Gov taps lesbian as SF judge

  • by Matthew S. Bajko
  • Wednesday September 29, 2010
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Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger this week appointed lesbian lawyer Angela Bradstreet to fill a vacancy on the San Francisco Superior Court. Bradstreet, a Democrat who broke with her party in 2006 when she publicly endorsed the Republican governor, has been serving as Schwarzenegger's labor commissioner since 2007.

The selection marks the third time the governor has tapped an out person to be a judge in the Bay Area and comes as another of his local judicial picks finds himself in a heated contest against a gay attorney to retain his seat on the San Francisco bench.

In that contest, Judge Richard Ulmer came in second to Michael Nava in the June primary and the two are waging a full court press for LGBT voters in the runoff election. Should Nava win he would be the first openly gay person of color to be elected a judge in California. [See story, page 9.]

The race has focused attention on the lack of openly gay judicial candidates being appointed by the governor to the state's courts. While Ulmer's backers contend the San Francisco bench is already diverse, in particular there are nearly a dozen out judges, Nava's supporters note that all of the openly gay and lesbian judges are Caucasian and there are only three Latinos serving on the bench.

Bradstreet, who is supporting Ulmer, was unavailable for an interview with the Bay Area Reporter Tuesday. In a statement, she said she is honored that the governor selected her to serve on the local bench.

"I am humbled and honored to be joining a wonderful group of judges on the San Francisco Superior Court. I have loved being in public service as the state labor commissioner for over three years and look forward to serving the public in my new role as a judge," stated Bradstreet.

Bradstreet, 55, was born in England and is Caucasian. She was named this year by the Nob Hill Gazette as one of its most eligible singles in the city. The Pacific Heights paper descried her as a "sensitive and fun English lesbian" who loves outdoor activities, exercise, movies as well as "wine and martinis with good friends and talking politics."

The Sausalito resident has been in the forefront of advocating for both women in the legal field and LGBT rights.

A former president of the Bar Association of San Francisco, Bradstreet led the fight to have California judges be barred from joining the Boy Scouts of America because of their anti-gay policies. In 2002 Bradstreet was instrumental in convincing the San Francisco Superior Court to cut its ties with the youth group. A year later her efforts led to new rules being adopted statewide calling for judges who belonged to the scouting group to recuse themselves from hearing gay rights cases.

During the fight against Proposition 8, the ban against same-sex marriage state voters passed in 2008, Bradstreet donated $1,000 toward the ultimately unsuccessful fight to defeat the measure through the Lawyers' Leadership Council for Equality, which was formed by the No on 8 campaign.

She was also a member of the local Bar Association's Marriage Fairness Task Force, which worked within the legal profession to convince lawyers why they should oppose Prop 8.

Eight years ago she created the No Glass Ceiling Task Force in order to see more women be hired by local law firms and corporate law departments. She was also a co-founder of Womentoring, a program that matched female mentors with other women and young girls.

She has been honored many times for her legal work, having received the California State Bar's annual Diversity Award; the Anti-Defamation League's Jurisprudence Award; and the Margaret Brent Award, the highest award given by the American Bar Association to women lawyers.

Bradstreet earned a Master of Laws degree from UC Berkeley's Boalt Hall School of Law and a Bachelor of Laws degree from the University of Bristol.

In 1980 she was hired as a legal research attorney and judicial clerk for the San Mateo Superior Court. The law firm Carroll, Burdick and McDonough then hired her as an associate in 1981; she eventually became a managing partner at the firm.

She will fill the vacancy on the court created by the resignation of Judge David Ballati. Bradstreet will earn $178,789 and is expected to be sworn in sometime in November.