Monday, June 25 , 2018, 7:32 am | Overcast 62º

 
 
 
 

Local News

Succession Plan for Judge McLafferty Undecided

The Superior Court position could be filled by an election or gubernatorial appointment

A replacement for Santa Barbara County Superior Court Judge William McLafferty, who died Friday after complications from a December lung surgery, could be decided by an election or gubernatorial appointment, trial courts executive officer Gary Blair said.

McLafferty, who was 70 when he died, presided over criminal and civil cases for 12 years and was planning to run for re-election to a third six-year term this June.

The candidacy announcement period is in early February, but it’s highly unusual for anyone to oppose an incumbent, Blair said.

“No one challenges an incumbent in good standing,” he said. “No one in their right mind.”

According to staff, the county elections office is still looking into whether the position will be filled by an election or appointment, as McLafferty was expected to come back to work fairly soon.

Retired local judge Rick Brown has been sitting in on a daily basis since the beginning of January and will continue to fill in until January 2011, when the new judge will take his or her seat on the bench.

If it comes to an election, it’ll be a wide-open race, Blair said.

“We may see people emerge from the woodwork,” he said.

The position could appear on the June ballot, and if it comes down to a runoff during that election, it will go to November’s general election. The in-lieu petition period — during which candidates can reduce the filing fee 25 cents per registered voter signature — already has begun for the June election, Blair said.

Trial court judges have six-year terms and open elections, while appellate court judges get 12-year terms and retention votes (yes or no). There are no term limits.

Check back with Noozhawk for updates on this story.

Noozhawk staff writer Giana Magnoli can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).

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