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EASTWOOD TO AUTHOR: DO YOU FEEL LUCKY, PUNK? An unauthorized biography that contends Clint Eastwood is an atheist who once “cold-cocked” an ex-wife didn’t make the actor’s day. Eastwood, who lives in Carmel, filed a libel suit on Christmas Eve in U.S. District Court accusing St. Martin’s Press and author Patrick McGilligan of setting out to intentionally destroy his “reputation — both as a maker of motion pictures and as a man.” In Eastwood v. St. Martin’s Press, the actor’s attorney, Santa Monica-based Marshall Grossman, ticks off a list of what the suit calls falsehoods, which, according to book reviewers, create a “sobering analysis of the mismatch between the shabby reality of a man’s life and his shimmering public images.” In “Clint: The Life and Legend,” McGilligan describes Eastwood as a “delinquent” who cut classes during his high school years. The book, according to the suit, also casts “doubt as to whether Eastwood graduated from high school.” McGilligan depicts Eastwood’s first marriage to Maggie Eastwood as physically abusive, describing how he once “decked her” and “knocked her flat on her ass.” According to the suit, McGilligan also inaccurately labels Eastwood an atheist and writes he was “dead scared to go to battle during the Korean conflict” and “used a romantic relationship with an officer’s daughter in order to avoid being sent overseas.” Grossman, a partner with Alschuler Grossman Stein & Kahan, said Eastwood “is looking forward to having this matter resolved in court.” He added, “It’s the only recourse available to him given the conduct of the publisher and author in putting out a book with so many false statements.” Messages seeking comment were left at the St. Martin’s New York office, but a recorded message said offices were closed from Christmas Eve through New Year’s Day. This isn’t the first time Eastwood has created a buzz at the federal court in San Jose. In 2000, Eastwood, who owns a resort in Monterey County, was a defendant in an Americans with Disabilities Act suit. A jury acquitted him of violating ADA laws after a woman who uses a wheelchair sued, saying she was denied access to resort facilities. — Shannon Lafferty RETIREMENTS AHEAD Three Contra Costa County Superior Court judges plan to shed their robes soon. Supervising civil Judge James Trembath and veteran criminal Judge Douglas Cunningham will retire in 2003, and longtime Pittsburg Judge John Allen will retire in January 2004, the jurists confirmed. Gubernatorial appointees will fill all three vacancies. Trembath has been a judge for 12 years and said he’ll miss the intellectual challenge of being a jurist, but he added that he plans to be a private judge. Writing is also on his agenda — Trembath has written for legal reference publishers Bancroft-Whitney and West Group in the past. Cunningham was appointed to the municipal court during the final week of Gov. Jerry Brown’s administration in 1982. He plans to retire shortly after the anniversary of his 20th year on the bench. Cunningham said he loved presiding over intriguing criminal cases, but will exit Jan. 4 and sit on assignment full time until May. After that, he will work part time as a substitute judge “working out of the trunk of my car,” he said with a laugh. Allen is an East County fixture who was appointed to the former Delta Judicial District Municipal Court in 1984. Allen, who presides over civil cases in Pittsburg, isn’t sure whether he will have his own mediation business or if he will work for an established group. The judge said he wants to sit on assignment, but he can’t because new rules bar him from being a private judge and being a courthouse substitute. “I love the courtroom,” Allen said. “It’s really unfortunate.” Jahna Berry HELPFUL HINT: SHUT UP If you’re thinking about suing your employer over a hostile work environment, don’t go bragging about your own sexual exploits in the workplace. That seems to be the lesson from Rieger v. Arnold, 02 C.D.O.S. 12064, decided recently by the Third District Court of Appeal. The case was brought by legal secretary Melanie Rieger of Sacramento’s Law Offices of Clayeo Arnold. Rieger was fired after refusing to accept a pay cut in 1997. Six months later she sued Arnold — who also happened to be her brother-in-law — plus his office manager and the firm, claiming harassment and a hostile work environment. Arnold answered with a hardball defense. He argued Rieger was no shrinking violet offended by