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Citrus Heights lawyer Dana Cody is no stranger to controversy.

As executive director of the Life Legal Defense Foundation, she's defended Sacramento anti-abortion protesters and helped raise money in a vain attempt to keep Terri Schiavo alive in Florida.

But Cody said she's never before received the kind of threats her telephone voice mail has recorded since she filed a lawsuit challenging California's new stem cell research program.

"One was 'I hope your children get cancer and die,' " the 52-year-old grandmother said. "Several callers threatened to have me disbarred."

Emotions are running high because some of the stem cell program's supporters claim Cody's lawsuit and a proposed constitutional amendment could jeopardize the future of the 6-month-old program.

Both issues will be on the agenda when the stem cell agency's Independent Citizens Oversight Committee meets today in Sacramento, its first gathering in the capital. The panel moved its planned meeting from Irvine to the Sacramento Convention Center so it could lobby lawmakers to defeat Senate Constitutional Amendment 13.

The board is also set to privately discuss Cody's lawsuit, openly consider...