Honoring the Record Service of Justice Stanley Mosk, California Supreme Court (1964-Present)

Article excerpt

The Supreme Court of California convened in the courtroom of the Earl Warren Building, 350 McAllister Street, Fourth Floor, San Francisco, California, on January 7, 2000, at 9:00 a.m.

Present: Chief Justice Ronald M. George presiding, and Associate Justices Mosk, Kennard, Baxter, Werdegar, Chin, and Brown. Officers present: Brian Clearwater, Calendar Coordinator; and Harry Kinney, Bailiff.

CHIEF JUSTICE GEORGE:

Good morning. This being an historic occasion, it is appropriate that the court has been called to order by our historic bailiff, Elliott Williams, who has come out of retirement to be here today. Thank you, Elliott.

It is with great pleasure that I welcome you to this unique session celebrating the record service of Associate Justice Stanley Mosk on the Supreme Court of California. The court scheduled this proceeding over the relatively mild dissent of Justice Mosk. Appointed on September 1, 1964, he surpassed the previous 35-year, record tenure of Justice John Shenk on December 26, 1999. I should note that in honor of Justice Mosk's accomplishments, Governor Gray Davis denominated December 26th as "Stanley Mosk Day" in California.

Our celebration today is of more than longevity, however. It is a celebration of a career dedicated to public service, and remarkable for the consistently high quality of its contributions.

I first met Stanley Mosk in 1964 when as Attorney General of California he hired me, fresh out of law school, as a deputy attorney general. He was elevated to the Supreme Court a few months later, and I soon found myself in an entirely different position--arguing before him, instead of on his behalf. In either role, he was a challenging inspiration.

A few years later, our relationship changed yet again when I joined the trial bench. Throughout my service on the trial bench and subsequently on the Court of Appeal, I felt a connection with Justice Mosk in two ways that may well be familiar to anyone who has sat on the bench in California. First, in deciding a difficult issue of law, it is always a pleasure to find that Justice Mosk has written an opinion on the question. Second, if a decision that you render makes its way up to the Supreme Court, you always hope that Justice Mosk agreed so that you need not experience his dissection of an analysis that seemed perfectly sound at the time you made it.

When I joined the Supreme Court as an associate justice, I was greatly honored to enter the fourth stage of my relationship with Justice Mosk by joining him as a colleague. In the eight years we have served together on the same bench, I have been fortunate to move to a seat next to his on the bench and in the court's conference room. Thus, it has been readily apparent, whether on the bench questioning advocates, or in postargument or petition conferences debating legal issues, that Justice Mosk remains an active contributor whose experience and wisdom enrich our court's deliberations.

The body of Stanley Mosk's work is notable not only for its quantity, but for its quality. In opinions touching on such diverse topics as jury selection, racial discrimination, products liability, the rights of disabled parents, and arbitration of health care issues, he has brought his powers of analysis to bear and has reached results that time and again have been echoed by the United States Supreme Court and the supreme courts of other states. Justice Mosk has been an eloquent proponent of federalism and of independent state constitutional grounds. His voice has widely been heard and respected not only in California, but across the nation.

The Supreme Court of California celebrates its 150th anniversary in just two months. Remarkably, Stanley Mosk's service spans almost 25 percent of the court's own tenure. On behalf of the Supreme Court--colleagues and staff alike--and of the entire court system of California, congratulations. …