Baker is virtually unknown to California state law practitioners - the very people who are currently being contacted through the JNE Commission to opine on his suitability for the Moonbeam appointment.
Exactly why the Governor is so eager to appoint someone with no judicial experience to sit in judgment of the decisions made by judges, is the subject of some well-founded speculation in the Met News "Perspectives" column entitled "Lamar W. Baker: Bereft of Credentials for the State Appellate Bench, He's Apt to be Appointed."
According to the Met News, those appear to be the requisite qualifications for Supreme and Appellate Court jurists in the mind of the man who we must never forget, brought us Rose Bird. Other Moonbeam appointments identified by the Met News are:
California Supreme Court Associate Justice The Hon. Goodwin Liu: Democrat, a Yalie, formerly Associate Dean at UC Berkeley Boalt Hall. Lui was 41 with no judicial experience when appointed to the State's highest court in 2011.
California Supreme Court nominee Mariano-Florentino Cuéllar: Democrat, a Yalie, currently a Stanford Law Professor. He is 42, has no judicial experience and will assume the position being vacated by retiring Associate Justice The Hon. Marvin R. Baxter in January 2015.
California Supreme Court nominee Leondra R. Kruger: Democrat, a Yalie, described by the LA Times as a "rising legal star and top Obama administration lawyer," Kruger is 38 and has no judicial experience and her California Bar status has been "inactive" since 2009. She will assume the position vacated by retired Associate Justice The Hon. Joyce L. Kennard in 2015.
It's certainly within a Governor's prerogative to choose jurists likely to follow his agenda, however, the wisdom of choosing people who have never sat as judges in lower courts, let alone California courts, is troubling if not bizarre. There is no shortage of experienced judges, both in the Superior Court and the Court of Appeal, who would make ideal Supreme Court Justices, yet Brown has passed them over. Why?
The Met News notes that Brown's appointments were likely viewed favorably by Obama.
- "Obama in 2010 nominated Liu to the Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. But the nomination languished, and on May 25, 2011, Liu withdrew himself for consideration. Brown came to his rescue, appointing him to the state Supreme Court two months later.
- Cuéllar was a member of the Obama-Biden transition team in 2008 and served from 2009-2010 as a special assistant to the president for justice and regulatory policy and has performed other chores for the president.
- Kruger is in the U.S. Department of Justice’s Office of Legal Counsel which assists the attorney general in advising the president."
The big question is why? Why is Brown so keen to curry favor with Obama? The Met News notes that Brown "unsuccessfully, and quixotically, sought the Democratic nomination for president in 1976, 1980, and 1992. He has recently disclaimed any interest in running in 2016. For a politico who has disclaimed an interest in seeking an office to later seek it would hardly be an unprecedented phenomenon."
"Does Governor Moonbeam have the thought in his cranium that he can, through his judicial appointments, so please the president as to win an endorsement from him to be his successor? That would be a pretty wild theory, were it not for the wildness of Brown’s thinking and actions." The Met News said.
Another explanation for Brown's appointments may have more to do with a personal desire to ensure the continued decline of law and order through an activist agenda. Brown has devastated the Superior Court system by substantially defunding it. Through AB109 he has wreaked havoc on the county jails by requiring them to house felons who belong in state prison. Why not ensure that any legal challenges to his agenda are thwarted by a Supreme Court likely to tip the balance in his favor?