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Politics: The New AG

By Megan Kinneyn | Jan. 2, 2007

Law Office Management

Jan. 2, 2007

Politics: The New AG

A preview of Jerry Brown's first 100 days as AG. By Peter Blumberg

By Peter Blumberg
      Don't look for any major staff shake-ups when Jerry Brown takes the helm of California's Department of Justice this month. Of the 1,100 lawyers and nearly 4,000 other employees that Brown will oversee as the newly elected attorney general, he's allowed to bring in only eight people outside the existing ranks of civil servants. Of course, Brown's choices for chief deputy and other key positions will set the tone for the next four?and potentially eight?years, so that's the first thing to watch during his first 100 days in office.
      "Those decisions will have an impact on the rest of his term," says John Van de Kamp, who served as AG from 1983 to 1991.
      As for priorities, we can expect Brown to follow the same general course as fellow Democratic AGs Van de Kamp and incumbent Bill Lockyer, as the "people's lawyer," emphasizing consumer and environmental protection.
      As a former governor who signed into law significant environmental regulations in the 1970s, expect Brown to fulfill his campaign promises to aggressively enforce the state's new global-warming law. He may also continue Lockyer's battles with automakers over greenhouse gas emissions.
      But don't expect Brown to make public pronouncements against the death penalty, as he did back when
      he was governor. In fact, over the past eight years as mayor of Oakland, Brown earned enough tough-on-crime credentials to win endorsements from the state's law enforcement establishment over his Republican law-and-order rival for AG, Senator Charles "Chuck" Poochigian of Fresno. Now, there's bound to be some payback from Brown, such as expanded DNA testing at the state crime lab and more aid for local police.
      For Brown watchers, though, perhaps the most interesting question is how he will get along with Sacramento's other outsized personality, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger.
      After Van de Kamp won his first AG election, he says, he met privately with George Deukmejian, the conservative Republican who had just been elected governor, and was gently reminded by him, "You're my lawyer now."
      Can Brown bite his tongue while lawyering for "The Governator"? Stay tuned.

Megan Kinneyn

Daily Journal Staff Writer

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