Civic Center complex renamed for state Chief Justice George

In the grand bureaucratic tradition of naming public works projects and buildings after individuals who have made significant contributions, part of San Francisco’s Civic Center is about to be rebranded in the name of the state’s outgoing judiciary leader.

Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger announced Tuesday that San Francisco’s Civic Center Complex shall henceforth be known as the Ronald M. George State Office Complex, so named for outgoing Chief Justice Ronald George.

The executive order cites George’s track record as “a superbly effective leader” as merit for renaming the complex.

The San Francisco Civic Center Complex includes both the Hiram M. Johnson State Office Building and the Earl Warren Building, both of which are located just north of Civic Center Plaza between McAllister Street and Golden Gate Avenue.

The complex houses the state Supreme Court, the state Judicial Council, and the courts’ administrative office, among other state offices and agencies.

The two buildings within the complex will retain their individual names.

Serving as the state’s 27th chief justice, George took the helm of California’s judicial branch in 1996 when he was appointed by Gov. Pete Wilson.

“Chief Justice Ron George has been a dedicated and honorable servant to the state of California throughout his entire career,” Schwarzenegger said in a statement Tuesday. “I could not think of a more distinct honor to bestow upon Chief Justice George than naming [the complex] after him.”

George is credited with the unification of the trial courts, establishment of state funding for trail court operations, increased efficiency through transfer of courthouses to state ownership, and improvement of the jury system.

Beginning his legal career in the state Attorney General’s Office in 1965, George argued 11 cases before the California Supreme Court and six cases before the U.S. Supreme Court.

In 1972, then-Gov. Ronald Reagan appointed George to the Los Angeles County Municipal Court.

Five years later, George made the move to the state Superior Court for Los Angeles County when he was appointed by Gov. Jerry Brown.

According to the executive order, George “has been a driving force behind policies to increase access to justice” because of his creation of family court self-help centers for unrepresented litigants, pro bono services, interpreter services, public funding for legal services, and plain English jury instructions.

George obtained his Bachelor of Arts from Princeton University and a law degree from Stanford Law School. His current term will end on Jan. 2, 2011, and he has chosen not to seek re-election.

Arnold SchwarzeneggerBay Area NewsLocalSan Francisco

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