California Bar Journal
CBJ - November 2012 #06.
UC Berkeley's Choper receives Witkin award
The California LawyerNovember 2012UC Berkeley's Choper receives Witkin award By Amy YarbroughStaff WriterFor more than 50 years, renowned constitutional scholar Jesse H. Choper has been inspiring law students and teaching them, as outgoing State Bar president Jon Streeter put it, "how to think like a lawyer." Last month, Choper was recognized for those and myriad other contributions to the legal profession with the Bernard E. Witkin Medal.
Earl Warren Professor of Public Law at UC Berkeley School of Law, Choper received the lifetime achievement award on Oct. 12 at the State Bar's Annual Meeting in Monterey. Established in 1993, the Witkin Medal recognizes lawyers, judges and legal scholars whose extraordinary work has helped to shape the legal landscape. Past recipients including Presiding Justice Joan Dempsey Klein of the Second District California Court of Appeal, former California Supreme Court Justice Cruz Reynoso and Beth Jay, principal attorney to the Chief Justice of California.
In a recent interview, Choper recalled looking at the list of past recipients after learning he would be receiving the award and being very pleased and extremely honored to join the group.
"To be listed with those people ... what can I say? It is very, very nice," he said.
Streeter, a former student of Choper's, presented him with the award and credited his onetime professor with helping to mold generations of lawyers and instilling in them the importance of service.
"He truly represents the very best of the legal profession," Streeter said. "He is an example to all of us."
A lecturer, author and expert on constitutional and corporation law, Choper got his start after law school clerking for Chief Justice Earl Warren of the U.S. Supreme Court. But he soon discovered his calling was academia, landing teaching jobs at the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania and the University of Minnesota Law School before joining the Berkeley faculty in 1965.
"Had he chosen to practice law, I am sure he would have been among the most distinguished in the country," Streeter said.
Fellow Berkeley Law Professor John Yoo said he could think of no other law professor in the state more deserving of the award.
"He is one of the most influential scholars of...