L.A. Supervisors Vote ‘No Confidence’ in High Court

Times Staff Writer

The Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors voted Tuesday to express “no confidence” in the California Supreme Court.

The action--initiated by the board’s three-member conservative majority--was welcomed by leaders of a statewide campaign to oust Chief Justice Rose Elizabeth Bird and several other justices.

Supervisor Pete Schabarum, who has reportedly taken an active role in the campaign, authored the motion and said he hopes that other elected bodies will follow suit.

Citing the court’s reversal of death sentences in four cases last week, the three Republican members of the officially non-partisan board--Schabarum, Mike Antonovich and Deane Dana--said the majority of the court’s justices are “doing everything within the powers of their positions of public trust to see to it that no murderer is executed in the state of California.”


The motion also called on county voters to study the performance of the justices and make a personal decision on their November, 1986, reconfirmation election.

In addition to Bird, other Democrat-appointed justices who are the target of organized opposition are Stanley Mosk, Cruz Reynoso and Joseph Grodin.

Opposing the board’s action were liberal Democrat Supervisors Ed Edelman and Kenneth Hahn, who argued that the action goes too far and that the effort to oust the justices is undermining the independent judiciary.

Noting the continuing criticism of the justices by the Republican board members, Edelman said, “Unfortunately, this is turning into a partisan issue.”


Tuesday’s vote was one in a series by board conservatives criticizing the Supreme Court, and Schabarum said he intends to keep it up. Last month, the conservatives blasted the court for its decision giving public employees the right to strike.

Fred Karger, campaign manager for Crime Victims for Court Reform, a key group trying to oust Bird, said he was unaware of any other local elected government panel taking such an action. He added, “We’re anxious to get the endorsements of the non-partisan elected bodies . . . as many as we can conjure up.”

Spokesmen for Bird’s confirmation campaign could not be reached for comment.

In part because of questions raised by the anti-Bird effort, the state Assembly recently approved a bill banning political parties from endorsing judicial candidates. Actions like the Los Angeles board’s could provide leaders of the anti-Bird campaign with an avenue for building “official” political support while avoiding charges of partisanship.