3 Cal. Sup. Ct. Hist. Soc'y Y.B. 165 (1996-1997)
Justice Frank Newman: Some Reflections

handle is hein.journals/cashsy3 and id is 177 raw text is: Justice Frank Newman:
Some Reflections
Joseph R. Grodin*
Hastings College of the Law
When Frank Newman decided to leave the California Supreme Court
in 1982, and I inherited both his term of office and his chambers, he offered
me some words of caution: there were cockroaches, he said, lurking in his
bookcase, behind the multivolume treatise by Bernard Witkin on California
law. No wonder, I thought to myself. Newman was not the sort of judge
to find applicable law in a treatise. The cockroaches lived in a protected
When Governor Jerry Brown appointed Frank Newman to the Supreme
Court in 1977, at age 60, he brought with him a rich background of
experience in administrative law (which was his specialty in his early
teaching years), in practical administration (having been dean at Boalt
Hall), in government service (having served, among other things, as a
member of the executive committee and chairman of the drafting commit-
tee of the California Constitution Revision Commission) and in both the
scholarship and the practice of international human rights. He brought with
him also a personality full of youthful exuberance and enthusiasm about the
law. When he left the court five years later, I believe his enthusiasm had
dampened a bit. The day-to-day work of the court, and the nature of its
caseload-both heavy and often mundane-proved to be not to his liking.
One source of frustration was his inability to get his colleagues to accept
principles of international law as a basis for decision, though in one opinion
he did manage to work in a footnote reference to the United Nations
Declaration on Human Rights.
Anyone who has ever served as or around an appellate judge knows
that it is both inaccurate and unfair to assess an appellate judge's work on
a court on the basis solely of his or her written opinions. An appellate
court is a collegial body, and its opinions are formed by interaction among

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