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News: California Supreme Court Justice Janice Rogers Brown files the lone dissent from an opinion upholding a rape conviction. Brown argues there was insufficient evidence that a teen-ager had withdrawn her consent. Comment: Whether you agree or disagree, this ought to put to rest the notion that Brown is angling for appointment to the U.S. Supreme Court. News: The 6th District Court of Appeal has had a vacancy for more than a year, but Gov. Gray Davis’ appointments secretary, Burt Pines, apparently is still searching for the ideal candidate. Comment: Has he considered Santa Clara County Superior Court Judge Marc Poch�? We hear he has some experience with appellate law. News: Judge Alex Kozinski, ridiculing a defense argument in an Internet theft case, writes: “It’s a bit as if Judge Reinhardt sent a letter to the DMV saying, ‘Judge Kozinski wants to transfer title to his Lamborghini to me — he’d write to you himself, but he’s out of stamps.’” Comment: It’s doubtful that Stephen Reinhardt actually drives a Lamborghini. But if he does, it certainly doesn’t help Chief Justice William Rehnquist’s latest push for a judicial pay raise. News: California Supreme Court upholds the death sentence of Larry Roberts for a 1980 jailhouse killing, even though three prosecution witnesses have since recanted their testimony. Justice Carlos Moreno’s opinion points out that one of the recanters, Raybon Long, has since recanted his recantation. “Because [he] has made inconsistent declarations, it is clear that he has lied at some point,” Moreno acknowledges. “It is not clear, however, that it was Long’s trial testimony that was false, rather than his initial recantation.” Comment: That death penalty moratorium idea is sounding better and better all the time. News: Former Alameda County Public Defender Jay Gaskill reveals in an Oakland Tribune op-ed piece that he supports the death penalty, and in fact thinks it should be applied more broadly. Comment: Even better still. News: Alameda County supervisors, apparently without consulting superior court judges, name Sheriff Charles Plummer interim chief probation officer. Technically, his deputies will be recommending the sentences to be served by defendants who’ve been arrested by his deputies. Comment: Conflicts, schmonflicts. News: Second District Court of Appeal decides heart-wrenching case of Cruze v. National Psychiatric Services, 03 C.D.O.S. 183, in which a terminally ill woman, depressed about having lost her job, her apartment and her boyfriend, confides in her doctor that she is having suicidal thoughts. The doctor responds by ordering her locked up for suicide watch. The woman sues for false imprisonment — but in a 3-0 ruling she loses her case. Comment: No word yet on whether her lawyer has stolen from her client trust account as well. News: In an apparent jab at her successor, outgoing San Francisco Public Defender Kim Burton grants her three top deputies up to a month each in paid vacation. Incoming PD Jeff Adachi says this will exacerbate the office’s caseload problems and block him from immediately hiring his own management team Comment: But what Burton really cares about is the clients. News: Santa Barbara Superior Court Judge Diana Hall is arrested for drunken driving after sheriff’s deputies respond to a disturbance at her home. Comment: What is it about Santa Barbara judges? Between deflating tires, reading crystal balls and suing for defamation it seems they shouldn’t have enough time for drunken driving. News: A unanimous Santa Monica jury returns a $156 million compensatory damage award — $100 million more than was requested — in a fraud case against NORCAL Mutual Insurance Co. of San Francisco. The jury also makes a finding of malice, but the insurer decides to settle before the punitive damages phase. Comment: Come on, why not roll the dice? News: Third District Court of Appeal declares the California Coastal Commission unconstitutional. The plaintiff that brings it down is the Marine Forests Society, an environmental group that had wanted to build an artificial reef off the coast of Newport Beach. Comment: An environmental group bringing down the Coastal Commission? Why, it’s as if the public defender came out in favor of the death penalty . . .

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