Rose Bird was the first female justice to sit on the State of California Supreme Court, and its first female Chief Justice. Appointed by Governor Jerry Brown in 1977, her tenure as Chief Justice was controversial both because of her strident opposition to capital punishment, and for the manner in which she arrived at her decisions. Her opposition to capital punishment deeply angered California's conservatives, and even some liberals, as she vacated every death penalty case that came before the court.
Anger at Chief Justice Bird escalated until her campaign for reelection to the court failed and she lost her seat in 1986. Her case became a political lightening rod, not just in California, but across the country.
Bird's tenure as Chief Justice was also marred by disgruntlement among some of the other justices who disagreed with her methodology if not her position. In the end, California voters elected to remove her from office, making not only the state's first female Chief Justice, but also its first Chief Justice to be removed from office.
Dear Mr. Kipling,
Thank you very much for your answer.
Do you know anything about specific cases she judged as Chief Justice?
I would like to write some examples to make clear why she was against death penalty. Examples ilustrate difficult situations better.