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JERRY WHO? BROWN MAY FIND THAT TIME HEALS ALL REPUTATIONS Voters remember Jerry Brown — former California secretary of state, former governor and current Oakland mayor. They may also remember that the man once called “Governor Moonbeam” appointed Supreme Court Justices Rose Bird, Cruz Reynoso and Joseph Grodin — all of whom were voted out of office for their death penalty opposition. At least that’s what supporters of Republican Attorney General candidate Charles “Chuck” Poochigian are hoping. But that may not be the case. In a Field Poll of 800 registered voters conducted in February, pollsters ran Brown’s name past voters as part of a survey they were doing to test the strength of Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger versus big-name Democrats who could oppose him in 2006. Field Poll director Mark DiCamillo threw Brown’s name in just to see what voters had to say about him. What he found was “the biggest news in the whole survey” — that 37 percent of voters had no opinion of Brown whatsoever. Of the so-called hippie governor, failed presidential candidate, “strong” mayor. Really, no opinion? Among those voters who did have an opinion, 42 percent viewed him favorably, versus 22 percent who viewed him unfavorably. Brown finished two terms as governor in the early ’80s, did a run for U.S. Senate in 1982 and launched three unsuccessful campaigns for the Democratic presidential nomination in 1976, 1980 and 1992, but has maintained a lower profile in recent years. “He’s been out of touch with the general statewide mainstream,” DiCamillo theorized. “The voters need to kind of reacquaint themselves with Jerry, which is probably a good thing.” — Jill Duman ID-THEFT COUNSEL SHY ON NAMING NAMES In arguing Stancy Nesby’s mistaken identity case, her lawyers worried they might make a mistaken ID of their own. Nesby sued San Francisco last year, alleging that her name mistakenly ended up on felony bench warrants after another woman who had been arrested for drug possession had claimed to be her. As a result, Nesby claims she kept getting detained, arrested and jailed all over the Bay Area. Months into the suit her lawyers started to point the finger at an alleged impostor, going so far as to name the mystery woman in a draft of an amended complaint. Then they thought better of it. They’d found her name on a document they’d received in discovery, said Gonzalez & Leigh partner Bryan Vereschagin. But then one of the plaintiff’s lawyers got a lead that made them question whether the woman was the impostor after all. So they took her name out of the draft before filing the final version with the court. “I don’t want to put another innocent person in this thing,” Vereschagin said. His San Francisco firm — which former S.F. supervisor Matt Gonzalez helped open after he left office in January — joined as Nesby’s co-counsel in March. The city scored a major point in the case the following month, when Judge Ronald Quidachay sustained a demurrer in which the city asked the court to throw out Nesby’s suit. But the judge did say Nesby could amend her 17-page complaint, and her lawyers have tackled that task with gusto. They now claim in 80 pages of arguments that whoever the impostor was, she used Nesby’s name during not just one, but four arrests. The complaint signed by Vereschagin and Jivaka Candappa also alleges that the impostor pleaded out, so Nesby ended up with four felony drug convictions under her name. While her old complaint honed in on the city’s failure to fix the warrants, her latest allegations focus more on what police should have done when they arrested someone. “You just take a person’s word for who they are?” Vereschagin said. “That doesn’t make sense.” “We’re certainly sympathetic to the ordeal that Ms. Nesby’s been through,” said city attorney spokesman Matt Dorsey. “But based upon the facts as we know them, we don’t believe there’s evidence of wrongdoing on the part of the city.” — Pam Smith UNDERNEATH THE SUPREMES’ ROBES Rather than recite the well-documented accomplishments of the five state Supreme Court justices attending an event at San Francisco’s Fairmont Hotel on Wednesday, Patrick Ryan decided to point out some lesser-known achievements. It turned out to be a crowd pleaser for those attending the Lawyers’ Club of San Francisco’s annual California Supreme Court luncheon. Ryan, president-elect of the Lawyers’ Club, began with Chief Justice Ronald George, a devoted runner who, he told the audience, once astounded colleagues at a meeting of chief justices by donning track shoes and jogging around the track of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Then there was Justice Joyce Kennard — whom Ryan noted was born in the Dutch East Indies — who is fluent in German and French and learned English by listening to pop music over Radio Australia. Justice Marvin Baxter has a farming background, Ryan recounted, but who knows that when he goes home to Fresno, he drives either a vintage 1959 Chevrolet El Camino or a classic 1958 Chevy Corvette. Next was Justice Kathryn Mickle Werdegar, who was the first woman to be No. 1 in her class at Boalt Hall School of Law, and, Ryan said, still had to fight off powerful forces that tried to block her from serving as the first female editor in chief of the school’s law review. And, finally, there was Carlos Moreno, the newest justice on the court, who Ryan noted was given Yale University’s “For God, For Country, For Yale Award” in 2001 as a distinguished alumnus. Moreno loves theater, opera and crossword puzzles, Ryan said, but in his school days also played polo and baseball and ran track. Hearty applause followed each intro, as Ryan raised the bar for next year’s president-elect. — Mike McKee SAME JUDGE, SAME RESULT FOR FLOWERS A favorable Ninth Circuit decision combined with the twists and turns of federal sentencing law recently to reopen one of Oakland’s most notorious drug cases from the 1990s. Anthony Flowers, who was convicted in 1996 of cocaine trafficking after a high-profile trial, got a new sentencing hearing in front of the same trial judge who had sent him to prison for 28 years. Flowers’ case was big news back in the day. Not only did it involve some of the criminal bar’s biggest personalities — Flowers was represented by the colorful Maureen Kallins, who is no longer entitled to practice law after numerous run-ins with judges — but the case was widely believed to have killed the career of Northern District U.S. Attorney Michael Yamaguchi. Yamaguchi was on track to becoming a federal judge, but withdrew his name after getting in trouble for making inappropriate comments to the press during Flowers’ trial. He stepped down and instead became an immigration judge. Unfortunately for Flowers, though, none of this, including the recent profound changes to federal sentencing law, has changed the way Senior U.S. District Judge Justin Quackenbush views his case. The judge, visiting by designation from Washington, rejected all the legal arguments and most of the mitigation evidence offered by Flowers’ new attorney, San Francisco solo Arthur Wachtel, and re-sentenced Flowers to 26 years. Of the small difference, the judge said, “It doesn’t seem like much, but it is what I think is the appropriate sentence.” — Jeff Chorney NEW TECH, NEW HEADACHES? Some in Santa Clara County are a little nervous about a new case management system that will interconnect all state trial courts by 2010. Santa Clara will likely be one of the last counties to get the hookup, and that’s just fine with folks there. “Our court in Santa Clara County is in no particular hurry to get on the system,” said Presiding Judge Alden Danner. “We know there will be a lot of bugs.” Danner added that he’d like the state to work out all the kinks before the system — designed to streamline sharing of data — is put in place in Santa Clara. The county already has a stellar local system that tracks civil and criminal cases, which is why, Danner speculates, it will be years before Santa Clara logs onto the new statewide system. A few are already wondering if this new system will be more of a hindrance than a help. They worry that it may increase human error and create a headache for attorneys across the state. “It’s going to be costly and difficult to interface with the new system,” said Assistant Public Defender Nancy Brewer. However, Danner, who was on the Judicial Council’s technology advisory committee for five years, said he is not sure how much the new system will cost the county to install. Danner noted last week that many of the state’s trial courts are using “antique” systems that desperately need a makeover. The Administrative Office of the Courts began exploring ways to upgrade the state’s trial court system two or three years ago. The public comment period on the California Case Management System is open until June 30. — Julie O’Shea

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