Ronald George, California’s chief justice since 1996 and author of the ruling that briefly legalized same-sex marriage in the state, will retire in January – a surprise announcement that allows Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger to choose his successor, says the San Francisco Chronicle. George, 70, has been a judge for 38 years and a member of the state Supreme Court since Gov. Pete Wilson appointed him in 1991. He has been conservative in criminal cases, particularly capital cases, moderate to liberal on civil rights and other social issues, and typically at the ideological center of his court.
He also engineered rules simplifying jury instructions and making court procedures more accessible to the public and the news media. A possible successor is Justice Carol Corrigan, Schwarzenegger’s lone appointee. Corrigan, 61, is a former Alameda County prosecutor with a moderately conservative record since joining the court in 2006.