Wednesday, April 16, 2003
San Francisco Superior Court Judge Carlos Bea Nominated to Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals
By a MetNews Staff Writer
Superior Court Judge Carlos Bea has been nominated to the Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals by President Bush.
If confirmed, the 68-year-old judge would fill a seat that has been vacant since 1996, when the late Judge Charles Wiggins took senior status. President Clinton’s nominee, San Francisco lawyer Barry Goode, never got a confirmation hearing and is now legal affairs secretary to Gov. Gray Davis.
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 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 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.
“He’s considered one of the brightest judges on the court,” First District Court of Appeal Justice Paul Haerle told the San Francisco Chronicle.
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 campaigned for and contributed to numerous Republican candidates before his appointment to the bench, but is reported to have close ties with city Democratic leaders such as Mayor Willie Brown and state Sen. John Burton.
Bea has not been without controversy since being appointed to 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.
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.
Copyright 2003, Metropolitan News Company