User:OCNative/In re Governorship

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In re Governorship (Brown v. Curb)
CA SC seal.png
Court Supreme Court of California
Full case name In re the Petition of the Commission on the Governorship of California. Edmund G. Brown, Jr., as Governor, etc., et al., Petitioners, v. Mike Curb, as Lieutenant Governor, etc., et al., Respondents
Decided December 27 1979
Citation(s) 26 Cal. 3d 110; 603 P.2d 1357; 160 Cal. Rptr. 760; 1979 Cal. LEXIS 336
Case history
Prior action(s) Original action filed in California Supreme Court
Subsequent action(s) None
The Lieutenant Governor may exercise any and all powers of the Governor during the Governor's absence from the state.
Court membership
Judge(s) sitting Acting Chief Justice Mathew O. Tobriner
Associate Justices Stanley Mosk, William P. Clark, Jr., Frank K. Richardson, Wiley W. Manuel, Frank C. Newman
Case opinions
Majority Manuel, joined by Tobriner, Mosk, Clark, Richardson, Taylor
Concurrence Newman
Laws applied
California Constitution Article V § 10

In re the Petition of the Commission on the Governorship of California. (Jerry Brown v. Mike Curb), 26 Cal. 3d 110, 603 P.2d 1357 (Cal. 1979), was a case in the state of California that determined that the Lieutenant Governor could exercise the full powers of the Governor during the absence of the Governor.


The case was an automatic appeal to the court under California Penal Code § 1239b.

Robert Page Anderson was convicted of first degree murder, attempted murder of three men, and first degree robbery. The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the lower court in 1966, but reversed its decision with respect to the sentence of the death penalty following the landmark case, Witherspoon v. Illinois (1968). The case was retried on the issue of the defendant's penalty, and the jury again returned a verdict of death.


The court ruled that the use of capital punishment was considered impermissibly cruel and unusual as it degraded and dehumanized the parties involved. Furthermore the court also cited the view of capital punishment in American society as one of the most important reasons for its acceptability, contending that a growing population and decreasing amount of executions was persuasive evidence that such a punishment was no longer condoned by the general public.

The state contended that while the use of capital punishment served no rehabilitating purposes, it was a legitimate punishment for retribution in serious offenses, in that it served to isolate the offender, and was a useful deterrent to crime. The court rejected the state's defense citing that there were far less onerous means of isolating the offender, and the lack of proof that capital punishment is an effective deterrent.


Justice Marshall F. McComb wrote a brief dissent on the basis that the landmark case, Furman v. Georgia was currently on the docket of the Supreme Court of the United States and that the court should await its decision before ruling.


The case caused all persons sentenced to death in the state of California to be commuted to life in prison.

Later in 1972 the people of the state passed a constitutional amendment overturning the court ruling and reinstating the death penalty. Due to extensive appellate and habeas corpus litigation in capital cases, no death sentences were carried out until 1992 when Robert Alton Harris was executed in the gas chamber.

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