Honoring the record service of justice Stanley Mosk, California Supreme Court (1964-present).

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.


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. I, along with the other justices, look forward to many more productive years with you, together serving the people of our great state.

I would now like to introduce Richard Mosk, Justice Mosk's son and a prominent national and international legal practitioner.


Chief Justice George and Associate Justices, may it please the court:

I have had the privilege of arguing cases before this court, but never without at least one pro tem justice, for obvious reasons. So I am pleased today to address the full court.

Stanley Mosk was born in San Antonio, Texas, around the time of the Titanic disaster. The family moved to Rockford, Illinois. There, he was class president of his high school and avidly interested in journalism.

Stanley Mosk graduated from the University of Chicago, where he played first base on a baseball team and attended Chicago Law School. The family ran out of money during the Depression years, and therefore they headed West.

In Los Angeles, he completed law school and began the practice of law as a sole practitioner. He described his practice as consisting of a $25 case and two smaller ones.

He was interested in politics, following the famous campaign of Upton Sinclair for Governor of California, and participating in some local campaigns. During that period, he met and married my now deceased mother, Edna. She played a major role in his career.

Having been deeply involved in the Culbert Olson campaign for Governor in 1938, he was invited into the administration, first as clemency secretary and then as executive secretary to the Governor. His patron was his law school professor, Phil S. Gibson, who was a director of finance in the Olson administration and later Chief Justice of California.

Governor Olson also appointed him to the University of California Board of Regents. Governor Olson lost his reelection bid to a person considered by those in the Olson administration to be a reactionary--Attorney General Earl Warren. Later, the Warren and Mosk families became quite close. Stanley Mosk used to apologize to the United States Supreme Court Chief Justice for all the votes he had cast against him. When Chief Justice Earl Warren announced his resignation, he recommended three people to President Johnson as his successor. One of them was Stanley Mosk. President Johnson nominated Justice Fortas, who was not confirmed.

In the last days of the Olson administration, Governor Olson told Stanley Mosk that he, Governor Olson, was appointing him to the Los Angeles Municipal Court and immediately to take the necessary papers to the Secretary of State's office. Stanley Mosk, although delighted, failed to heed that instruction. That night the Governor called and asked if he had filed the papers. Stanley Mosk was embarrassed to say he had not. At that point the Governor said he had decided to appoint him to the Los Angeles Superior Court and someone else to the municipal court. So procrastination is how Stanley Mosk became the youngest superior court judge. In his first case as a trial judge, one of his jury instructions led to a reversal. The prevailing lawyer was the great litigator, Joe Ball. (Eckman v. Arnold Taxi Co. (1944) 64 Cal.App.2d 229.)

At the next election, Judge Mosk drew opposition--Judge Ida May Adams, known as the "marrying judge" for all of the marriage ceremonies she performed, and Judge Leroy Dawson, a veteran disabled in World War I. Dawson attacked Stanley Mosk by saying that "We should not have a judge in his childhood." Stanley Mosk replied, "Better a judge in his childhood than one in his second childhood." (He looks at it differently now.) He was reelected by the largest margin in history for a contested superior court election up to that time.

Although exempt from the draft and rendering service in the Coast Guard, Stanley Mosk implored the Director of Selective Service to overlook his judicial position and deficient eyes because of a desire to serve his country in World War II. He memorized the eye chart and, with the benign neglect of the Director of Selective Service, passed the physical examination and enlisted as a private in the Army. He served in the Transportation Corps--an odd assignment for a nearsighted soldier. He rose to private first class. Later, when Attorney General, he was once introduced at an event as follows: "General Mosk, I would like you to meet Omar Bradley." That give [sic] him a thrill. Fortunately, Governor Earl Warren did not fill Judge Mosk's superior court seat, so that he was able to return to it after the war.

As a trial judge Stanley Mosk had some memorable cases. As a young superior court judge, he ruled, at a time before Shelley v. Kraemer (1948) 334 U.S. 1, that a covenant restricting the ownership of real property to Caucasians was constitutionally not enforceable. Judge Mosk said in his ruling:

There is no allegation, and no suggestion, that any of these defendants would not be law-abiding neighbors and citizens of the community. The only objection to them is their color and race. We read in columns in the press each day about un-American activities. This court feels there is no more reprehensible un-American activity than to attempt to deprive persons of their own houses on a "master race" theory. Our nation just fought against the Nazi race superiority doctrines. One of these defendants was in that war and is a Purple Heart veteran. This court would indeed be callous to his constitutional rights if it were now to permit him to be ousted from his own home by using `race' as the measure of his worth as a citizen and a neighbor. (Los Angeles Sentinel (Oct. 30, 1947) p. 1.) Despite his personal opposition to the death penalty, Judge Mosk imposed a death penalty in a case. His decision to admit a confession in that case was upheld narrowly by the United States Supreme Court. (Crooker v. California (1958) 357 U.S. 433.) Under Miranda v. Arizona (1966) 384 U.S. 436, 479, footnote 48, Escobedo v. Illinois (1964) 378 U.S. 478, 491-492, and Massiah v. United States (1964) 377 U.S. 201, 206-207, his decision is...

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