California's top cop says laws are not the answer.
Of course, that comes from Attorney General Jerry Brown, who:
Studied for the priesthood
Was nicknamed "Gov. Moonbeam" during his eight years at the Capitol, when he lived in a low-rent apartment and drove his own car
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Abandoned politics to study Spanish in Mexico, learn from a Zen master in Japan and help Mother Teresa care for India's dying
Ran for president three times, then rolled up his sleeves and became mayor of Oakland
Topped it all off Friday by getting a few laughs out of a buttoned-down crowd of lawyers and judges who gathered at the Gallo Center for the Arts to celebrate Law Day.
"Be skeptical of freedom through more laws," Brown said.
The man who supervises 1,000 prosecutors hearkened back to the Cold War era when good and evil seemed obvious and people didn't worry about seat belt laws or gun registries.
He bemoaned the state's overcrowded prison system, saying it is impossible to manage because lawsuits over the treatment of inmates have yielded 15 different consent decrees aimed at improving conditions.
He noted that third-graders spend as many hours taking tests as law school graduates spend taking the bar exam.
He quoted a former professor who said there will be no laws in heaven, and nothing but due process in hell.
And he concluded that life is just too scripted these days.
"It's not the rule of law," Brown quipped, "so much as the rule of laws."
Attorney Kathy Monday, president of the Stanislaus County Bar Association, said Brown was tapped because he has held nearly every government job and was sure to entertain the crowd. Her prediction came true, as Brown kept the crowd laughing and got a standing ovation at the end.
"If he doesn't know about the rule of law," Monday said, "I don't know who would."
Bee staff writer Susan Herendeen can be reached at email@example.com or 578-2338.