High court

Jul 27, 2011

Gordon Liu, the UC Berkeley law professor whose appointment to the federal appeals court was blocked, has been appointed by Gov. Brown to the state Supreme Court. The Chronicle's Bob Egelko has the story.


"Liu's appointment to the court comes two months after his nomination to the Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco was scuttled by Senate filibuster. He would succeed Carlos Moreno, who retired in February as the only Democratic appointee on the seven-member state court."


"Liu has "the background, the intellect and the vision to really help our California Supreme Court again be one of the great courts in the nation," Brown said at a news conference. He said the only criticism of Liu has come from "some of the more fanatical Republicans ... the ideologues on the right."


"State Republican Chairman Tom Del Becarro promptly called it "a predictable but bad pick." Liu's nomination "sends yet another signal that California is not a safe place for employers or jobs," because, Del Becarro said, his belief in a Constitution that evolves over time will encourage lawsuits."


It's time to abolish the Board of Equalization, opines the Bee's Dan Walters, with the best evidence being the latest flap over California's new online sales tax.


"It's also another bit of evidence that the Board of Equalization, created 132 years ago to ensure that counties applied property taxes fairly, should be abolished."


"It's simply ludicrous that the administration of taxes is dependent on the ideological whims and personal agendas of five politicians. The board's purview now includes sales taxes and income tax appeals from the Franchise Tax Board."


"Four of the Board of Equalization members are elected from immense districts, while the state controller has the fifth seat. The controller, the chairman of the Board of Equalization and the state finance director also constitute the Franchise Tax Board, which collects personal and corporate income taxes."


"It's a virtual invitation to decide tax policy, and even individual tax cases, on the basis of ideology or political pull, examples of which have popped up frequently."


The legal duel in San Diego continues over former Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger's partial commutation of the sentence of the son of former Speaker Fabian Nunez. From the U-T's Michael Gardner.


" San Diego County District Attorney Bonnie Dumanis wants her local superior court to decide whether former Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger ignored an untested constitutional law when he cut in half the sentence handed down to the son of a once-powerful assemblyman involved in a fatal brawl on the San Diego State University campus."


"But state Attorney General Kamala Harris argues that this first-of-its kind challenge to a governor’s authority to issue commutations should be merged with a similar appeal in Sacramento County Superior Court."


"The dueling arguments over venue are outlined in new court papers filed in advance of an Aug. 4 hearing in Sacramento. That session will likely determine whether the case will be tried not far from where Mesa College student Luis Santos was killed nearly three years ago or just a couple of blocks away from the attorney general’s headquarters in the capital city — and not far from the lawyers who represent the victim’s parents."


Nobody knows how the debt-ceiling debate finally will get resolved, but state Treasurer Bill Lockyer isn't taking any chances: He authorized a $5.4 billion short-term loan to cover expenses just in case. From the Chronicle's Wyatt Buchanan.


"California is the first state in the nation to take this step, and Lockyer said he is still hopeful that leaders in the federal government will come to an agreement before the United States is plunged into "a financial and economic abyss."


"California had to obtain this interim financing to protect the state from the immediate, drastic consequences of a failure by Washington to resolve the debt ceiling impasse by the Aug. 2 deadline," Lockyer said."


"If that deadline is missed, the federal government is likely to prioritize debt payments above other obligations - such as money owed to the states - to avoid a default, financial experts said."


"That could mean the loss of federal funding for transportation, health programs including Medi-Cal and other services, Lockyer said."


And from our "Utah Tales" file comes the story of the mystery man -- a man who has refused to tell anyone who he is and who would rather stay locked up than reveal his identity. The Provo fuzz are stumped.


"The unidentified man, who has graying hair, a light beard and is believed to be in his 60's, was arrested on July 1 for trespassing in a parking garage."


"He was booked into jail on three misdemeanor charges and has thwarted any chance of release, with or without bail, by refusing to identify himself."


"I've been trying to think from A to Z why he would want to stay here ... why he wouldn't give us any information," Harris said."


"He either has to be wanted by some other state or he could be on some other registry or database that has not shown up," he added."


Word on the street it's Jimmy Hoffa...

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