SACRAMENTO — Taxpayers will pay a $20,000 libel suit settlement against former state Sen. John Schmitz, who was taken to court for calling a feminist attorney a "slick, butch lawyeress," state legislative officials said Friday.
The Senate Rules Committee agreed to pay the settlement costs in an executive session Wednesday, according to a memo from Legislative Counsel Bion Gregory.
The settlement "falls within the parameters approved by the Rules Committee on Wednesday, Aug. 20. Thus, the execution of the appropriate documents and the payment of the $20,000 has already been authorized," the memo said.
"The payment does not constitute damages, either general, specific or punitive, because no liability on the part of Schmitz, Evans (Schmitz's aide, David Evans), or the state of California was proved," it added.
Memo to Roberti Aide
The memo was sent to Mel Assagai, aide to Senate President Pro Tem David A. Roberti (D-Los Angeles). Roberti is chairman of the Senate Rules Committee.
Schmitz issued a public apology to feminist lawyer Gloria Allred, who requested damages in excess of $10 million. The letter of apology was concurrent with, but not part of the settlement, Gregory said.
A Los Angeles judge read the apology Thursday to Allred, a civil rights lawyer and feminist who has made news with her outspoken advocacy on behalf of clients ranging from homosexual restaurant patrons to children being overcharged for haircuts.
She accused Schmitz, a former Republican state senator from Corona del Mar, of defaming her by labeling her a lesbian, while at the same time taking a swipe at Jews, homosexuals, feminists and even Protestants in a Dec. 22, 1981, news release.
The news release, which Schmitz ordered an aide to write but did not read, referred to Allred as a "slick, butch lawyeress," and also referred to a gathering of feminists as "a sea of hard Jewish and (arguably) female faces."
Series of Hearings
Schmitz also used the terms "bulldykes," "murderous marauders" and "queer" to describe abortion rights advocates who joined Allred at a series of hearings Schmitz chaired as chairman of the Senate Constitutional Amendments Committee.