California

Appellate judge who gave Newsom massive COVID powers sacked for delaying cases

The presiding justice of the California appeals court in Sacramento has retired as part of a punishment announced Wednesday for delays in deciding 200 cases over a decade that cost litigants money and some criminal defendants their freedom.

Justice Vance Raye agreed to step down from the Third District Court of Appeal as part of a public admonishment for excessive delays that lasted years in some cases, the Commission on Judicial Performance said.

“Justice Raye engaged in a pattern of delay in deciding a significant number of appellate cases over a lengthy period,” the commission said. “He failed to encourage and adopt reasonable procedures to ensure that priority and older cases were decided first.”

While there was a high volume of cases in the court, the commission said that alone couldn’t explain the delays because not all justices had similar backlogs.

Raye authored a unanimous opinion a year ago upholding Gov. Gavin Newsom’s use of emergency powers to make far-reaching policies during the COVID-19 pandemic. The opinion overturned a lower court finding that the Democrat had done too much unilaterally.

Newsom, who is up for reelection this year, can appoint Raye’s successor.

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Staff reports from The San Joaquin Valley Sun staff.