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Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger has taken the initial step in naming his first appointee to the California Supreme Court. Spokeswoman Julie Soderlund confirmed late Friday that during the week of Aug. 15 the governor sent “a few” names to the state’s Judicial Nominees Evaluation Commission as successors to the seat vacated June 30 by Justice Janice Rogers Brown. Soderlund wouldn’t identify any of the nominees or their exact number, but the top contenders, according to sources familiar with the process, are First District Court of Appeal Justice Carol Corrigan, Third District Justice Vance Raye and U.S. District Judge Morrison England Jr. of Sacramento. The sources indicated that additional names may have been forwarded, but they were less certain of their identities. Second District Justice Dennis Perluss, nominated to the bench four years ago by Democratic Gov. Gray Davis, was among those mentioned. There also was speculation that U.S. District Judges Martin Jenkins and Saundra Brown Armstrong could be under consideration. The JNE Commission, which has up to 90 days to make recommendations, has closed-door meetings planned for Sept. 30 and Oct. 1 in Los Angeles. None of the reputed candidates could be reached for comment Friday. In 2001, the four finalists for that vacancy � following longtime Supreme Court Justice Stanley Mosk’s death � chose to keep their silence. Only after Davis had officially nominated him for the job did Justice Carlos Moreno start granting interviews. It also appears that Schwarzenegger doesn’t plan to make a final decision in the near future. While appearing on a nationally syndicated radio show in Los Angeles last week, Schwarzenegger was asked whether he planned to appoint a new justice before the Nov. 8 election.
Judical Picks’ Profiles
Carol Corrigan
Vance Raye
Morrison England

According to a transcript of the show, the governor said: “I don’t think it will be before the election.” He appeared to be ready to elaborate, but was cut off when host Hugh Hewitt asked if conservatives were going to be happy with his choice. The governor dodged the question, responding that it is “very important that we appoint the right person, the most competent person, the person that really has skills and experience.” However, if the names espoused by sources are correct, conservatives might not be that happy. None of them has a reputation as a far-right conservative � a label often applied to former Justice Brown � and are seen more as moderates. Two of them were nominated previously by Democrats � Perluss by Davis and Jenkins by President Clinton. Minorities could be pleased, though, because of a desire within some communities to replace Brown, a black justice, with another black justice. Raye, England, Armstrong and Jenkins are black. But according to sources Friday, the strongest contest appears to be among Corrigan, Raye and England � all three of whom have been mentioned in recent months by court pundits. Corrigan, an appointee of Republican Gov. Pete Wilson, has had a high profile in recent years as the chairwoman of a Judicial Council task force converting trial court jury instructions into plain English. The civil instructions were officially approved by the state’s Judicial Council a couple of years ago, while the criminal instructions were passed on Friday. Corrigan, 57, was appointed to San Francisco’s First District in 1994 and has involved herself in several aspects of the judiciary � including teaching at the annual school for judges. She is a former Democrat who changed her affiliation to Republican 10 years ago. Oakland appellate lawyer Jon Eisenberg mentioned Corrigan as a likely candidate as far back as April in a story in The Recorder. “She’s the first person who came to my mind when the position opened up,” the Horvitz & Levy partner said Friday, “and she’s still at the top of my list.” Less has been reported about Raye, 57, or England, 50, but both have been touted for their ability on the bench. Raye, appointed to Sacramento’s Third District in 1991, had previously served on the Sacramento County Superior Court. England, nominated to Sacramento’s federal court in 2002, had served on Sacramento County’s superior and municipal benches since 1996. Both Raye and England have military backgrounds. Raye served as an Air Force captain in Vietnam from 1970-74, and was an assistant staff judge advocate at California’s Beale Air Force Base. England served as a major in the Army Reserve Judge Advocate Corps from 1988-2002, earning the Army’s Meritorious Service Medal, Commendation Medal and Achievement Medal. Gerald Uelmen, a professor at Santa Clara University School of Law, called all three “strong contenders.” Uelmen and Paul Fogel, an appellate specialist in Reed Smith’s San Francisco office, took exception, however, with Schwarzenegger’s apparent decision to wait until after the election to nominate a new justice for the high court. “The court really needs a permanent seventh member,” Fogel said, noting the court’s recent decision that put controversial Proposition 77 back on the ballot. “That turned on a pro temappointment,” he said. “And I would think the court would not want to be dispensing justice on a pro tembasis.” Uelmen agreed, noting that Chief Justice Ronald George has speculated that even if someone were named today, a new justice may not sit for oral arguments until December. “If we don’t start the process until November,” he said, “it’s unlikely we’ll have anybody in place until March or April.” Oakland’s Eisenberg speculated that the governor was trying to avoid more pre-election politics, especially if he ignores the far right and appoints a moderate. “He’s already on the ropes with this special election,” Eisenberg said. “He’s got enough political difficulty without announcing a moderate to the state Supreme Court, incurring the wrath of the far right. “Does he need that grief now when he’s already got political pressures from the left?”

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