The 2,230 identical, computer-printed letters (Dec. 8) from members of "Californians to Defeat Rose Bird" provided unintended symbolism of the kind of appellate judges Howard Jarvis' organization would like to foist upon the people of this state. If Howard Jarvis, state Sen. H. L. Richardson (R-Glendora), and other right-wing ideologues have their way, our Supreme Court will be packed with carbon-copy supporters of their political agenda.
What is really under attack from the campaign to recall Justice Rose Elizabeth Bird, Joseph Grodin, Cruz Reynoso and Stanley Mosk is not the court's decisions but the independence and integrity of our judiciary. A judiciary unfettered by political pressure is an essential part of our constitutional system of checks and balances. That system will be in jeopardy if appellate judges can be recalled merely because some of their decisions are unpopular or offend special interest groups with the resources to mount a slick statewide recall campaign.
As a practicing attorney, I have frequently disagreed with the decisions of the Bird Court. However, I greatly respect the independence of the justices despite the tremendous political pressure that unfortunately has been placed upon the Supreme Court.
And, I am outraged at the tactics of groups like Jarvis', which distort the record of the court and deny the crucial role of judicial review in American democracy. Despite Jarvis' inflammatory rhetoric, criminals have not been freed to walk the streets. Few convictions have actually been overturned, and in virtually all cases the individuals have been retried and convicted.