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SACRAMENTO — Outgoing Gov. Gray Davis announced a final round of judicial appointments Nov. 11, naming several allies and advisers to completely fill the bench in several counties, including San Francisco, Alameda, Contra Costa, and Los Angeles. The appointments leave very little judicial work for the incoming administration of Arnold Schwarzenegger. Davis topped out the appellate courts several weeks ago, and only a handful of superior court slots now are left statewide. Davis will exit office having made 359 judicial appointments while governor, a spokeswoman says. Lawyers and legal scholars say the recalled governor leaves the judiciary ethnically more diverse than it was when he arrived. While some people expected the Democrat to take a more liberal, activist approach to counter the previous 16 years of Republican appointments, he instead developed a reputation for naming judges from a variety of political and legal backgrounds. “I think his judicial appointments in general are pretty well-received, actually. By and large, I think he deserves pretty good marks,” says Steven Merksamer, a partner in the Sacramento office of Nielsen, Merksamer, Parrinello, Mueller & Naylor. Merksamer, a Republican, served as then-Gov. George Deukmejian’s chief of staff. Besides picking more criminal defense attorneys, Davis’ legacy also includes naming more civil litigators — a much-needed improvement over his predecessors, says Santa Clara University School of Law professor Gerald Uelmen. Paul Gerowitz, executive director of California Attorneys for Criminal Justice, says although Davis wasn’t the group’s “ideal” person, he was still a dramatic improvement over Republican governors Pete Wilson and Deukmejian. “He didn’t reform the bench, but under the circumstances he did as well as could be expected,” says Gerowitz, whose organization has about 2,000 criminal defense attorneys from across the state. Gerowitz is pleased with Davis’ only Supreme Court appointment — Justice Carlos Moreno — and says people will remember Davis more for his bringing diversity to the judiciary, which had developed a reputation under Republicans as being the domain of older, straight white men. According to the governor’s office, 34 percent of Davis’ appointments were women, compared with 25 percent under Wilson, 15 percent for Deukmejian, and 16 percent under Gov. Jerry Brown. Ethnic statistics yield similar results. Davis’ appointees were 13 percent Latino, 9 percent black, and 7 percent Asian. Each of those categories represented 5 percent of Wilson’s judges. Davis also named 10 openly gay or lesbian judges — the first since Brown was governor. Lawyers, including the Republican Merksamer, say they aren’t yet sure how the judiciary will shape up under Schwarzenegger. Many are watching to see who the new governor will pick to be his judicial appointments secretary for an indication of which way the bench might lean. Like those from the rest of his term, Davis’ last picks represent a variety of work experience and political philosophies. For example, in Alameda he chose two litigators, name partner Evelio Grillo of Oakland’s Grillo & Stevens, and partner Wynne Carvill at Thelen Reid & Priest. In San Francisco, he tapped Kathleen Kelly, an assistant U.S. attorney who is the niece of Oakland Mayor and former Gov. Brown, whom Davis served as chief of staff. Kelly, a former San Francisco deputy city attorney, says she eventually hopes to wind up in a courtroom at the city’s Youth Guidance Center, the name for San Francisco’s juvenile detention facility. “I’ve spent a lot of time out there, and really care about the kids,” says Kelly, who is getting ready to resign from her position as president of a nonprofit group that provides support services for children in the city’s juvenile court system. Besides Kelly, Grillo, and Carvill, Davis announced other appointments Nov. 12 — including a couple that have been expected for several weeks. Barry Goode, who is Davis’ legal affairs secretary, will take the only open spot in Contra Costa County, and Burt Pines, the governor’s judicial appointments secretary, will head down to Los Angeles. Davis filled the rest of the L.A. bench. Besides Pines, he named L.A. Deputy District Attorneys Michael Carter and Michael Latin; Wendy Kohn, a securities arbitrator; Jan Levine of Fogel, Feldman, Ostrov, Ringler & Klevens; and Michael Linfield, a solo plaintiffs attorney. In Nevada County, Davis tapped Robert Tamietti, a solo who practices business law. In Orange County, Davis picked John Gastelum, a research attorney with the Fourth District Court of Appeal. And finally, in Imperial County, Barrett Foerster, a partner at Olins, Foerster & Hayes, will take the bench. Jeff Chorney is a reporter at The Recorder, the American Lawyer Media daily newspaper in California and where this article first appeared. Reporter Pam Smith contributed to this report.

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