Pickens v. Johnson
|01 March 1954
|California Supreme Court
|PICKENS et ux. v. JOHNSON et ux. JOHNSON et ux. v. PICKENS et ux. Sac. 6378.
F. H. Bowers, Roseville, and Thomas F. Sargent, Auburn, for appellants.
McAllister & Johnson and Walter C. Frame, Sacramento, for respondents.
This is an appeal from judgments in favor of the Johnsons, husband and wife, for $4,500 and $15,400, respectively, in actions consolidated for trial and on appeal.
The Pickens, husband and wife, commenced an action in Sacramento County, for declaratory relief involving their rights under a lease from the Pickens to the Johnsons of premises owned by the Pickens. Their rights under a contract of conditional sale of the business and equipment on the premises leased by the Pickens from the Johnsons were also involved. The Johnsons brought an action in the same court against the Pickens for damages for the forcible entry and unlawful detainer of the premises. The actions were consolidated for trial and tried without a jury.
Before approaching the merits of the appeal a preliminary constitutional question raised by the Pickens must be disposed of.
The cases were tried before the Honorable J. O. Moncur who was elected in 1944 as judge of the superior court of Plumas County for the full term of six years. He discharged the duties of that office until the last day of his term (Jan. 8, 1951) when he retired pursuant to the provisions of the Judges' Retirement Act, Stats.1937, p. 2204. At the time this consolidated action was tried Judge Moncur was sitting in the superior court of Sacramento County pursuant to an assignment to that task by the chairman of the judicial council as provided in section 6 of the act as amended in 1951. Stats.1951, p. 3694. At the time of the assignment that section provided, and still provides, in its pertinent parts as follows:
It is the contention of the Pickens that the foregoing section of the Judges' Retirement Act is unconstitutional and that any judgment rendered by Judge Moncur while under assignment is void.
As authority for the adoption of the Judges' Retirement Act and particularly section 6 as amended in 1951, reliance is placed on section 22a of article IV of the constitution adopted in 1930. The pertinent parts of that section are as follows:
Under the authority of the foregoing constitutional section the legislature in 1931 enacted the statute establishing a system for the retirement of the employees of the state, Stats. 1931, p. 1442, and it has been in continuous operation since that time.
In 1948 the question was presented to this court whether section 22a of article IV of the constitution conferred upon the legislature the power to provide a retirement system for its own members. It was held in the case of Knight v. Board of Administration of the State Employees' Retirement System, 32 Cal.2d 400, 196 P.2d 547, 5 A.L.R.2d 410, that section 22a was an enabling act; that the term 'employees' included officers of the state; that members of the legislature were officers of the state, and that under the section the legislature was authorized to establish a retirement system for its members as provided for in the Legislators' Retirement Law of 1947. Govt.Code, § 9350 et seq.; Stats.1947, p. 2058. The validity of that statute was upheld by unanimous decision of this court.
There can be no doubt that section 22a as construed in the Knight case was and is an enabling provision of the constitution authorizing the legislature to provide a system for the retirement of the members of the judicial department of the state embraced within the Judges' Retirement Law. In fact there is here no contention to the contrary. That act, as stated, was adopted in 1937. Section 6 was then in its present form with the exception of a provision added by amendment in 1951. The section was first amended in 1941, Stats.1941, p. 2938, to provide that there must be a stipulation in the case by all counsel that the retired judge could act. In 1951 the section was again amended by unanimous vote of both houses of the legislature. Assembly Daily Journal, May 18, 1951, p. 4501; Senate Daily Journal, June 16, 1951, p. 3462. By that amendment the requirement of a stipulation of counsel was eliminated and a provision added for compensation to the retired judge while under assignment based on the difference between his retirement allowance and the compensation of a judge of the court to which he is assigned. Stats.1951, p. 3694.
For a period of fifteen years and over, and until the judgment in this case in August, 1952, the system of assignment of retired judges to try cases in the superior court has been in operation without objection.
