Assembly Speaker Antonio R. Villaraigosa has appointed Ramona Ripston, executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Southern California, to the state Commission on Judicial Performance. The eleven-member commission is an independent state agency that handles complaints about California judges involving judicial misconduct or wrongdoing. The commission has authority over active judges and also over former judges for their conduct before retirement from the bench. Commissioners receive no salary but are reimbursed for the expense of serving on the commission.
In a statement released July 17, Speaker Villaraigosa said, "Ramona Ripston is a long-time defender of civil rights and a champion of justice. Her extensive experience with the state's judicial system, along with her professional integrity, make her an excellent choice for this commission. She will act in the very best interest for all Californians."
Ramona Ripston has served as the executive director of the ACLU of Southern California since August of 1972, except for a period of 18 months beginning in January of 1986, when she became a Vice-President in charge of the Western Region of People for the American Way.
Under her leadership, the ACLU of Southern California has become the busiest of all 53 national ACLU affiliates, with a docket of more than 100 active cases, a 35-member staff, and a membership of nearly 30,000.
She holds positions on the boards of a number of organizations, including the Board of Visitors of Southwestern University of Law, the First Amendment Foundation, and Human Rights Watch. She received an honorary Doctor of Law degree from the University of West Los Angeles School of Law and has received numerous honors and awards from civil rights organizations.
In 1969 Ms. Ripston was a co-founder of the National Association for the Repeal of Abortion Laws which became the National Abortion Rights Action League following the historic 1973 Roe vs Wade guaranteeing a woman's right to reproductive freedom.
Prior to coming to the ACLU of Southern California, Ms. Ripston held positions with the ACLU National office an the New York and New Jersey affiliates. In addition, she was the Director of Public Affairs for the New York Urban Coalition. She majored in Political Science at Hunter College in New York.
Ms. Ripston speaks extensively on the First Amendment, reproductive freedom, the Voting Rights Act, affirmative action, poverty and civil liberties, police practices and the constitution.
She is married to Judge Stephen Reinhardt of the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals.