Making one bad joke after another, Orange County lawyers and judges paid tribute to a political friend Thursday night.
The occasion was a roast of Assemblyman Richard Robinson (D-Garden Grove), who is running for the 38th Congressional District seat. The proceeds, $200-a-person for cocktails and jokes at Robinson's expense, benefited the liberal Democrat's campaign to unseat a conservative, Rep. Robert K. Dornan (R-Garden Grove). Robinson's friend of 13 years, Santa Ana attorney Gary L. Proctor, organized the affair, inviting two Orange County Superior Court judges and three appellate court justices to do the roasting.
Asked why he invited them, Proctor, a criminal attorney, replied: "Because these are the only people I know. I didn't want to bring any criminals."
Some of the roasters had personal reasons to thank Robinson. Though Robinson denied it Thursday, some of his Democratic friends said that during the administration of Gov. Edmund G. Brown Jr. Robinson was charged with screening judicial appointments in Orange County.
"The word was, 'If you wanted to be a judge, go through Dick Robinson,' " one Democrat recalled.
For the appellate judges, Robinson did something else. In 1981, he authored bills that created the state appellate court in Santa Ana.
About 60 people attended the affair, which featured remarks by Superior Court Judge David O. Carter, whom Robinson defeated in the Democratic primary for the 38th District.
During the primary campaign--as Carter attacked Robinson ceaselessly for his ties to special interests--the two candidates were barely on speaking terms. But they appear to have buried the hatchet.
Carter has endorsed Robinson for Congress, and Thursday night the enmity was gone as Carter recounted a story about a pollster. According to Carter, the pollster said that the man to beat Dornan would be "a short, stubborn, dumb ex-Marine. And I didn't know there would be two of us."
Also speaking was appellate court Justice Robert E. Rickles, an old buddy of Robinson, who called Robinson "a nice guy" and said he was "kind of like Dornan--he really isn't that dumb."
Through it all, Robinson beamed, took notes and then got in the last word: "Unfortunately, Bob Hope is supporting Bob Dornan, and I've got this motley crew."
Then he thanked them for coming to "this humorless evening" and for bringing their money. He said he would not be spending as much as Dornan on the race, but "I do plan to spend it wisely."