Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger named San Francisco appellate judge Carol Corrigan to the California Supreme Court on Friday, deciding on a moderate Republican and former prosecutor to fill the post of conservative jurist Janice Rogers Brown.
"This is the best of the best that we have in the state," Schwarzenegger said during a Capitol news conference called to introduce her.
Corrigan, 57, was born and raised in Stockton and now resides in Oakland.
She served as a deputy district attorney and later as senior deputy district attorney for the Alameda County District Attorney's Office, from 1975-85.
A Republican sitting on the 1st District Court of Appeal in San Francisco, she succeeds Brown, who resigned in June after the U.S. Senate confirmed her to the federal appeals court in Washington, D.C.
Brown was the only black on the seven-member court, prompting speculation that Schwarzenegger would name another black to maintain the court's ethnic balance. He also was said to have closely considered Vance Raye, a black Republican sitting on the 3rd District Court of Appeal in Sacramento. Corrigan is white.
Schwarzenegger said his only concern in naming a successor was finding the most qualified person and making a decision that "was best for California." He praised Corrigan as being someone of "unimpeachable character."
"She is a brilliant jurist, and for the past 12 years she has done a magnificent job on the First District Court of Appeal," he said. "Justice Corrigan is careful, thoughtful, quick-witted and brings a deliberate, detail-oriented approach to the law. She will bring honor to California's high court and serve the people with dignity and integrity."
Corrigan is a Catholic whose father was a journalist and held a variety of other positions with Stockton Record newspaper. Her mother was a librarian.
Corrigan, who will earn $182,071 annually in the new appointment, was a trial judge in Alameda County when she was appointed in 1994 to the appellate court by one of Schwarzenegger's political mentors, former Gov. Pete Wilson.
She served as a municipal court judge and district attorney in Alameda County, across the bay from San Francisco.
At a glanceName: Carol A. Corrigan
Current position: Associate justice, 1st District Court of Appeal, San Francisco.
Professional background: Alameda County deputy district attorney, 1975-85; senior deputy district attorney, 1985-87; Alameda County Municipal Court judge, 1987-91; Alameda County Superior Court judge, 1991-94; associate justice, 1st District Court of Appeal, 1994-present. Corrigan also has held several law school teaching positions.
Education: Bachelor of arts degree, magna cum laude, from Holy Names College, 1970; graduate work in clinical psychology, St. Louis University, 1970-72; law degree from Hastings College of the Law, University of California, 1975.
Court watchers had predicted the governor would tap Corrigan or Raye because of their party affiliation, seniority and judicial philosophies.
The pressure on Schwarzenegger to name a conservative to the bench had grown in recent days, after he angered many Republicans by naming a liberal Democrat to be his chief of staff.
But on Friday, the governor said politics played no role in his decision to nominate Corrigan.
News-Sentinel staff contributed to this report.