Wednesday, May 27, 2009
WE HAVE BEEN HERE BEFORE
Jerry Brown, Liberal Icon, put a woman on the California Supreme Court.
Jerry Brown was the start down the slippery slope to what you see as California today.
Rose Bird had never been a judge. But she was a LIBERAL.
This is what people remember about her. mainly that no death penalty appeal would get by her.
Bird was born near Tucson, Arizona. Her father, after having deserted the family, died when she was five, so her mother Anne moved with Rose and her two older brothers to New York, where they grew up in poverty. Bird earned her bachelor's degree Magna Cum Laude from Long Island University and went on to graduate from UC Berkeley's Boalt Hall in 1965.
Her career was marked by several firsts: prior to becoming the first female Chief Justice of California, she was the first female law clerk in the Supreme Court of Nevada, the first female deputy public defender in Santa Clara County, the first woman to hold a cabinet-level job in California (as Secretary of Agriculture) and the first chief justice (male or female) to be removed from California's Supreme Court. In 1966 Rose Bird had joined the Santa Clara County Public Defender's Office where, between 1966 and 1974, she held the positions of deputy public defender, senior trial deputy, and chief of the appellate division. In addition to arguing cases before California's Supreme Court, Courts of Appeal, and in federal court, Bird taught at Stanford Law School from 1972 through 1974.
Her tenure on the Supreme Court was controversial. She was criticized as an ideologue who substituted her personal bias over the law and state Constitution. Her widely perceived personal versus judicial opposition to the death penalty was a particular sore point for her critics. She was first up for confirmation in 1978. There was a campaign waged against her, which she did not respond to. However, shortly before the vote, it was charged that the court decided to withhold the publication of a controversial ruling until after the 1978 vote . The ensuing controversy generated considerable press coverage but Bird was confirmed by a 52% to 48% margin.
As of 1986, six of 15 Chief Justices in U.S. Supreme Court history, including Earl Warren, had had no previous judicial experience, but Bird's lack of prior judicial experience, when originally appointed by former Governor of California Jerry Brown, led to the assertion that she was unqualified for the position in campaign literature by Republican Associates of Southern California, directed by Gene Wibert of Glendale, CA.
Almost from the moment she was appointed to head the state's highest court by Gov. Jerry Brown in 1977, Ms. Bird, a pioneering liberal lawyer who had never been a judge, became one of the most controversial figures in California politics. She led a liberal majority that strengthened environmental laws and consumer rights. But in 1986, voters angry at her opposition to the death penalty removed her and two other Brown-appointed justices by refusing to extend their terms. They were the first such removals in California history
What do I remember about Rose Bird.
She made life more miserable for citizens and police by expanding liability.
She came up with the concept of Special Relationships.
That meant that if you came across someone broke down--You either had to take them to help, or wait til their help got there.
You could not let anyone help you--If they got hurt, you were liable.
Joint and Several Liabilty. She applied this concept. What does this mean? Say Joe Blow is drunk at a bar. He has several DUI's and no license. He asks around for a ride. Dangerous Dan, also pretty drunk, volunteers to give him a ride. On the way home Dan takes a ramp too fast, flips the car, and causes Joe to become a paraplegic.
SO--Joe before would have sued Dan.
NOW, Joe sues--- Dan, the maker of Dan's car, and the Transportation department for designing a ramp that someone could turn their car over on.
Dan has not a cent.
The car maker proves that the car did not fail.
IF Joe's lawyer can get a bubble-headed jury, they will find the Transportation Dept more than 10% at fault, and Joe is set for life.