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Bird Produces Negative Image in Campaign, Pollster Finds

May 23, 1986|Associated Press

SAN FRANCISCO — Chief Justice Rose Elizabeth Bird, threatened with becoming the first member of the California Supreme Court ever to lose a reconfirmation vote, has produced a campaign image as a "combative, vicious" person, the director of the California Poll said Wednesday.

"Rose Bird is in trouble" and could lose the bench in November, Mervin Field told the Commonwealth Club.

The opposition against Bird, who was appointed by then-Gov. Edmund G. Brown Jr., is centered on her opinions in favor of reversing the death penalty cases that have come before her.

Antipathy 'Phenomenal'

"What we're finding out now is that this antipathy toward her is phenomenal . . . overwhelmingly against her. It's roughly 55% to 34%," Field said.

Field said his polls have also disclosed a development that goes directly against an overwhelming early opinion: that Bird could take down to defeat with her Justices Cruz Reynoso and Joseph R. Grodin.

"However, we note now one trend with respect to the other justices," Field said. "The plurality for their retention is now increasing. So what we see more and more in the Supreme Court justice race, the public--whatever antipathy, whatever hostility, whatever reluctance they have--they are focusing it on Chief Justice Rose Bird."

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