A retired Shasta County Superior Court judge has been named the new director of the San Francisco-based state Administrative Office of the Courts.

Steven Jahr, a judge for 22 years until his retirement in 2009, was appointed the incoming director of the AOC by the California Judicial Council in a closed meeting in San Francisco Friday.

The AOC is the staff agency of the Judicial Council, which is the governing body of the state’s court system.

The California system, the largest in the nation, includes 58 county superior courts, six regional appeals court and the state Supreme Court.

Jahr will take office on Oct. 8. He will be the fifth director of the AOC since the agency was created in 1960 and the first to have been a judge.

Jahr was presiding judge of his court for four years and also served on several Judicial Council task forces and committees before and after his retirement. He said he is looking forward to his new job.

“I think I bring a unique perspective to my new role,” Jahr said in a statement.

“As a judge, I’ve worked in criminal and civil matters, as well as family law. I understand the world of the courtroom. As a former presiding judge, I know and appreciate that taking care of the administrative side of a courtroom helps make a judge succeed,” he said.

Chief Justice Tani Cantil-Sakauye, who chairs the Judicial Council, said, “I am enormously pleased that Judge Jahr has agreed to accept this critical position.”

The AOC manages courthouse construction and maintenance, conducts education and training programs for judges and court staff and provides staff support for the Judicial Council and its task forces and committees, among other services.

The recent deep cuts in statewide court funding that have caused court staff reductions, shorter hours and closures of some courtrooms have also affected the AOC.

Interim AOC Director Jody Patel announced earlier this week that the agency’s staff has been reduced by 277 during the past 12 months to a current total of 844 employees.

The reduction was achieved through a combination of layoffs, voluntary departures and retirement, she said.

Court of Appeal Justice Harry Hull of Sacramento, who chaired the Judicial Council’s search committee, said, “After reviewing candidates from all over the country, we eventually found the very best candidate in our own backyard,

“Judge Jahr is well known and well liked by many judges throughout the state,” Hull said.
California courts employ more than 2,000 judges and commissioners and 21,000 other court staff members, according to the council.

Julia Cheever, Bay City News

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