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COURT: First District Court of Appeal APPOINTED: July 15, 1994, by Gov. Pete Wilson DATE OF BIRTH: Aug. 16, 1948 LAW SCHOOL: Hastings College of the Law (1975) PREVIOUS JUDICIAL EXPERIENCE: Alameda County Superior Court (1991-94), Alameda County Municipal Court (Oakland-Piedmont-Emeryville Judicial District, 1987-91) Lafayette lawyer Howard Janssen has a favorite story about longtime friend Carol Corrigan. It seems the First District Court of Appeal justice was on her way to the podium for a presentation to a roomful of lawyers a while back when she tripped on a wire and fell to the floor. “Everyone’s heart stopped,” Janssen says. “Then you see her head peak up above the desk, and hear her ask, ‘Is there a lawyer in the house?’ “Well, of course, everyone laughed,” the Janssen Doyle partner says, “and she got up and proceeded.” It was vintage Corrigan — able to salvage an awkward moment and put everyone at ease with one quip. It’s that wit and folksy manner friends and colleagues always mention first about Corrigan. But in the same breath, they also say she’s one of the sharpest legal minds in the profession. “She really is one of those superstars,” says San Francisco Superior Court Commissioner Ronald Albers, who chaired the Judicial Nominees Evaluation Commission that recommended Corrigan for the appeal court in 1994. “She makes very good decisions,” he says, “and makes it seem effortless.” Born in Stockton to a librarian mother and a journalist father, Corrigan, 55, was the first in her family to get a college degree. But this being the late ’60s — when few women saw the law as a viable profession — Corrigan contemplated being a history teacher before getting a degree in clinical psychology at St. Louis University. “I’d always been interested in legal issues,” she says, “but never saw myself as a lawyer.” That changed after meeting law students and finding the intellectual exchanges exhilarating. She graduated from Hastings College of the Law in 1975, but not before making lifelong friends, including Gerald “Gerry” Hinkley, who says that he, Corrigan and Chapman, Popik & White partner Susan Popik still get together at least once a month to socialize. “Having spent hours and hours studying with her for exams and the Bar, I was, and continue to be, impressed by her values, her sense of what’s right,” says Hinkley, a partner in the San Francisco office of Seattle’s Davis Wright Tremaine. “We agree about a lot of things, we disagree about a lot of things, but there is mutual respect.” Fellow First District Justice Joanne Parrilli, friends with Corrigan for 29 years, seconds that. Although the two are close enough to banter Fric-and-Frac style during oral arguments — much to the amusement or befuddlement of lawyers — they can really “go at it” if they disagree, Parrilli says. She recalls arguing a case passionately with Corrigan at the busy intersection of Second and Howard streets in downtown San Francisco one day. Passersby didn’t know what to make of it. “When we disagree,” Parrilli says, “it is without apology or shyness.” Corrigan, a former prosecutor and judge in Alameda County, is no shrinking violet on the bench either. She expects lawyers to focus on the primary issue, and if they’re arguing uphill against a line of authority, to acknowledge that and tell the justices how they want to change the law. “What we’re looking for is someone who is willing to engage us and be prepared for the give and take of it,” Corrigan says. “We come with questions we want answered,” she says. “Sometimes we have a notion of how we think the case should go, but we like to test it out on the lawyers.” Corrigan also likes to use that famous wit on lawyers arguing before her, as one found out earlier this month. Badgered by the justices, the man was explaining that he had raised a legal point late in the game partly because his client was in Texas. Corrigan cut him off. “You do still have telephone service between California and Texas, don’t you?” she queried. Point taken. Argument dropped. A different lawyer in an earlier case had made the mistake of answering a question with a question. “Is that a question?” Corrigan asked. “Customarily, we ask the questions, and you give the answers.” Much of Corrigan’s time in the past six years has been devoted to a pet project of Chief Justice Ronald George — helping convert the state’s jury instructions into plain English. Corrigan, who’s been involved with the civil side, says it’s a daunting task, but should help lay jurors better understand their duties. “Our challenge,” Corrigan says, “was to not lose any of the meaning but make [the rules] simpler.” For example, one old instruction said: “Failure of recollection is common. Innocent misrecollection is not uncommon.” The revised wording: “People often forget things or make mistakes in what they remember.” Says Corrigan: “I think it’s going to be a worthwhile undertaking.” Her friend Hinkley puts it another way. “This is going to have a practical impact that is going to affect court proceedings for years and years to come,” he says. “That’ll be her legacy.”

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