The statewide and legislative races are all between Democrats and Republicans. I’m supporting all of the Democrats.
Of more interest may be information about the judges up for confirmation.
Confirmation of Associate Justices
Patricia Guerrero – Yes! She’s brilliant off the scale. First appointed to the Court of Appeal about 5 years ago and has performed really well.
My favorite decision of hers held that Amazon is in the stream of commerce and exert enough control over their distributors that they can be held accountable for defects in products sold by third parties, and not letting them get off with calling themselves an “intermediary” or “advertiser.” She held that Amazon brands itself as the distributor, and the “stream of commerce,” extends from the manufacturer to the retail seller, and that has always included “intermediaries” such as wholesalers. Amazon is a brand which carries weight with the assumption that they exert some quality control. And they claim a portion of the profit. The ruling was basically that they can’t have their cake and eat it too.
She is the daughter of Mexican immigrants and she got her work start as a cashier in a store. When in private practice she did lots of pro-bono work for immigrants and others. She was only just appointed earlier this year to replace someone whose term ends this year. She deserves to stay on.
Goodwin Liu – Yes! Born in Georgia with immigrant Taiwanese parents who came to the country on a “Northern Exposure” type program where working as physicians in underprivileged areas provided a path to citizenship. He moved to Sacramento in the late 70s.
He clerked for Justice Ruth B. Ginsburg.
He was nominated to the 9th Circuit Court by Obama, but was denied the position due to Republican filibustering as the Republicans were offended by some of his writings, including the following in opposition to Justice Alito’s confirmation: “Judge Alito’s record envisions an America where police may shoot and kill an unarmed boy to stop him from running away with a stolen purse; where federal agents may point guns at ordinary citizens during a raid, even after no sign of resistance, where a black man may be sentenced to death by an all-white jury for killing a white man, absent [an] analysis showing discrimination, is not the America we know. Nor is it the America we aspire to be”
My criticism is that it’s a run-on sentence. Also, two of those commas should be semicolons. But that’s not why Mitch McConnell tanked his nomination.
Shortly after the nomination failed, Governor Brown appointed him to the California Supreme Court.
Lastly, I’m personally grateful to him because I had an appeal some years ago and he was one of two Brown appointments which shifted the Court away from the Deukmejian-Wilson-Schwarzenegger appointed control to a more consumer-friendly approach, and an appeal I made which I expected to lose prevailed because of a similar Superior Court case. My case was held up as the middle court awaited that decision before rendering a decision in mine, and it went my way. Made me look like a genius.
Martin Jenkins – Yes. Born and raised San Francisco in a small apartment and his father being a janitor at Coit Tower, his story is pretty amazing. He is the first openly gay man and the third black man to serve on the California Supreme Court.
There’s not much to say about his judicial philosophy as it’s pretty uncontroversial. He has been appointed to state and federal courts by Republicans and Democrats.
He is deeply Catholic, but his rulings have respected a woman’s right to choose. I don’t know what his personal views are on abortion, but as long as he follows the law I’m good.
Joshua Grobin – Yes – He served as counsel for the Brown 2010 campaign and then seven years later he became Jerry Brown’s fourth appointment to the Supreme Court. That bothered me until I studied his record, and it’s sound.
I especially like his decision on a law passed in 2018 barring prosecuting 15-year-olds as adults even for very serious crimes. A lower court had ruled that it ran afoul of Proposition 57 which gives discretion to judges on the matter of trying youths as adults in general. “Nothing in Proposition 57 appears to forbid the Legislature from making a judgment that public safety can be better protected by keeping the subset of particularly young, 14- and 15-year-old offenders in the juvenile system where they are more likely to receive appropriate education and emotional and psychological treatment, and less likely to reoffend after their release,” he wrote in his decision.
Appellate Court Judges
Again, I only advocate a “no” vote when there is a serious problem, and although I like some of these judges more than others, they all seem fit for the positions. Of note, most of the people we’re voting on were appointed in 2018 or later. The earliest appointment is 2014. What happens in these positions? Burnout?
Theresa Stewart – Yes – She was the City Attorney for San Francisco for about 12 years. She was on the team which won the (endangered) Equality of Marriage SCOTUS decision. She was the first gay woman to serve as an Appellate Court Judge in California. Appointed by Brown in 2014, I would have been concerned for her lack of experience as a judge, however, she’s been at it for 8 years now and has no controversial decisions that I’ve found.
Allison Tucher – Yes – She’s been on the court since 2018 when she was appointed by Brown, and more recently she was appointed Chief Justice of the First Appellate Court. She clerked for Justice Souter. I haven’t found any particularly problematic decisions. While in private practice she did a lot of pro-bono, and in such capacity she successfully represented two innocent men who were on Death Row.
