Changes announced at judges meeting

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Changes announced at judges meeting By Quintin Cushner — Staff Writer 5/20/04 Superior Court Judge William McLafferty has been elected by his peers as assistant presiding judge of the Santa Barbara County courts. He will take over in January for Superior Court Judge Rodney Melville, who begins a two-year stint as presiding judge that month. McLafferty, who has served on the bench since being appointed in 1997, was unanimously selected by the 19 Superior Court judges at a meeting in Solvang on Wednesday, according to Gary Blair, executive officer of the court. Melville, who is now the assistant presiding judge, is a veteran North County jurist who is officiating over the Michael Jackson child-molestation case. He has twice before served as presiding judge, from 1993 to 1995 and 2001-02. Clifford Anderson will serve as presiding judge until his term ends in December. Santa Barbara County is organized so that the assistant presiding judge automatically takes over for the presiding judge every two years. The assistant presiding and presiding judges are selected from alternate ends of the county, so that leadership is fairly distributed, Blair said. Presiding judges are in charge of courts administration, which covers everything from assigning cases to overseeing monthly judges meetings. The assistant presiding judge fills in for the presiding judge and is in charge of courts administration in his or her area of the county. Also on Wednesday, Judge James B. Jennings officially announced to his fellow judges that he is retiring from the bench in June, Blair said. Jennings, who is overseeing a criminal courtroom in Santa Maria, was elected to the Santa Maria Municipal Court in 1980. He was appointed in 1983 to the Superior Court by then-Gov. George Deukmejian. Staff writer Quintin Cushner can be reached at 739-2217 or by e-mail at :nav Source:

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