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Speculation that Gov. Gray Davis is preparing to pack the bench if he’s recalled continues to swirl now that two more of his top advisers have submitted their names to become judges. The governor’s office has forwarded to the Judicial Nominees Evaluation Commission the names of Barry Goode, Davis’ legal affairs secretary, and Jeremiah Hallisey, a partner at San Francisco’s Hallisey & Johnson and one of Davis’ top fund raisers. Their applications join that of Burt Pines, Davis’ appointments secretary. The governor’s office denies Davis has stepped up the pace of appointments since the recall became a reality. Even so, Republican lawyers say they wouldn’t be surprised if Davis tried to fill as many of the 45 vacancies in superior and appeal courts as he can in coming weeks. Republican and Democratic lawyers also say the three applications could be a sign that the governor’s allies aren’t as confident as they once were that Davis will beat the recall. “I wouldn’t say they’re losing hope. [But] I think it’s indicative of maybe having a reality check,” said Thomas Hiltachk, a partner at Bell, McAndrews, Hiltachk & Davidian, a Sacramento law firm that represents the California Republican Party and has been active in litigation over the recall. Hallisey said he hasn’t given up on the governor. Davis may be behind in the polls, but Hallisey believes the governor’s Democratic base will come back to support him as the Oct. 7 election draws closer. He said he’s had it in mind for some time that he might want to be a judge, but admitted the recall played into his decision to apply now. Although he still hasn’t decided whether he actually wants to wear the black robes, Hallisey said the recall is forcing him to make a “more immediate decision.” “I’m doing it long term. If the governor is successful in defending the recall, I would probably wait another year,” Hallisey said. “I suspect the chances of a Republican appointing me are remote,” Hallisey said. Goode and Pines did not return calls seeking comment. Goode joined the administration as legal affairs secretary in 2001. Before that, President Clinton nominated him to the Ninth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals, but his nomination died after the Senate Judiciary Committee declined to take it up. Pines has been in the administration since the beginning of Davis’ first term, when he left Alschuler Grossman & Pines in Century City. He had also served as Los Angeles city attorney. Hallisey is hosting a fund raiser Thursday at the Fairmont Hotel in San Francisco and expects between 250 to 300 people to donate at least $500,000 to help Davis. Bay Area judges recently received letters saying Goode and Hallisey were being considered for appointments to San Francisco and Contra Costa superior courts. Goode is also being considered for the First District Court of Appeal, although there currently aren’t any vacancies in that court. “Midnight” decisions — appointments made as an officeholder leaves — aren’t unheard of in the California governor’s office. Davis will have as long as 28 days past the Oct. 7 vote, depending on how long it takes Secretary of State Kevin Shelley to certify the election. But that means prospective judges will have to get their names in now. JNE has up to 90 days to evaluate applicants, which it must do before the governor can name someone to the bench. The commission provides the governor with a rating for each candidate, though the governor is free to appoint someone rated as unqualified. State Bar spokesman E.J. Bernacki could not say how many applications are pending. The JNE commission meets today, Sept. 12 and Oct. 3. Figuring out whether Davis has stepped up judicial appointments since the recall isn’t easy. Appointments typically come in waves, and it’s difficult to tie them to events outside the governor’s office. Davis has made 45 appointments so far this year. Last year, he made 90. That makes the governor’s per-month average for 2003 is 5.3 appointments, less than last year’s 7.5 appointments per month. Fourth District Court of Appeal Justice James Ward, who chaired the JNE Commission in the 1980s and helped reform it in the mid-1990s, said Davis has taken too much flak for his appointments. “It’s the governor’s prerogative to appoint, and he can do it fast or slow. Davis is very thorough about it,” Ward said. Even though Hiltachk, the Republican lawyer, believes the timing of the recent appointments is becoming “less and less coincidental,” he doesn’t criticize Davis for using his power. “There’s nothing wrong with midnight appointments,” Hiltachk said.

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