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Born: July 22, 1920Appointed: July 18, 1980 by BrownPrevious work of note: L.A. Superior Court judge 1976-1980 (Brown), L.A. Municipal Court judge 1961-1976 (Pat Brown). Private civil practice, 1952-61.Law degree: Southwestern University School of Law (1952)At this stage of her career, Vaino Spencer doesn’t appear particularly interested in making law. Spencer published only a paltry 11 majority opinions between October 1996 and October 1998. Of those 11, five originally were issued unpublished, and published only at the request of the parties or amici curiae. She published only one opinion — a dissent — between June 27, 1996 and April 25, 1997, a period of nearly 10 months.Of course, like all justices, Spencer produces many more unpublished than published opinions — some 200 a year.Division One, over which she presides, is the most efficient division on the Second District. On average it moved cases from brief to decision in 64 days for civil appeals, 52 for criminal.The only African-American woman on the 93-justice court of appeal, Spencer is regarded as one of its more liberal members. She is one of four appellate justices targeted for ouster this fall by a GOP endorsement committee. (The party has never taken an official position on the panel’s recommendation.)On the other hand, she has been endorsed by Los Angeles District Attorney Gil Garcetti and Crime Victims United.Her opinions do not suggest a particular ideological bent. In Potvin v. Metropolitan Life Insurance, 54 Cal.App.4th 936, Spencer ruled that a physician has a common law right to fair procedure before an insurance company can terminate his membership in a health provider network, even when the membership is at will. The Supreme Court granted review in the case. In Murillo v. Rite Stuff Foods, 65 Cal.App.4th 833, Spencer reversed a summary judgment in a sexual harassment suit where the employer had raised the employee’s undocumented alien status under the after-acquired evidence doctrine. But conservatives should have been pleased by her ruling in People v. Hinks, 58 Cal.App.4th 1157, which disagreed with other courts which have held that a principal in a theft can’t be convicted of receiving stolen property.POLITICAL CONTRIBUTIONS: Spencer contributed $100 to Kathleen Brown, the sister of the governor who put her on the appellate bench, for her treasurer’s campaign in 1990 and her gubernatorial campaign in 1994.

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