steven Jahr, who spent 22 years on the bench before retiring in 2009, was appointed following a unanimous vote by the Judicial Council at its meeting July 27. He begins his new job Oct. 8.

In a videotaped interview with reporters, Jahr said he would bring judicial experience to what he described as “very challenging times,” not only for fiscal reasons. A special committee recently did an in-depth review of the Administrative Office of Courts, the staff agency for the Judicial Council, and recommended structural changes to increase transparency and accountability.

“We have, as you know, some serious budget issues confronting everyone in the state, the branches of government and, of course, the judicial branch,” Jahr said. “Simultaneously, we're doing in the judicial branch a healthy, public self-assessment process that was initiated by our chief justice.”

Jahr said he looked forward to being part of the effort to ensure the AOC has the “best and most effective” direction for providing customer service to the Judicial Council and the courts.

Chief Justice Tani G. Cantil-Sakauye said she was “enormously pleased” Jahr had accepted the position.

“The depth of his experience in the judicial branch – as a trial court judge, as a presiding judge, and as a participant in statewide judicial branch initiatives – makes him an ideal choice,” she said in a prepared statement.

The fifth administrative director since the position was created in 1960, Jahr oversaw the consolidation of Shasta County's municipal and superior courts and operated a felony direct calendar for several years, a role that gave him sole responsibility for drug court. He was the court's presiding judge for four years and started the Prop. 36 (Substance Abuse and Crime Prevention Act) court calendar, running it during its first years of existence.

In addition to his work with the court, Jahr was a board member and vice president of the California Judges Association and, just prior to his retirement, was appointed to serve on the Commission for Impartial Courts. In 1997, the Judicial Council named him Jurist of the Year. The following year, he was appointed to the council, chairing its Rules and Projects Committee.

Since retiring, Jahr has volunteered his time to a courthouse project in his county and has served on Judicial Council working groups. He replaces William C. Vickrey, who retired last year.