The process of electing California appeals court jurists can be downright confusing. Justices on the Fifth District Court of Appeal, which is housed in downtown Fresno, do not have opponents; voters simply vote “yes” or “no” on whether they should serve another term. If a majority votes “no,” it would be sayonara for that judge.
The Bee strongly recommends that the Fifth District justices on the Nov. 6 ballot be retained. All have been subjected to a rigorous screening prior to being appointed by the governor and confirmed by a three-person state commission. They are the best of the best as chosen by the legal community.
The Fifth District handles cases that are appealed from Superior Courts in Fresno, Kern, Kings, Madera, Mariposa, Merced, Stanislaus, Tulare and Tuolumne counties.
Two Fifth District justices — Chuck Poochigian and Donald Franson — are seeking new terms. Both Poochigian (confirmed in 2009) and Franson (2010) were appointed by former Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger.
Four justices are facing voters for the first time: Bruce Smith (confirmed in 2014), Kathleen Meehan (2017), Mark Snauffer (2018) and Thomas DeSantos (2018). All were appointed by Gov. Jerry Brown.
Don’t fret over this part of the ballot. Each of these highly qualified judges deserve your “yes” vote on Nov. 6.