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Justice Janice Rogers Brown for the Supreme Court?

The AP is reporting that California Supreme Court Justice Janice Rogers Brown (San Francisco) is a likely replacement for Justice Sandra Day O'Connor. Who's Janice Rogers Brown?

In many ways, her line of thinking mirrors both the Bush administration and recent U.S. Supreme Court precedent. A Christian black woman from the segregated South, Brown supports limits on abortion rights and corporate liability, routinely upholds the death penalty and opposes affirmative action.

...she formulates opinions "in prayer and quiet study of the Bible." And in her commencement address, she criticized philosophers and scientists for trying to mold society "as if God did not exist."

....But when it comes to the death penalty, Brown routinely affirms death sentences. Two years ago, she wrote that "murderers do not deserve a fate better than that inflicted on their victims."

The White House, which is trying to expand the use of federal death penalty statutes, declined comment on rumors that its lawyers have interviewed Brown in the event a seat on the high court opens.

Howard Bashman of How Appealing, who probably gets more inside dirt on the issue of appellate judges than the rest of us combined, thinks Brown is a likely replacement.

Justice Brown does not have a friendly record to the criminally accused. consider this from 1996:

Although Janice Brown, Governor Wilson's nominee to the California Supreme Court, has little experience as a judge, at least one case leaves little doubt as to how she will rule on prison cases. In a dissenting opinion, she argued that prison officials should be free to ignore their own rules if need be: "The CDC runs prisons, not country clubs, not vocational schools."

In In re Yakle, the majority of the court of appeal found that the Department of Corrections was bound by their rules. They could change the rules, but they must follow them as written. Thus, if a regulation stated that wardens "will" establish a handicraft program, an institution was under a mandatory duty. The majority found the state's argument -- that "will" was not mandatory -- "wholly unpersuasive." A concurring opinion chided the Director of Corrections for asking the court to take a judicial activist stance and "clean up his bacon."

Justice Brown had no problems in this role. She wrote that courts should not interfere with prison officials. Her dissent failed to even consider whether officials needed to comply with their rules. It does not speak well of future decisions she may make as a high court justice.

We will say, however, that our preliminary research has shown that Justice Brown has voted to reverse three California death penalty verdicts--one in a case where the defendant was denied the right to represent himself and another, in which she authored the opinion, involving the prosecutor's withholding of exculpatory evidence in a crime lab report. In the third case, the prosecutor "lied to the jury about the evidence and laughed and made faces when the defense lawyer spoke."

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