Victor Rodriguez – Yes – Appointed by Newsom last year after working as staff attorney for various Cal Supreme Court justices for years. Worked with the Mexican-American Legal Defense Fund for a while. He hasn’t been on the bench long enough such that any decisions he’s written hasn’t made news.
Iona Petrou – Yes – Appointed by Brown in 2018, after serving about a decade as Superior Court Judge in Alameda County. Shwartzenegger appointed her to that position. Worked pro bono as Chief Counsel for Breast Cancer Prevention Partners.
No controversial decisions, but she was mentioned in a news article about the strife at KPFA, when former Pacifica executive Summer Reese used bolt cutters to enter the KPFA building and blockade herself in after Save KPFA won a majority on the Board and barred her from the building. Judge Petrou granted the injunction against her.
Carin Fujisaki – Yes – First Asian American woman to serve on the First Appellate Court. She served as Senior Staff Attorney for the Chief Justice of the Cal Supreme Court for several years before being appointed by Brown in 2018.
She hasn’t rendered any bad decisions which I find disqualifying, but I do disagree with one of her opinions on a relatively technical issue. Attorneys representing a client had been sanctioned pursuant to a discovery motion and they made a motion for reconsideration on grounds that seem sound. However, the action was dismissed before the motion was heard. The Court heard the motion anyway and revoked the sanctions. The opposition appealed arguing that the judge no longer had jurisdiction to issue orders of any kind once the case was dismissed. Because the dismissing attorney had misrepresented the situation in obtaining the sanctions, the Court ruled that it would violate a basic sense of justice and fair play to simply allow him to dismiss in order to maintain the sanctions. Plaintiff attorney is obviously ethically challenged, but absent an act of the legislature, the jurisdiction of a judge only exists when a case is open. To extend jurisdiction beyond that without specific statutory guidelines is a dangerous expansion of judicial power.
But I don’t see that she should be recalled for one result-oriented decision that makes complete moral sense.
She’s also the only First Appellate Court Justice with a Facebook page. Cute photos of her and her significant other.
Tracie Brown – Yes – Served as a Superior Court Judge for about 5 years. Worked as an associate for Morrison & Foerster LLP. I have a friend from law school who worked for them in the same capacity. He says they were jerks.
She is best known for having taken up a case in opposition to the YWCA’s Japantown building to anyone other than Issei women who had been promised the building in the 1920s. When Issei Christian women raised money to build it, the 1913 Alien Land Law was still in effect, barring Japanese immigrants from owning other than residential real property. Soko Bukai, a group of Japanese American Christian churches in San Francisco, challenged the sale, which would have resulted in the loss of a historic building as well as the eviction of a preschool operated by Nihonmachi Little Friends.
Brown, who is half Japanese, persuaded her firm, Cooley Godward, to take up the case. The legal team was able to establish that the YWCA had in fact agreed to hold the building in trust for the Issei women in the 1920s. The case settled with the group of women being able to buy the building at a low price.
Jeremy Goldman – Yes – Former deputy City Attorney for San Francisco appointed by Newsom just this last June.
His work includes successfully negotiating a resolution to a complex case that resulted in hundreds of unhoused people being able to move into hotel rooms and shelters; defending laws that protect tenants from pretextual rent increases that would force them out of their homes; preventing a private company from forcing shoplifting defendants to pay for an “educational program” in order to be released from detention; and defending San Francisco’s short-term rental regulations.
Teri Jackson – Yes – First African American woman to be appointed Superior Court Judge in 2002 and served until Newsom appointed her to the Appellate Court in 2019.
Jackson attended UC Santa Cruz a few years before I did. She became a prosecutor in San Mateo County in 1980. She was later hired by the SF District Attorney serving in the domestic violence unit, the felony charging unit, and the felony sexual assault unit. In 1988, she became the first attorney to successfully introduce expert testimony regarding elder abuse syndrome in a court case. In 1995, she co-founded the First Offender Prostitution Program (FOPP), a rehabilitation course for individuals arrested for their involvement with prostitution. The program was replicated in other American cities within years of its founding. Jackson became the first woman to head up a homicide unit in the state of California upon her promotion to head district attorney’s homicide unit in 1997.
Gordon Burns – Yes – Appointed by Brown in 2018. Served as Undersecretary of the California EPA from 2011 to 2018.
I’ve looked for articles about his time with the Cal EPA, and I don’t find any controversies. He seems to be knowledgeable about water protection. I can’t find any commentary on him from environmental groups, so I’m going to go by “no news is good news.” If anyone in the environmental activist community has any insight on him, I would welcome it.