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TRACKING THE BACKING OF JANICE ROGERS BROWN During last week’s Senate confirmation hearing for Janice Rogers Brown, Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, went out of his way to note that Boalt Hall School of Law professor Stephen Barnett had joined 14 other California law professors endorsing Brown. His implication: Even a Berkeley liberal thinks the conservative California Supreme Court justice would be good for the D.C. Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals. Well, that was before Barnett, an expert on the state Supreme Court, watched the televised hearing. On Thursday, one day after the proceeding, Barnett sent a letter to Hatch — with a copy to Sen. Dianne Feinstein — renouncing his support for Brown. He said he was deeply disturbed by the content of Brown’s speeches, which Democratic senators tore apart Wednesday. “Those speeches, with their government bashing and their extreme and outdated ideological positions, put Justice Brown outside the mainstream of today’s constitutional law,” Barnett wrote Hatch. Barnett said he still admires Brown’s rulings and believes judicial nominees should be allowed to speak on controversial topics. “But that does not give them a free pass from accountability for what they say,” he wrote. “To hear the views in these speeches expressed by a potential member of either the D.C. Circuit or the Supreme Court is just too scary.” Barnett expanded on his thoughts during a telephone interview, saying he thought Brown was “embarrassingly inarticulate” in defending herself at the hearing, and that her speeches, in particular, espoused views that were “indefensible.” “They make her the epitome of the judge who is outside the mainstream,” he said, “and she failed to explain or disavow them in any persuasive way.” Meanwhile, during the Senate Judiciary Committee hearing, Hatch also mentioned that a dozen of Brown’s former and current colleagues had signed a letter of support. The letter was circulated by former Brown colleague Robert Puglia, a retired presiding justice of Sacramento’s Third District Court of Appeal. “We who have worked with [Brown] on a daily basis know her to be extremely intelligent, keenly analytical and very hard working,” Puglia wrote. “We know that she is a jurist who applies the law without favor, without bias and with an even hand.” The letter was signed by eight Third District justices, including current Presiding Justice Arthur Scotland and by current California Supreme Court Justices Marvin Baxter, Ming Chin and Carlos Moreno. According to the letter, Justice Joyce Kennard sent the Senate a separate letter of support. Justice Kathryn Mickle Werdegar and Chief Justice Ronald George, citing longstanding policies of not endorsing any judicial nominees, remained silent, although, according to the letter, they do not oppose Brown. Endorsing judicial candidates is “an inadvisable thing from my standpoint,” George said Thursday. “I adopted that policy years ago, and it has stood me well and, frankly, it would be unfair for people if I made an exception.” — Mike McKee THE SWINGMAN SPEAKS U.S. Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy was at Stanford University on Oct. 18 for alumni weekend, the star attraction of a panel dubbed “We the People.” In return, the court’s frequent swing vote got a dose of Stanford liberalism. Outgoing law school Dean Kathleen Sullivan was twice interrupted during her introduction by rousing applause from the packed Memorial Auditorium — once when she mentioned access to abortion and again when she mentioned Kennedy’s Lawrence v. Texas decision, overturning a Texas law barring homosexual sodomy. But things really got interesting when the floor was opened for questions. One man asked a pointed question about the constitutionality of the USA Patriot Act. Sullivan referred the man to a prior panel discussion. Kennedy pursed his lips. Then an elderly woman took a shot: “Are all those people out there with guns part of a well-regulated militia?” Other panelists intervened before Kennedy answered. When Kennedy was talking, he touched on all sorts of topics. He talked about the Founding Fathers’ obsession with clocks, Alexander Solzhenitsyn, the stereotypes Arabs and Americans have of each other and how he misses the practical experience that legendary liberal Thurgood Marshall — whom he twice called a “prophet” — brought to the bench. — Jason Hoppin DA RACE ROLLS ON Bill Fazio plans to roll out some “eyebrow-raising” endorsements Wednesday, according to the DA candidate’s spokesman. One new backer is former Public Defender Jeff Brown. Brown, a state public utilities commissioner, said he’s endorsing the prosecutor-turned-criminal defense attorney over District Attorney Terence Hallinan and Deputy City Attorney Kamala Harris. The city’s current public defender still hasn’t endorsed a candidate. Jeff Adachi said he had agreed to refrain from endorsements while he was conducting 30-minute television interviews with the trio of candidates that are set to air on local cable this week. Meanwhile, a stream of the city’s hoteliers have been lining up behind Harris. In less than a month, 23 hotels, owners and managers gave her campaign $3,500, according to recent campaign finance reports. “Kamala has been talking to people in the tourist industry about � what she’ll do as a district attorney to help improve the quality of life in San Francisco,” said Harris campaign consultant Jim Stearns. Her endorsement of Proposition M seems to resonate with hotel businesses, he added. That local measure, sponsored by mayoral hopeful Gavin Newsom, aims to replace the city’s current aggressive panhandling laws with a more specific law to ban panhandling in specific public places, and aggressive panhandling in all public places. Stearns said Harris took no public position on last year’s Newsom-sponsored Prop N, also known as Care Not Cash, which proposed changing the way San Francisco provides assistance to homeless people. — Pam Smith COCO’S COURT SHUFFLE In case you were wondering, Contra Costa County Superior Court Judge Merle Eaton says he isn’t retiring. But he does plan to give up supervising the Walnut Creek courthouse for the first time in a decade. In June, Judge Mary Ann O’Malley will oversee that branch court, one of several changes on tap when the Contra Costa County judges take up their new assignments next year. “I have been trying to get out of supervising for a couple years,” said Eaton, who was appointed in 1987. But, he said, “I’m not going anywhere anytime soon.” With a large crop of rookie judges on the bench, the branch courthouses will get an influx of new blood. In particular, the Pittsburg courthouse will be supervised by Judge Theresa Canepa, a former federal prosecutor appointed in May 2002. Canepa will oversee Judge Cheryl Mills, a civil attorney elected that year. In other moves: Judge William “Dan” O’Malley, who has been presiding in Pittsburg, will move to Martinez to hear criminal matters. Judge Harlan Grossman will hear sexually violent predator cases and Judge John Minney, who had that assignment, will supervise criminal judges and hear appellate cases. — Jahna Berry JOIN THE SEARCH PARTY An online library of California appellate opinions as far back as 1850 is now available for free at a Supreme Court-sponsored site powered by Lexis-Nexis. Launched earlier this month, the site includes more than 130,000 opinions, searchable by party name, citation and date. There’s also a word search function, so researchers can look things up by subject matter. The new site is meant to supplement more recent appellate rulings available at the judicial branch’s main Web site, www. courtinfo.ca.gov. Lexis-Nexis agreed to create the free site as part of the contract it entered with the state earlier this year to be the official publisher of the court’s opinions. The site can be found at www.courtinfo. ca.gov/opinions/continue.htm. – Jeff Chorney

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