California lawyers are complaining after Gov. Jerry Brown announced the appointment of yet another young Yale Law School graduate with little more than Obama administration experience to the state’s appellate bench. “Baker is only 37 years old and has no judicial experience. So, he would be a typical Brown appointee to the appellate bench,” wrote legal columnist Roger M. Grace in the Metropolitan News-Enterprise in December 2014–an opinion he has since reiterated.
“Baker, a legal advisor to the president, has reported his whereabouts to the State Bar as being ‘The White House, 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue,'” Grace noted in a May 27 column. He added that Baker resembles many of Brown’s other recent appointments, which have included a disproportionate number of young lawyers from minority backgrounds with Obama-friendly political credentials. (Baker, he notes, has the rare distinction of having briefly practiced in California.)
Last year, Brown’s appointment of 38-year-old Leondra Kruger to the California Supreme Court–like Brown, a Yale Law graduate–stirred similar controversy, even among liberals, given her youth and the fact that she had not practiced law in California.
Grace argues that Baker has a similar background, and similar weaknesses. “And what he lacks—the know-how and wisdom that can only be derived from experience—is of no concern to the man once known as ‘Governor Moonbeam.'”
Grace has suggested that Baker is padding his resume by claiming White House experience when he worked at the counsel’s office down the street. The San Francisco Chronicle reports that Brown’s office is pushing back: “Brown’s press secretary, Evan Westrup, called the accusation ‘outrageous and totally baseless’ and said Baker worked in a section of the executive office whose correspondence bears the letterhead ‘The White House.'”
Baker’s confirmation hearing is July 23.