Governor Brown Appoints Justice Joshua Groban to California Supreme Court

By Michelle Godwin Cornelius

On Jan. 3rd, Justice Joshua Groban was sworn into the California Supreme Court, filling the vacancy left by the 2017 retirement of Justice Kathryn Mickle Werdegar. The California Supreme Court functions as the highest  court in California. According to Courthouse News Service, the addition of Groban makes Democratic appointees a high court majority for the first time in more than three decades.

(Governor Brown)

Although Groban’s judicial experience is limited, the newly appointed justice served as senior advisor to  Governor Brown and oversaw more than 600 judicial appointments since 2011. These appointments were some of the most diverse in California’s history. In addition to his experience as senior advisor to Jerry Brown, Groban also was chief legal advisor in Jerry Brown’s 2010 Governor campaign. Governor Brown holds Groban in high confidence. “Josh Groban has vast knowledge of the law and sound and practical judgment,” Brown said, “He’ll be a strong addition to California’s highest court.”

After receiving a Bachelors of Arts from Stanford University and a Juris Doctor degree cum laude from Harvard Law School, Groban served as a law clerk for the Honorable William C. Connor in the Southern District of New York. According to a press release from Governor Brown, Groban then worked as an attorney at Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton, and Garrison LLP from 1999 to 2005 and at Munger, Tolles and Olson LLP from 2005 to 2010. Since 2015, he has served as a lecturer in state appellate practice at the University of California, Los Angeles School of Law. Groban’s subjects of interest include white collar criminal law, government law, appellate law, and civil ligation.

The nomination was unanimously confirmed by the three-member Commission on Judicial Appointments on Dec. 21, 2018. This appointment filled the Court’s seventh and final position; prior to the appointment, the Court was functioning for five months with only six members. Governor Brown addressed the delay, stating that because he had already appointed three judges to the Court, a fourth judge could be both decisive and impactful. Chief Justice Tani Cantil-Sakauye noted that Brown’s appointments make up the majority of the seven-member Supreme Court, which contributed to the decisiveness of the appointment. The other three appointees to the California Supreme Court were similar to Groban in having no prior judicial experience.

Groban expressed gratitude and humility in his appointment as a Supreme Court justice.

“I think each justice brings with him or her a sense of who they are and their values, a sense of empathy, a sense of a nation created for all, a sense of fairness, kindness and compassion and if confirmed, I hope those values will carry with me and guide me.”