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CONDIT DEFAMATION SUIT AGAINST WRITER BOOMERANGS The whole idea was to put the kibosh on gossip about his sex life. But now it looks like a lawsuit filed by former Modesto congressman Gary Condit is backfiring a little, forcing the disgraced politician to discuss exactly the kind of salacious details he wanted kept out of the public eye. Condit had sued Vanity Fair columnist Dominick Dunne for defamation because of remarks he made on talk shows and at a Los Angeles dinner party about Condit’s alleged connection to the disappearance and death of Chandra Levy. But now Condit’s suit is generating some buzz of its own. A federal district judge in New York recently ruled that Condit must answer questions about any sexual relationships he might have had with Levy or two other women — exactly the kind of information the ex-congressman had hoped he would never have to discuss. “Unfortunately for plaintiff, he opened that door himself by filing this lawsuit. The court cannot allow plaintiff to walk through freely while holding defendant in check at the gate,” wrote Senior U.S. District Judge Peter Leisure. Condit, whose political career ended after the Levy scandal, refused to answer questions about the relationships under deposition questioning from Dunne’s lawyers at Sonnenschein Nath & Rosenthal. Condit has hired L. Lin Wood of Georgia and Lazer, Aptheker, Rosella & Yedid of Melville, N.Y. The decision went against Condit partly because he sued in New York rather than California, which has stricter privacy protections in discovery, according to Leisure. “Defendant Dunne did not ask to be sued, and plaintiff Condit should not be allowed to use the court system as both a sword and a shield,” Leisure wrote. The judge said the lawyers are free to negotiate whether Condit’s answers will be kept confidential per an earlier protective order in the case. — Jeff Chorney BLAST FROM THE PAST During his 17 years on San Francisco’s First District Court of Appeal, former Justice Absalom Bray got to work by taking a Greyhound bus from his home in Martinez � a 56-mile roundtrip each day. Bray, who rose to presiding justice of Division One while serving on the court from 1947 to 1964, also boasts a distinction that would be the envy of any UC-Berkeley graduate: He holds the record for attending the most Big Games against Stanford, missing only one between 1906 and 1982. Those nuggets of information are just a couple of the gems in a small exhibit marking the 100th anniversary of the First District. Old photographs, brief histories and prominent rulings from the last century are in a display case at the entrance to the court clerk’s office on the main floor of the Earl Warren Building at 350 McAllister St. The exhibit, which will be up until September, features an overview of the court, as well as specific mementos from each of its five divisions. Diana Herbert, the court’s clerk and administrator, said a committee of court employees and justices selected the items for display and that some of the memorabilia will go on the road as part of a traveling exhibit. According to documents in the display, the First District, Los Angeles’ Second District and Sacramento’s Third District were approved by voters on Nov. 8, 1904, as a constitutional amendment “recognizing the need to speed the course of justice.” The San Francisco court’s first three justices — Ralph Harrison, Samuel Hall and James Cooper — took the oath of office on April 17, 1905, and were paid $7,000 a year. The court’s Division Two was created in 1919, Division Three in 1961, Division Four in 1966 and Division Five in 1981. The court was a bastion of white males for its first 74 years, with its first black justice, Clinton White, joining in 1978 and its first woman, Betty Barry-Deal, in 1980. Both were in Division Three. And it wasn’t until Sept. 3, 1998, that Justice Barbara Jones became the first female presiding justice of any division of the court. She now heads Division Five. The exhibit also contains the pipe of former Division Two Presiding Justice John Nourse, who served from 1919 until 1957, and a T-shirt with rough sketches of former Division Five justices Donald King, Harry Low and Zerne Haning III stitched by a new staffer to help him put their names to their faces. There is a photo of former Division Two Justice Roger Traynor who went on to serve as the chief justice of the California Supreme Court, as well as shots of former Division Three Justices Kathryn Mickle Werdegar and Ming Chin, who now sit on the state’s high court. The display also features a few prominent rulings, including Division Four’s 1984 opinion in City of Oakland v. Oakland Raiders, 174 Cal.App.3d 414, invalidating the city’s attempt to acquire the team, and Division Two’s 2002 holding in Ferguson v. Friendfinders, 94 Cal.App.4th 1255, upholding a state law placing restrictions on unsolicited electronic junk mail. — Mike McKee

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