Former California Supreme Court Justice Cruz Reynoso took a not-so-subtle dig at the court’s current occupants Friday during a morning seminar at the American Bar Association’s annual meeting.
The ABA in SF
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Reynoso, former Chief Justice Rose Bird and ex-Justice Joseph Grodin were removed from the state’s highest court in 1986 by voters upset with their liberal positions on the death penalty. Voters felt they had reversed too many capital convictions.
On Friday, Reynoso, now a professor emeritus at the UC-Davis School of Law, said that, nonetheless, the Supreme Court back in those days and for decades before had always been viewed as one of the best in the land.
“But,” he said, “I haven’t heard those kinds of comments about the court since I left.”
Reynoso, who was taking part in a seminar about public reactions to controversial rulings, insinuated that the current panel — while comprised of “good people” — isn’t taking tough stands on sensitive issues. He said he often wonders whether Chief Justice Ronald George and his six compatriots believe “if they ever do anything controversial, the same thing that happened to me might happen to them.”
Reynoso said former California Supreme Court Justice Otto Kaus often said it’s difficult to ignore the alligator in the bathtub if you want to take a bath.
“So I wonder,” he said, “if subconsciously they can’t help but think about Otto Kaus and the alligator in the bathtub.”
— Mike McKee