off-color talk, but someone who enjoyed sharing tales of her own sexual exploits with colleagues and supervisors. For example, Rieger had boasted of using the conference room table for sexual relations, described the anatomy and sexual proficiency of one of her dates — an expert witness often used by the law firm — and once displayed her bra and underwear at a staff meeting. Rieger’s attorneys argued that this defense unfairly shifted the focus of the case from the defendant to the victim. They pointed out that under Evidence Code �1106, evidence of a victim’s sexual conduct is inadmissible in a harassment action — except for sexual conduct with the “perpetrator.” Unfortunately for Rieger, her suit had named the firm itself as a defendant. Therefore, retired Superior Court Judge John Golden concluded, “perpetrator” included every employee in the workplace. All of that evidence — and quite a bit more — came in. The defense appeared to work. A Sacramento jury rejected most of Rieger’s claims, returning an award of only $15,000. Judge Golden then reduced it to zero on a JNOV motion. On appeal, Rebecca Henry of San Francisco’s Equal Rights Advocates joined Rieger’s attorneys at Novato’s Brayton Purcell in renewing the �1106 argument. The judge’s broad interpretation of perpetrator “served to entirely eviscerate the clear language and intent of �1106,” Henry argued in an amicus curiae brief. But the Third District on Dec. 17 upheld most of Golden’s ruling, saying that in a hostile environment action against a corporation, “perpetrator” includes any employee who is alleged to have contributed to the hostile environment. “The employing entity would otherwise be hamstrung with imputed liability against which it could not effectively defend,” Justice Rodney Davis wrote. — Scott Graham IS ANYBODY LISTENING? The Ninth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals was summarily reversed three times in one day by the U.S. Supreme Court, and it looks like it might be risking reversal again. In an opinion issued last week, the majority seemed to word its decision in a way that clearly acknowledged the high court’s recent message that the Ninth Circuit’s power to review certain decisions is limited. In November, the court issued three unsigned decisions on the same day reversing the Ninth Circuit. Two were habeas corpus appeals from California state courts, as was last week’s case. Even so, one dissenting judge accused the majority of ignoring the message altogether — and of going even further afield than the court had in its three reversals. “The Supreme Court of the United States has just chastised this court, in the strongest possible terms, for substituting our judgment for that of a state court on matters of federal law, including legal issues that involve an interpretation and application of facts,” Judge Susan Graber wrote. “We have even less justification for substituting our judgment for that of a state court on matters of its own state law. Indeed, we wholly lack authority to second-guess a state court on a question of state law.” The appeal involved jury instructions. Gary Bradley, the defendant, argued that he only sold cocaine to a police informant because he was obviously an addict in the throes of withdrawal. Bradley’s defense was entrapment, and he argued that he first told the informant that he neither had any drugs nor sold them. But the judge refused to give the jury an entrapment instruction. A federal judge in Los Angeles agreed that the trial judge erred, as well as two members of Bradley’s Ninth Circuit panel. Senior Judge Warren Ferguson, joined by Judge A. Wallace Tashima, wrote that under state law, Bradley was entitled to the instruction and that the absence of one was a violation of Bradley’s due process rights. In order to do so, the Ninth Circuit had to find that the California courts’ decisions were objectively unreasonable in light of clearly established federal law as determined by the Supreme Court. That much was clear, Ferguson wrote. “The dissent misconstrues the nature of our inquiry under AEDPA. Bradley need not produce a ‘spotted calf’ on the precise issue at hand to warrant habeas relief,” Ferguson wrote. “Rather, it is sufficient that the due process violation involved here offends the principles previously enunciated by Supreme Court precedent and reaffirmed by our case law.” Bradley is serving 25 years to life under California’s Three Strikes law. — Jason Hoppin

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