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With Arnold Schwarzenegger assembling his transition team, lawyers are trying to figure out how the actor-turned-politician will shape the judiciary and deal with legislation affecting the business of being an attorney. Everyone agrees that the short recall campaign — which was focused so much on the economy — did not present much opportunity to explore these issues. Tort reform was part of the governor-elect’s platform but his ideas were vague and played a tiny part in Schwarzenegger’s overall vision of making California more business-friendly. What sort of judges and appellate justices Schwarzenegger will appoint in the next three years is an even bigger unknown. “We just don’t know what he thinks about the role of the judiciary,” said Clark Kelso, a McGeorge School of Law professor who once served under Gov. Gray Davis. Figuring that out will be easier once Schwarzenegger announces who will be his judicial appointments secretary, a detail that wasn’t included in his announcement of a transition team Wednesday. Chip Nielsen of Nielsen, Merksamer, Parrinello, Mueller & Naylor, the political firm with offices in San Francisco, Sacramento and Marin, said he hoped Schwarzenegger brings in someone who has been part of “the legal process” in the state and has spent their entire lives within the legal system. He pointed to Davis’ appointments secretary, Burt Pines, as an example. Pines was Los Angeles city attorney and a partner at Alschuler Grossman & Pines in Century City. Appointments under him have generally been well received by Democrats and Republicans. Pines now has his name in to become a judge. “That kind of person would be very acceptable and soothing to California lawyers,” said Nielsen, who did not have a role in the recall but represented Schwarzenegger last year, when he pushed his education initiative, Proposition 49. Because of former Gov. Pete Wilson’s post as Schwarzenegger’s campaign adviser, there’s been a lot of talk about former Wilson people getting jobs with Schwarzenegger, including appointments and legal affairs secretaries. One of Wilson’s judicial appointments people, John Davies, said he had not been in touch with the Schwarzenegger campaign. He’s now of counsel at Allen Matkins Leck Gamble & Mallory in San Diego. Although less influential on the judiciary, the legal affairs secretary post proved a great door-opener for lawyers in the Wilson years. State Supreme Court Justice Janice Rogers Brown and Third District Court of Appeal Justice Daniel Kolkey both served in that capacity under Wilson. Before the recall, the influential trial lawyers lobbying group, the Consumer Attorneys of California, had warned of judicial doom under Schwarzenegger and a return to Wilson’s lack of diversity on the superior court bench. Wednesday, CAOC President Bruce Brusavich, of Torrance’s Agnew & Brusavich, said he was disappointed but toned down his earlier criticism. He said he was encouraged by Schwarzenegger’s acceptance speech because he pledged a bipartisan administration. Brusavich worked hard to keep Schwarzenegger out of office, raising nearly $2 million from trial lawyers for Davis and Lt. Gov. Cruz Bustamante. The lawyer closed out the campaign by attending Bustamante’s election night party at Sacramento’s Sheraton Grand Hotel. Even with the early indications he’d lost the recall vote, Bustamante tried to stay upbeat by focusing on the defeat of Prop 54, Brusavich said. Still, Brusavich admitted that the gathering was “depressing.” Besides the possibility of judges who are unfriendly to the plaintiffs bar, Brusavich and his ilk may be also depressed about Schwarzenegger using his new position to help business interests modify California’s unfair competition law. In this year’s legislative session, the CAOC successfully blocked Republicans and moderate Democrats who wanted to substantially change the law, Business and Professions Code � 17200. Business groups now want to circumvent the Democrat-controlled Legislature and plan to introduce a voter initiative as early as this fall in order to qualify for a 2004 ballot. Although Schwarzenegger’s campaign did not provide much detail about the governor-elect’s tort reform plans, he does support changing 17200. The Civil Justice Association of California, which is backing the initiative, has already been in touch with Schwarzenegger’s people, said Jeff Sievers, CJAC vice president. Brusavich conceded that having the new governor behind an initiative would make it more difficult to defeat, but, he said, “June of 2004 is a long time away, and Arnold could lose his spotlight real quick.” Besides the initiative, Sievers is counting on the new governor to provide what he believes is a much-needed check to the trial lawyers’ influence in Sacramento. “There won’t be the blank check that there has been for the last five years,” Sievers said. Although trial lawyers disagree with that characterization, they are very happy with Davis, who has given the nod to many judges with plaintiffs backgrounds and supported plaintiffs-friendly legislation, Brusavich said. Brusavich expects Davis will sign three more plaintiffs-supported bills — one modifying the statute of limitations in toxic torts, one prohibiting pre-dispute arbitration in labor contracts, and one allowing causes of action for labor code violations — before he leaves office. As for judicial picks, Davis was criticized early in his first term for conservative picks that reflected his tough-on-crime beliefs. But that has since changed. Indeed, if anything, his recent rush of judicial appointments has a pro-plaintiffs bent. Of the seven appointments announced Wednesday, three are former trial lawyers. Although Davis’ office has denied the governor is trying to pack the bench before he leaves, his recent push has left no vacancies in the appellate courts for the first time in recent memory and less than 20 vacancies in superior courts. Brusavich said he hoped Davis fills all judicial vacancies before he leaves. Davis must leave office by Nov. 15, though he may depart before that date. That wouldn’t leave Schwarzenegger much to do in the judiciary right away. However, if things go well for Justice Brown with her nomination to the D.C. Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals, the actor will be able to fill her slot. Gerald Uelmen , a professor at Santa Clara University School of Law, said Schwarzenegger likely would look to Third District Court of Appeal Justice Vance Raye to fill Brown’s shoes. He’s Republican and would “maintain the black presence” on the bench, Uelmen said. Other possibilities include Third District Presiding Justice Arthur Scotland, and Sixth District Justice Patricia Bamattre-Manoukian, who were both considered by Wilson for Supreme Court seats.

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