Thus, at all times since the enactment of the Judges' Retirement Act in 1937 section 6 thereof has contained the provision that a retired judge should be a judicial officer of the state and also the provision granting to the legislature power 'from time to time' to 'change the requirements and conditions for retirement'. This the legislature has done in the two instances mentioned and the question is whether the conditions in the original enactment and those subsequently incorporated in it were within the power of the legislature to enact. If it be concluded that they bear a reasonable relation to a system of retirement of judges and do not offend any provision of the constitution they should be upheld. It is our conclusion that they are valid from both standpoints.
This type of legislation, both constitutional and statutory, is not new in this state. The Public Utilties Commission has been established under a constitutional enabling act with full power conferred on the legislature to enact legislation even contrary to any other provisions of the constitution, provided it be cognate and germane to the regulation and control of Public Utilities. Const. § 22, Art. XII; Pacific Telephone, etc. Co. v. Eshleman, 166 Cal. 640, 137 P. 1119, 50 L.R.A.,N.S., 652. Likewise the Industrial Accident Commission has been set up under an enabling act whereby the legislature is expressly vested with plenary power 'unlimited by any provision of this Constitution, to create, and enforce a complete system of workmen's compensation * * *.' Const. § 21, Art. XX; Western Metal Supply Co. v. Pillsbury, 172 Cal. 407, 156 P. 491.
Under the foregoing enabling acts the legislature has enacted laws which, as interpreted by the courts, are controlling, as to the subjects properly legislated upon, over other general provisions of the constitution and gengeral laws.
So here the constitution has in general terms conferred upon the legislature the power to establish a system for the retirement of judges. The legislature has done so and has imposed as a condition of retirement that retired judges, so long as they receive retirement allowances, shall continue to be judicial officers of the state and with their permission shall be subject to call for judicial service by assignment for the purpose by the chairman of the Judicial Council.
It would seem to be beyond question that the provision for the assignment and service of a retired judge in accordance with the statute bears a reasonable relationship to a system of judges' retirement. It is inherently connected with the problems of the administration of justice under which the state, in consideration for the retirement allowance, may invoke the assistance of the retired personnel of the judicial department in emergencies found to exist by the chairman of the Judicial Council. Nothing foreign to that purpose could have been in contemplation by the legislature.
It is recognized that the constitutional grant of power to the legislature to establish the two commissions above referred to is much more comprehensive than that contained in section 22a of article IV, and it is taken for granted that any legislation adopted under the authority of that section must not be inconsistent with other provisions of the constitution.
There is no provision of the constitution which would prohibit the legislature from providing, as it has in section 6, that so long as he receives a retirement allowance a retired judge shall be a judicial officer of the state. Section 1 of article VI which provides that the judicial power of the state shall be vested in the senate, sitting as a court of impeachment, and in the several courts, including the superior court, deals with the question of the official entities in which the judicial power of the state shall be vested and hot with the personnel of those institutions....
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Mahler v. Judicial Council of Cal.
...TAJP has its roots in the original Judges’ Retirement Act, Stats. 1937, page 282 Cal.Rptr.3d 38 2204. ( Pickens v. Johnson (1954) 42 Cal.2d 399, 402, 267 P.2d 801 ( Pickens ).) By 1951, section 6 of the Judges’ Retirement Act, provided that: " ‘Justices and judges retired under the provisio......
Marine Forests Society v. California Coastal Commission, S113466 (CA 6/23/2005), S113466
...if he were the officer legally elected and qualified for the office and in full possession of it.' [Citations.]" (See also Pickens v. Johnson (1954) 42 Cal.2d 399, 410 ["There is no question but that . . . the status of a judge de facto attached to his action. The office to which he was ass......
Mahler v. Judicial Council of Cal.
...Judges ProgramThe TAJP has its roots in the original Judges’ Retirement Act, Stats. 1937, page 2204. ( Pickens v. Johnson (1954) 42 Cal.2d 399, 402, 267 P.2d 801 ( Pickens ).) By 1951, section 6 of the Judges’ Retirement Act, provided that: " ‘Justices and judges retired under the provision......
Marine Forests Soc. v. CAL. COASTAL COM'N
...the officer legally elected and qualified for the office and in full possession of it.' [Citations.]" (See also Pickens v. Johnson (1954) 42 Cal.2d 399, 410, 267 P.2d 801 ["There is no question but that ... the status of a judge de facto attached to his action. The office to which he was as......