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Born: January 10, 1932Appointed: July 15, 1994, by Gov. Pete Wilson Previous work of note: Partner, Thelen, Marrin, Johnson & Bridges (now Thelen Reid & Priest)Law degree: University of Michigan Law School, 1956First District Court of Appeal Justice Paul Haerle is a card-carrying Republican, and a prominent one at that.But don’t let the Ronald Reagan photo hanging in his office fool you.Haerle may be one of the more politically connected justices on the bench — he was Reagan’s appointments secretary in the 1960s, chairman of the state Republican Party in the 1970s, and an adviser to senator and then Gov. Pete Wilson in the 1980s and 1990s — but lawyers who know Haerle say it is difficult to pigeonhole him by his politics.“Whether he knows it or not, he’s a Democrat,” says an attorney jokingly.Since being appointed straight to the appellate bench by Wilson in 1994, the former Thelen, Marrin, Johnson & Bridges partner has learned the Penal Code and garnered a reputation for being a sensitive justice and a leader on the First District’s respected Division Two.“He doesn’t have an agenda,” says Jon Eisenberg, an Oakland appellate lawyer and a former First District staff attorney.Eisenberg points out that Haerle and Presiding Justice J. Anthony Kline — both well-connected insiders from opposite sides of the political spectrum — get along very well.Kline agrees with that statement. “The division is stronger than it has ever been.”“It’s a more collegial division than I have ever experienced,” he adds.That’s not to say, of course, that the two don’t have intellectual differences from time to time.That was strikingly apparent last year in Merrill v. Navegar, 75 Cal.App.4th 500, in which Kline’s majority opinion held a gun maker liable for Gian Luigi Ferri’s 1993 shooting spree at 101 California St. — a rampage that left eight people and Ferri dead.Kline’s decision prompted a rare display of passion from the usually low-key Haerle.In a blistering dissent the justice ripped the majority on almost every point and accused Kline of “an egregious exercise in judicial legislation.”Haerle went on to say that Kline had invented a new tort and that his opinion had no support in California law.Navegar, which is pending before the California Supreme Court, remains Haerle’s most famous piece of writing.Still, Haerle says he has nothing but respect for his colleagues. Asked what lawyers should expect when briefing a case in his court, Haerle answers not for himself, but as a member of Division Two.“We are inquisitive, we ask a lot of questions,” he says.Both he and his division are known for giving attorneys ample time to plead their case, and Haerle admits that well-delivered arguments have changed his opinions.As for Haerle’s political connections, he says he hopes that reputation does not overshadow his work on the court. He says there is a difference between politics and judicial philosophy.“I had my time in the political sun, but I practiced heavy-duty civil litigation for more years than that,” Haerle says.

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