Metropolitan News-Enterprise


Tuesday, October 9, 2012


Page 3


Jesse Choper to Receive Witkin Medal From State Bar


By a MetNews Staff Writer


Legal scholar Jesse H. Choper has been chosen as the recipient of this year’s Bernard E. Witkin Medal, the State Bar of California said Friday.

The medal was established in 1993, and “recognizes attorneys, judges and legal scholars for a lifetime of work that has changed the legal landscape,” the State Bar explained in a release. It is named after its first recipient, the renowned legal scholar who died in 1995 at the age of 91.

“Professor Choper’s career has spanned many decades, has been extraordinary and has contributed a great deal to legal scholarship,” First District Court of Appeal Justice Maria Rivera, who chaired the selection committee, said in a statement. “He’s just had a great career in academia.”

 A graduate of the University of Pennsylvania School of Law, Choper clerked for Chief Justice Earl Warren after earning his law degree. He went on to teach at the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania and the University of Minnesota Law School before joining the UC Berkeley School of Law faculty—where he is currently the Earl Warren professor of public law—in 1965.

He was dean of that school from 1982 to 1992, and has been a visiting professor at Harvard Law School, the University of Milan and the University of New South Wales in Sydney, among others.

 For nearly 20 years, Choper was one of three major lecturers at U.S. Law Week’s Annual Constitutional Law Conference and has also lectured at major universities throughout the country. He has received numerous awards throughout his long career, including the Rutter Award for Teaching Distinction at Berkeley Law and a James Wilson Award from the University of Pennsylvania Law School, its most prestigious alumni award.

Choper’s numerous publications include the books, “Judicial Review and the National Political Process: A Functional Reconsideration of the Role of the Supreme Court,” and “Securing Religious Liberty: Principles for Judicial Interpretation of the Religion Clauses.”

The 77-year-old Choper also sits on the California Horse Racing Board, to which then-Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger appointed him in 2007 and reappointed him two years ago. He once described the sport as “a full-time hobby and my only one,” explaining that he attended races throughout northern California every weekend for nearly 40 years.

He is to receive the medal from State Bar President Jon Streeter Friday at the group’s annual meeting. A resolution signed by Streeter for the occasion thanks Choper for his exemplary service as well as “his courage in upholding the rule of law and understanding of the United States Constitution, [and] for his unwavering commitment to the concepts of equal access to justice and civil rights.”

Last year’s recipient of the medal was Court of Appeal Presiding Justice Joan Dempsey Klein of this district’s Div. Three. Previous honorees included Beth Jay, principal attorney to the chief justice; former State Bar President John Van de Kamp; and retired Chief Justice Ronald M. George.

The State Bar also announced a number of other awards to be presented during the annual meeting, which starts Thursday.

The Loren Miller Legal Services Award will be presented to Melinda R. Bird, the co-litigation director in the Los Angeles office of Disability Rights California. “With 33 years of her career devoted to legal services, Bird has helped thousands of low-income Californians and brought remarkable litigation that has not only expanded the rights and benefits of the poor, but inspired many other legal services attorneys and their work,” the State Bar said in its statement.

Ten lawyers, firms, and organizations, including Clifford R. Anderson Jr., “a volunteer commissioner in Norwalk, who donated much of his time in 2011 to help low-income clients struggling with family law issues,” and Southwestern Law School’s Small Claims Project, “which helps low-income residents seek justice through Los Angeles County’s small claims courts,” are the recipients of the President’s Pro Bono Service Awards for 2012.

The other recipients are Ellen Jane Eggers, a deputy state public defender in Sacramento; lawyers at Snell & Wilmer’s Orange County office in Costa Mesa; Michelle de Blank, a Palo Alto attorney and Legal Aid Society of San Mateo volunteer; Jonathan Mark Kaiho, a new lawyer and Legal Aid Society of Orange County volunteer; Grace Carter, a partner at Paul Hastings in San Francisco involved with Bay Area Legal Aid and the Public Interest Law Project; Mayte Santacruz, a recently admitted lawyer who volunteered with the Public Law Center in Orange County; and Leslie McAdam of Ventura, a Santa Clara Valley Legal Aid volunteer.

The Jack Berman Award of Achievement will be presented by the California Young Lawyers Association to Ana de Alba, with Lang, Richert and Patch in Fresno. The Diversity Award goes to Charlene Usher of Chino; Sedgwick LLP; and Bay Area Lawyers for Individual Freedom; the Education Pipeline Award to the Law Fellows Program at UCLA School of Law; and the Benjamin Aranda III Access to Justice Award to Imperial Superior Court Judge Juan Ulloa.


Copyright 2012, Metropolitan News Company