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CHAPTER 1555, STATUTES OF 1984 - SB 1633

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Code of Civil Procedure sections 170 through 170.5 were enacted, amending prior law on disqualification of judges, in 1984 following legislative passage of Senate Bill 1633.  (See Exhibit A, #1f)  Senate Bill 1633 was introduced on February 8, 1984 by Senator Barry Keene and was sponsored by the California State Bar Association.  (See Exhibit A, #3, #7 and #10)


Senate Bill 1633 was heard by the Senate Committee on Judiciary and the Senate Committee on Finance.  (See Exhibit A, #2 and #3)  On the Assembly side, the bill was heard by the Committee on Judiciary and the Committee on Ways and Means.  (See Exhibit A, #10 and #12)  Four amendments were made to Assembly Bill 1633 as it was considered by the Legislature.  (See Exhibit A, #1b through #1e and #2)  Senate Bill 1633 was approved by the Legislature on August 29, 1984, signed by Governor George Deukmejian on September 29, 1984, and recorded by the Secretary of State on September 30, 1984 as Chapter 1555 of the Statutes of 1984.  (See Exhibit A, #1f and #2)


Senate Bill 1633 proposed the revision of the Code of Civil Procedure provisions for disqualification of trial court judges based on bias or prejudice.  (See Exhibit A, #3, page 1)  The California State Bar Association sponsored the bill after many months of negotiations with the California Judges' Association.  (See Exhibit A, #16a, document A-1)  The bill was represented as having been drafted by both the Bar and the California Judges' Association.  (See Exhibit A, #16a, document A-3)

According to Senator Keene in a letter to Governor Deukmejian, Senate Bill 1633 was needed because the original provisions enacted in 1927 and amended “more than twenty times since then” had been “criticized by everyone including the California Supreme Court as being ‘murky’ and difficult to understand.”  (See Exhibit A, #16a, document A-14)


In this letter, Senator Keene summarized Senate Bill 1633 as follows:


SB 1633 would provide clearer rules as to when a judge should and should not be disqualified, would clarify the procedure to be followed after a statement alleging grounds for disqualification had been filed, and would make various technical changes.

(See Exhibit A, #16a, document A-14)