During his term as California attorney general our death row population escalated to more than 700 – a national record. Voters must also have forgotten facts about his previous two terms as governor from 1975 to 1983, such as his two memorable appointments: Rose Bird as chief justice and Gray Davis as Brown's chief of staff, who later became California governor. By 1981, Bird had ruled to reverse 61 death penalty convictions before being ousted along with two other death-penalty abolitionists following our protracted recall effort.
Gov. Davis was also later targeted following his "double cross" on Proposition 187, an initiative opposing social services for illegal immigrants. This Brown "lieutenant" became the first California governor to be recalled.
The following are but some of Brown's memorable positions and actions while governor: He favored forced school busing; opposed Prop. 13, our important Jarvis property tax relief initiative; opposed Prop. 8. the Gann "Victims Bill of Rights," an anti-crime measure. He opposed Prop. 4, an initiative to limit bail and probation for violent felons. In addition the "Brown-Bird Supreme Court" blocked executions or reversed or reduced large numbers of violent felony convictions. (e.g., the Harold Tanner case; the Daniel Caudillo case, etc.).
As attorney general, he failed to use his key position to support capital punishment, and apparently agreed with federal Judge Jeremy D. Fogel's 2008 decision to block the execution by lethal injection of a rapist-killer who had been on death row for more than 20 years. Fogel's ruling was that "lethal injection is painful," and therefore "cruel and unusual."
I suggest that Fogel, Jerry Brown the ACLU and others who oppose capital punishment by lethal injection for convicted heinous murderers have "misplaced compassion."
In the more recent challenge to the Prop. 8, the "defense of marriage" initiative, California Attorney General Brown chose not to defend this approved constitutional provision outlawing same-sex marriage.
Howard Garber, Anaheim
The photo above shows Jerry Brown and a happy (intoxicated?) Linda Ronstadt standing with the Eagles after a 1979 fundraiser.