Stanley Mosk, the influential and independent
associate justice who served a record 37 years on the California
Supreme Court, died last month at the age of 88. He worked in his
office until the day before his death and authored a majority opinion
released just days earlier.
Mosk was a giant in the law," said Chief Justice Ronald George, who
Mosk hired as a deputy attorney general when Mosk was California's
attorney general. "The body of Stanley Mosk's work is not-able 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."
Mosk was named to the Supreme Court on Sept. 1,
1964, by Gov. Ed-mund G. "Pat" Brown. He began his career as a
public servant in 1939 as the executive secretary and legal advisor to
Gov. Culbert Olson. He served as a judge of the Los Angeles Superior
Court from 1943 to 1959, when he became attorney general.
A strong advocate of individual liberties, Mosk
began to rely on the state Constitution as a way to preserve those
rights while the U.S. Supreme Court became increasingly conservative.
Although he offered a liberal perspective to the court, Mosk sometimes
sided with his conservative colleagues on criminal issues. He wrote
the controversial Bakke decision in 1976, finding race-based
university admissions unconstitutional.
During his long tenure, he wrote dozens of
landmark decisions, ranging from enhanced environmental protections to
new guarantees for criminal defendants and an increased ability to
file personal injury claims.