ARTICLE 3/2/00: GOVERNOR DAVIS.
QUOTES OF THE DAY: "We have the best lawyers and judges money can buy." Anonymous nugget of the law, often repeated by winners in courtroom battles, as they laugh at the losers, when a Judge makes a decision against the facts, the law and any semblance of logic.
"[Judges] are there to reflect the sentiments that I expressed during the campaign. If I had the feeling they (judges) misled me, then I would feel they should resign." Governor Gray Davis referring to his appointment of Judges, who must pass his litmus test on issues.
"I think we could abolish state government and let him run it by fiat. He doesn't support an independent Legislature, so why would he support an independent judiciary? It's consistent with his view that the other two branches are irrelevant." California state Senate President pro tem John Burton, D-San Francisco, commenting about Davis' lack of understanding that the judicial branch is independent from the executive branch and from the legislative branch, a concept known as Constitutional separation of powers, frequently taught in high school civics classes.
GOVERNOR DAVIS PROCLAIMS THAT JUDGES WHO BETRAY HIM SHOULD RESIGN! WILL HE ENFORCE THIS IDEA? HOW? STAY TUNED!
Governor Davis stated publicly that judges he appoints must follow his philosophy and make the decisions he wants them to make or they should resign. Davis indicated he does not and will not talk to Judges about pending case (a potential felony). Davis did not explain whether his statement "they should resign" has any teeth in it. But the implication was clear -- do as I want, or .... Davis made his statement Tuesday (2/29/00) at a breakfast with reporters while attending the National Governors Association meeting in Washington, D.C.
Davis explained his litmus test for appointing state judges--they must agree with his political philosophy including his stance on the death penalty and a woman's right to choose. Davis said his appointed judges "are there to reflect the sentiments that I expressed during the campaign."
Before appointing judges, Davis has a proverbial "talk" with them. "I've let every judge know that while they do have to follow the law, they're there because I appointed them, and they need to keep faith with my electoral mandate ..." Davis said. "Obviously judges have to follow the law. But in interpreting the law, I expect them to keep faith with the representations I made to the electorate. Otherwise, we're doing a great disservice."
"I'm very passionate about this," Davis said. "Representative government only works when appointees reflect the views of the elected officials who put them in office." Davis said he would feel betrayed if a judge he appointed ruled differently on issues which he and the Judge had spoken about before the appointment.
"If I had the feeling they (judges) misled me, then I would feel they should resign," he said.
Last year, Governor Davis declared that the California Legislature's job was to implement his vision.
Davis has appointed 16 judges to the state trial courts and four to the state courts of appeal, all of whom have been confirmed by the state Commission on Judicial Appointments.
On March 1, 2000, Governor Davis issued the following statement (Source: The Governor's web page):
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Governor Gray Davis today issued the following statement concerning his comments made yesterday to questions about judicial appointments and the selection process.
"As Governor, I have an obligation to appoint people to the executive branch and judiciary whom I believe are both highly competent and philosophically compatible with my views. I am working diligently to achieve both goals.
"I regret that my comments yesterday were interpreted to suggest that I do not believe in an independent judiciary. Once a judge is appointed, I fully respect the independence of the judiciary as a co-equal branch of government committed to following the law and the constitution."
NEWSMAKINGNEWS: Why is Governor Davis talking about the "resignation" of judges who disagree with him? In fact, there is a means to enforce Davis' potential resignation requirement. The California Commission on Judicial Performance, an appointed committee of quasi-prosecutors and quasi-judges, which occasionally enlist a real judge to hear a case, has all California judges under its gun. In the name of "professional responsibility", almost any judge can be hauled before this Commission and nailed to the wall with a litigant's gripe. Sometimes the Commission removes a judge who actually has committed a crime or breached ethics, but most of the prosecutions are highly selective with a political motivation. On the other hand, thousands of litigants send legitimate complaints to the Commission which are duly ignored. The Commission is a well-funded political gun. Monterey County Municipal Court Judge Jose Velasquez faced the Commission's gun when he hung a Catholic religious symbol in his courtroom, and engaged in other politically incorrect conduct. Some District Attorneys in Monterey simply didn't like this Judge. Velasquez was disciplined by a secret vote of the Commission. (Velasquez had actually run for election in Monterey and won--a fact which upset the establishment, which prefers to appoint its own without challenge, and these appointments are almost invariably former DAs or U.S. Attorneys or their wives, sons or daughters, or the relatives of former Judges.) Appellate Court Justice J. Anthony Kline, faced the Commission's gun, when he was prosecuted for writing a decision that disagreed with established law. After much litigation, the charges against Justice Kline were dismissed. The Commission was peeved that Justice Kline did not control his right to independent free speech as a judge, and did not act as a mere rubber stamp of established law, but expressed a dissenting view which would have overturned existing law in a case. Justice Kline was one of the few judges who survived the Commission's blitz unscathed. Many of the judges who faced Commission charges, which are heard with a bare semblance of due process, and result in public scandal, have resigned.