- CJF High School Civics Essay Contest
- Material Organization (Logical interpretation of the subject, adherence to topic): 40 points
- Vocabulary and Style (Phrasing and continuity): 30 points
- Grammar, Punctuation, Spelling: 20 points
- Neatness: 5 points
- Adherence to contest rules (prepared in the proper format): 5 points
The California Judges Foundation (CJF) was founded in 1966 as a 501 (c) (3) non-profit, tax-exempt corporation. CJF is administered by the California Judge's Association staff and supervised by a nine-person Board of Directors.
CJF is dedicated to educating the public about the importance of an impartial judiciary for the administration of Justice in California. CJF supports judicial outreach by members of the judiciary to the public. CJF provides grants to help the implementation of judicial outreach programs that our courts and our judges have developed, but which are in need of a funding source.
This year, the CJF wants to encourage high school seniors throughout the state to learn more about the state judiciary and better understand the importance of an independent and impartial judiciary.
The contest will be held in six regions of the state and essays will be read and graded by a team of judicial officers and lawyers in each region. A winner will be selected from each of the six regions and from that group, a grand prize winner will be selected. The grand prize is $5,000 and each runner-up will receive $2,000.
Background Information on California Superior Court Justices
A superior court judge must have been an attorney admitted to practice law in California or have served as a judge of a court of record in the state for at least 10 years immediately preceding election or appointment. To become a superior court judge an attorney can apply for an appointed position with the Governor’s office or run for an elected office. Superior court judges are appointed or elected to serve six-year terms.
For an appointed position, an application must be submitted to the Governor’s office. The Governor’s office carefully reviews the application and the applicant. If it is determined that the applicant is qualified, the application moves on and will undergo a rigorous screening process by the State Bar of California’s Commission on Judicial Nominee Evaluation (JNE). If the applicant receives a high rating from JNE, the applicant’s name is submitted to the Governor for consideration. The Governor will decide if the applicant will be appointed to a vacant judicial position. Generally, vacancies occur when a sitting judge retires in the middle of their term.
An attorney, who meets the eligibility requirements, can run for an open seat or challenge a judge. Generally, the attorney will secure endorsements from suitable constituencies and run a nonpartisan campaign. If an attorney files election papers, and the sitting judge decides to retire, it is considered an open seat race. This scenario may occur when a judge wishing to retire, however, prefers to open the seat for election. When a judge is due for re-election, an eligible attorney may file election papers and contest the judge’s seat. In this case, there would then be a contested county-wide election for that judge’s seat where the incumbent judge would run against any other eligible candidates on the ballot
Any final ruling a Superior Court judge makes may be appealed by the losing party to an appellate court for review.
If any California judge were to be accused of any type of judicial misconduct, the aggrieved party, lawyer, court employee, etc. could report the judge to the Commission on Judicial Performance (CJP), an independent state agency responsible for investigating complaints of judicial misconduct and/or judicial incapacity. The CJP can decide what disciplinary action, if any, should be taken. The discipline can involve a private admonishment of the judge, a public admonishment of the judge or even removal from the bench for extreme misconduct.
ResourcesWhy We Vote for Judges
California Superior Courts
The California Judicial Branch
Welcome to the California Superior Courts
Commission on Judicial Performance
Who can participate? All students enrolled in grade 12 in California public, private and home schools within the State of California. Students must submit original work.
Deadline Essays can be submitted via email beginning January 2, 2019 and no later than midnight on February 28, 2019. Essays must be submitted through this online application.
Format The essays must be between 500-1,000 words (excluding the title, bibliography or footnotes), typed in size 12 font and double spaced. All essays must include a title page with the student's name, high school and essay title. Any quotations or copyrighted material used in the essay must be identified properly. Failure to identify non-original material will result in disqualification.
Research Applicants are invited to research beyond the prompt. As noted in the formatting requirements, proper citation is required for quotations or use of any copyrighted material.
Judging All essays will be reviewed by a panel of judicial officers in the region from which the essay was submitted. the general regions included are: Greater Sacramento Area, Bay Area, Los Angeles, Inland Empire, Orange County and San Diego. Entries received from other areas of the state will be considered and will be reviewed by the nearest region.