ERIN BROCKOVICH, whose work as a low-paid legal assistant investigating California’s Pacific Gas and Electric Co. resulted in a large financial settlement (and a major Hollywood film starring Julia Roberts), announced recently that she will be working for the Manhattan personal injury firm of Weitz & Luxenberg. The New York Post reported that Brockovich had signed a consulting agreement with the law firm and had filmed two TV commercials seeking individuals who have contacted lung cancer from exposure to asbestos. “I’m hands-on and they’re hands on, so it will be a team effort,” she told the Post.
The forty-eight year old legal assistant also generated a fair amount of publicity because of recent remarks about Republican Vice-presidential candidate Sarah Palin. Brockovich made these statements about the Alaska Governor: “Sure, she may be loud. So am I. Sometimes you’ve got to scream to get anyone to hear you.” Brockovich also said: “The fact is that Sarah Palin positively emanates strength. She gives off the aura of being a strong woman who doesn’t back down, and she does it sporting heels and wearing her family like a badge of honor. I am sure there are a million other women out there doing the same thing.”
Federal Judge Barefoot Sanders Dies at 83
Former Federal District Judge Harold Barefoot Sanders worked with the administrations of Presidents John F. Kennedy and Lyndon Johnson, but was best known for his work as the Federal Judge who steered the Dallas schools through the long process of desegregation.
Harold Barefoot Sanders did not earn his unique name as a boy because he liked to walk around without shoes. The name came from his grandmother, whose maiden name was Dennie Barefoot. He graduated from the University of Texas Law School. During the 1960 presidential election he managed Dallas County for the 1960 Democratic ticket headed by John F. Kennedy. After the election, Kennedy appointed him US Attorney in Dallas. In 1963, he urged President Kennedy to cancel his scheduled visit to Dallas because the atmosphere was “very hostile.” After Kennedy’s death he worked in the Justice Department in Washington, and worked as a legislative counsel in the White House in 1967. He returned to private practice, but in 1979 president Jimmy Carter appointed him to the federal bench.
One of him most significant experiences occurred on November 22, 1963, immediately after the Kennedy assassination. He was asked to find a judge to swear in the new president. He called Federal Judge Sarah T. Hughes, who said, “Is there an oath?” Sanders said, “Yes, but we haven’t found it yet.” Judge Hughes stated: “Don’t worry about it. I’ll make one up.” Harold Sanders reported in a 2006 interview with the Dallas Morning Star that half the federal attorneys in the country were looking for the oath. “We were looking in the statute books, and all the time, there it was in the Constitution, pure and simple.”
Judge Sanders is survived by his wife, four children, and ten grandchildren.
Where Are They Now?
JUDGE LANCE ITO, who became a household name when he presided over the O.J. Simpson murder trial in Los Angeles more than ten years ago, is doing what now? Giving speeches to the bar association? Playing shuffleboard in Fort Lauderdale? No, he’s still sitting as a trial judge in Los Angeles.
With O.J. Simpson convicted for burglary, robbery and first degree kidnapping in his recent Las Vegas trial, it’s likely that a lot of people are thinking back to those stirring days of yesteryear, when Simpson, with the help of smooth-talking attorney Johnny Cochrane, turned his murder trial into an travesty of justice. Cochrane was able to flatter and cajole Judge Ito into making a number of foolish decisions during the trial. Before the trial, Ito had been praised lavishly in the press and was the subject of a glowing article in People Magazine. One former prosecutor predicted: “The spotlight will not affect him one little bit. He is made of steel.”
Ito’s reputation has taken another hit recently. The California Supreme Court overturned a death sentence against a prisoner because of actions Ito took while a prosecutor. According to the court, Ito and two other prosecutors failed to turn over exculpatory evidence. At a hearing, Ito testified that he remembered seeing the evidence, but doesn’t know why it wasn’t disclosed.