Metropolitan News-Enterprise


Tuesday, September 30, 2003


Page 1


San Francisco Jurist Confirmed to Ninth Circuit Bench


By a MetNews Staff Writer


San Francisco Superior Court Judge Carlos T. Bea was confirmed yesterday as the newest judge of the Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.

The Senate voted 86-0 to  approve Bea, 69, for a seat that has been vacant since 1996, when the late Judge Charles Wiggins took senior status. Both California senators voted in favor of the nomination.

 Bea, a Stanford Law School graduate, is a native of Spain who grew up there, as well as in the United States and Cuba, and was a member of Cuba’s basketball team in the 1952 Olympics before becoming a U.S. citizen. He also played basketball for Stanford University.

He is not the only Olympic athlete in the family. His son, Sebastian Bea, won a silver medal in rowing for the U.S. at Sydney three years ago.

 Bea was appointed to the Superior Court in 1990 by then-Gov. George Deukmejian after 31 years of civil law practice in San Francisco. He was nominated to the federal district bench in November 1991 by President George H.W. Bush but never came up for a vote in the Senate before Bush left office in 1993, and his nomination died.

On the state bench, Bea has concentrated on civil litigation, including some of the Superior Court’s largest and most complex cases, such as a massive environmental case that resulted in major oil companies paying tens of millions of dollars for the cleanup of drinking water wells contaminated with the gasoline additive MTBE.

During his time in private practice, Bea served as honorary vice consul for Spain in San Francisco, was an adjunct professor at Hastings College of the Law and a lecturer at Stanford Law School, and taught trial techniques at Hastings’ National College of Advocacy. He was also named an advocate of the American Board of Trial Advocates.

   Bea has had some controversies as a member of the Superior Court.

He was attacked in his first election for his past membership in San Francisco’s all-male Olympic Club, and has graded poorly for judicial bias and temperament in a number of polls of local lawyers who say he too often favors big business in civil cases.

The wealthy Bea was also criticized because a construction firm owned by him and his family participated in a program for minority contractors. He rejected the criticism, saying the firm’s participation was fully approved by the proper authorities.

The San Francisco Examiner reported in 1992 that Bea was under investigation by the Commission on Judicial Performance for writing a letter on court stationery, complaining to Caltrans that it had “no basis” for an investigation of the firm. There was no public discipline.

Those issues were cited by the National Organization for Women in opposing his confirmation

As a Superior Court judge, he authored a controversial injunction against Avis Rent-a-Car, requiring the company to desist from engaging in the persistent use of racist epithets directed at employees. The state Supreme Court upheld the decision in a 4-3 decision in 1999, saying judges may regulate racially inflammatory speech in order to protect employees from a hostile working environment, and the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund cited the ruling in endorsing Bea for the Ninth Circuit.


Copyright 2003, Metropolitan News Company