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As reported in Legal Pad yesterday, they are hearing word that California Supreme Court Justice Carlos Moreno submitted his resignation to Gov. Jerry Brown. A public announcement is expected later this week.

Moreno, 62, joined the court in 2002, succeeding Justice Stanley Mosk. He has been seen as a center-left jurist, and was interviewed by White House lawyers in 2009 for the U.S. Supreme Court seat that ultimately went to Sonia Sotomayor.

Rumors circulated a year ago that Moreno would retire if Brown won election for governor. though the justice squelched them at the time.

Moreno is said to be planning to depart in late February. That means the court will almost certainly have a vacancy for at least several months, if the recent history of judicial appointments in a governor’s first year are any guide.

Whom Brown might appoint to the Supreme Court is a mystery. His Supreme Court picks were famously controversial during his first stint as governor, though he’s seen as having developed a more pragmatic outlook since then. Moreno’s departure will leave the court without any Latinos or Southern Californians. There have been no African-Americans on the court since Janice Brown’s 2005 departure, and no openly gay person has ever served.

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