Thursday, June 22, 2017

Latest CSCHS newsletter

NOW AVAILABLE: Spring/Summer 2017 Newsletter

The latest issue of the California Supreme Court Historical Society’s Newsletter is now available on the Society’s website:

The lead article is an extraordinary in-depth account of the infamous case People v. Hall (1854), which one legal scholar argued contains “some of the most offensive racial rhetoric to be found in the annals of California appellate jurisprudence.” In a case that preceded the Dred Scott decision by three years, the California Supreme Court reversed the murder conviction of George W. Hall, “a free citizen of this state,” because three prosecution witnesses were Chinese. The Court held their testimony inadmissible under an 1850 statute providing that “no black or mulatto person, or Indian, shall be permitted to give evidence in favor or, or against, a white person.” Berkeley attorney and legal scholar Michael Traynor sets this shameful decision in the context of rising hostility to immigrants within California and the growing debate over slavery nationally. His fascinating account is followed with a “playbill,” adding newly uncovered information about the characters in this “California Tale.”

The issue also contains moving profiles of two prominent California attorneys of color — Y.C. Hong of Los Angeles, who became one of the foremost authorities on immigration reform and Chinese immigrant rights, and Northern Californian Cecil Poole, who in 1961 became the first African-American U.S. attorney in the continental United States.
We also take note of Justice Kathryn Werdegar’s announcement that she will retire from the Court in August with excerpts from her forthcoming oral history covering the years before she began her judicial career. Other articles explore The Wasp, an illustrated San Francisco political/satirical periodical that frequently targeted the justice system, and UCLA Law School’s controversial Riseborough Mural — its presence in the law library, removal and its rebirth as a coffee mug. We also debut a new occasional feature, “The Bookshelf,” highlighting recent books of particular interest to practitioners, judges and legal academics. 

We hope you enjoy this issue and welcome your comments at