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Former Chief Justice Bird Dies

December 5, 1999

SACRAMENTO (AP) _ Former California Supreme Court Chief Justice Rose Bird, the first woman to serve on the state’s highest court, died Saturday. She was 63.

Bird was appointed to the court’s top job in 1977 by then-Democratic Gov. Jerry Brown and became was one of the most controversial figures in the court’s history, mainly because of her opposition to the death penalty.

She and two other Brown appointees were the first justices removed by voters in 1986.

Bird dropped out of public sight in the subsequent years, even letting her California State Bar Association dues lapse.

A few years ago a Los Angeles Times reporter found Bird living in Palo Alto. She was working as a volunteer in a legal aide office and the people there did not know she was a former chief justice.

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