Metropolitan News-Enterprise


Thursday, November 7, 2002


Page 1


Voters Retain Supreme Court, Court of Appeal Justices


By a MetNews Staff Writer


Three California Supreme Court justices and 54 justices of the Court of Appeal were retained by large margins in Tuesday’s election balloting, Secretary of State Bill Jones reported yesterday.

More than 4.4 Californians voted on whether to keep Marvin Baxter, Kathryn M. Werdegar, and Carlos Moreno on the high court, returns from all 24,726 of the state’s precincts showed. Werdegar received the highest rate of approval, 73.8 percent, with 72.5 percent voting to keep Moreno and 71.3 percent opting to give Baxter a new term.

Baxter was appointed by then-Gov. George Deukmejian in 1990, Werdegar by then-Gov. Pete Wilson in 1994, and Moreno by Gov. Gray Davis last year. Baxter, 62,  and Werdegar, 66, were retained for full terms of 12 years, Moreno, 54, for the eight years remaining in the term of his late predecessor, Stanley Mosk.

The Los Angeles County figures were somewhat different, with Baxter, the most conservative of the three, gaining 65.1 percent approval compared to 69.4 percent for Werdegar and 74.3 percent for Moreno, who served on the Compton Municipal Court, the Los Angeles Superior Court, and the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California before reaching the high court.

Court of Appeal justices achieved high marks throughout the state, ranging from 66.5 percent for Justice Richard Fybel of the Fourth District’s Div. Three to 78.1 percent for Presiding Justice Barbara J.R. Jones of the First District’s Div. Five.

In the Second District, which includes Los Angeles, Ventura, Santa Barbara, and San Luis Obispo counties, the totals ranged from 69 percent for Justice Dennis Perluss of Div. Seven to 74.5 percent for Presiding Justice Candace Cooper of Div. Eight.

Totals for all Court of Appeal justices can be found on the state’s website at acort/00.htm.

Presiding Justice Mildred Lillie of Div. Seven, who passed away Oct. 27 after 55 years on the state bench, received 70.1 percent approval.

Tuesday’s results were similar to those of 1998, when a downward trend in the percentage of retention votes was reversed and all justices were retained with approval of  over 70 percent of the voters.

The Second District numbers, however, were slightly down from the last election, when the incumbents ran an organized effort, including hiring a campaign consultant and appearing on slate mailers, and most received more than 78 percent retention votes.

The election this time was a quiet, virtually invisible affair, with no appearance of an organized campaign for or against any justice.

The last successful move to oust California justices in a retention race was in 1986, when a highly organized campaign resulted in the removal of Chief Justice Rose Bird and Supreme Court Justices Cruz Reynoso and Joseph Grodin. All three were branded as too quick to strike down death sentences.

No Court of Appeal justice has been denied retention since the current system was inaugurated in the 1930s.


Copyright 2002, Metropolitan News Company