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If the Democrats need an attack dog in next year’s presidential race, they need look no further than California Attorney General Bill Lockyer. To passionate roars on Saturday before the Conference of Delegates of California Bar Associations, Lockyer, whose gubernatorial aspirations are well known, unholstered all guns on the Bush administration. Dressed casually in a blue shirt and no tie, Lockyer — seen earlier with his wife and new baby — accused the Bush team of raping the environment and shredding consumer protections and liberties at the same time it moves aggressively to pre-empt state regulation. The federal government is now pushing off-shore drilling and forestry practices, he said, that are anathema to environmentalists. Furthermore, Washington, which traditionally stayed on the sideline in fights over air pollution, has now sided with the Detroit automakers, he said. “Shame on them,” he all but shouted. The administration’s fight against terrorism, Lockyer said, has severely eroded civil liberties, but California isn’t going to roll over. “I will be extremely vigilant in protecting California’s civil liberties against federal intrusion,” he said. Lockyer also took a swipe at last week’s California recall debates, calling the event the “gong show.” But, he said, at least all candidates said they approve of medical marijuana. “Unfortunately,” he continued, “the federal government still thinks marijuana and heroin are the same thing.” In fact, he joked, the only items his predecessor, Republican Dan Lungren, left behind in his office “were two copies of ‘Reefer Madness.’” MAN IN MOTION California Chief Justice Ronald George was a ubiquitous presence at the State Bar’s 2003 meeting, making at least three speeches and attending a reception celebrating the impending release of two books of civil jury instructions written in plain, easy-to-read English. At one point, George showed reporters what he called his “dance card,” which was filled with enough appearances to keep the man running all weekend long. At his annual State of the Judiciary address on Saturday before conference delegates, George announced plans to name Bar and court leaders to a task force aimed at promoting stability in court funding. “A fully functioning and accessible system of justice is essential not only for those who appear at the courthouse door,” he said, “but for all of society.” On Friday, George, alongside outgoing State Bar President James Herman, gleefully honored several lawyers and law firms for exceptional pro bono work. “I always look forward to this event,” he said. “The lawyers we honor . . . have helped to provide justice not only for their individual clients, but for our society as a whole.” At the jury instructions reception, George was surprised with the State Bar’s Pride and Profession Award, and immediately said the judges he appointed to the jury instructions task force should get all the credit. “The project’s not done,” he added. “This is just the very important first step.” COURT COFFERS State Sen. Joseph Dunn, a plaintiffs lawyer by trade, warned conference delegates Friday that the courts, while wounded by budget cuts this year, are in for a worse time in 2004. “We’re going to have to find another $8 billion in cuts [across the board],” the Garden Grove Democrat said. “Our ability to keep the courts out of the crosshairs is severely impaired. “Many in politics see the court system as a place they can steal money from,” Dunn continued. “We’re in for the fight of our lives next year.”

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