Roger J. Traynor

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Roger J. Traynor
Roger J. Traynor.png
23rd Chief Justice of California
In office
September 1, 1964 February 2, 1970
Appointed by Pat Brown
Preceded by Phil S. Gibson
Succeeded by Donald R. Wright
Associate Justice of the California Supreme Court
In office
August 13, 1940 September 1, 1964
Appointed by Culbert Olson
Preceded by Phil S. Gibson
Succeeded by Stanley Mosk
Personal details
Born February 12, 1900
Park City, Utah, U.S.
Died May 14, 1983(1983-05-14) (aged 83)
Berkeley, California, U.S.
Spouse(s)
Madeline E. Lackman(m. 1933)
Children Michael J. Traynor, Joseph M. Traynor, and Stephen C. Traynor
Alma mater University of California, Berkeley (B.A., Ph.D., J.D.)

Roger John Traynor (February 12, 1900 May 14, 1983) served as the 23rd Chief Justice of California from 1964 to 1970, and as an Associate Justice from 1940 to 1964. A nationally respected jurist, Traynor's 30-year career as California's 77th Justice coincided with tremendous demographic, social, and governmental growth in California and in the United States of America, and was marked by a belief (in the words of his biographer, G. Edward White) that "the increased presence of government in American life was a necessary and beneficial phenomenon." [1]

Jurist legal scholar or academic, a professional who studies, teaches, and develops law

A jurist is someone who researches and studies jurisprudence. Such a person can work as an academic, legal writer or law lecturer. In the United Kingdom, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, and in many other Commonwealth countries, the word jurist sometimes refers to a barrister, whereas in the United States of America and Canada it often refers to a judge.

California State of the United States of America

California is a state in the Pacific Region of the United States. With 39.6 million residents, California is the most populous U.S. state and the third-largest by area. The state capital is Sacramento. The Greater Los Angeles Area and the San Francisco Bay Area are the nation's second- and fifth-most populous urban regions, with 18.7 million and 8.8 million residents respectively. Los Angeles is California's most populous city, and the country's second-most populous, after New York. California also has the nation's most populous county, Los Angeles County, and its largest county by area, San Bernardino County. The City and County of San Francisco is both the country's second-most densely populated major city and the fifth-most densely populated county.

A government is the system or group of people governing an organized community, often a state.

Contents

Early life, education and career

Traynor was born and raised in Park City, Utah, then a hardscrabble mining town, at the turn of the century by Felix and Elizabeth Traynor. His parents were impoverished Irish immigrants from Hilltown in Ireland. [2] [3]

Park City, Utah City in Utah, United States

Park City is a city in Summit County, Utah, United States. It is considered to be part of the Wasatch Back. The city is 32 miles (51 km) southeast of downtown Salt Lake City and 20 miles (32 km) from Salt Lake City's east edge of Sugar House along Interstate 80. The population was 7,558 at the 2010 census. On average, the tourist population greatly exceeds the number of permanent residents.

Mining The extraction of valuable minerals or other geological materials from the earth

Mining is the extraction of valuable minerals or other geological materials from the earth, usually from an orebody, lode, vein, seam, reef or placer deposit. These deposits form a mineralized package that is of economic interest to the miner.

Irish people Ethnic group with Celtic and other roots, native to the island of Ireland, with shared history and culture

The Irish are a Celtic nation and ethnic group native to the island of Ireland, who share a common Irish ancestry, identity and culture. Ireland has been inhabited for about 12,500 years according to archaeological studies. For most of Ireland's recorded history, the Irish have been primarily a Gaelic people. Anglo-Normans conquered parts of Ireland in the 12th century, while England's 16th/17th-century (re)conquest and colonisation of Ireland brought a large number of English and Lowland Scots people to parts of the island, especially the north. Today, Ireland is made up of the Republic of Ireland and the smaller Northern Ireland. The people of Northern Ireland hold various national identities including British, Irish, Northern Irish or some combination thereof.

In 1919, upon the advice of a high school teacher, he entered the University of California, Berkeley, though he had only $500 in savings to finance his college education. [2] Fortunately, he won a scholarship at the end of his first year due to his excellent grades, and went on to earn a B.A. in 1923, an M.A. in 1924, and a Ph.D. in 1926; all these degrees were in political science. He also earned a J.D. from Boalt Hall in 1927. He earned the two latter degrees at the same time, while also teaching undergraduates and serving as editor-in-chief of the California Law Review . He was subsequently admitted to the State Bar of California that same year. [2]

University of California, Berkeley Public university in California, USA

The University of California, Berkeley is a public research university in the United States. Located in the city of Berkeley, it was founded in 1868 and serves as the flagship institution of the ten research universities affiliated with the University of California system. Berkeley has since grown to instruct over 40,000 students in approximately 350 undergraduate and graduate degree programs covering numerous disciplines.

A scholarship is an award of financial aid for a student to further their education. Scholarships are awarded based upon various criteria, which usually reflect the values and purposes of the donor or founder of the award. Scholarship money is not required to be repaid.

A Bachelor of Arts is a bachelor's degree awarded for an undergraduate course or program in either the liberal arts, sciences, or both. Bachelor of Arts programs generally take three to four years depending on the country, institution, and specific specializations, majors, or minors. The word baccalaureus should not be confused with baccalaureatus, which refers to the one- to two-year postgraduate Bachelor of Arts with Honors degree in some countries.

At Boalt Hall, Traynor wrote groundbreaking articles on taxation, while serving as editor-in-chief of the California Law Review, and later became a full-time professor in 1936. [2] He also acted as a consultant to the California State Board of Equalization from 1932 to 1940, and to the United States Department of the Treasury from 1937 to 1940. [4] [5] He took a leave of absence from the University in 1933 to work full-time for the Board of Equalization, and another leave in 1937 to help the Treasury Department draft the Revenue Act of 1938. [2]

Professor academic rank at universities and other post-secondary education and research institutions in most countries

Professor is an academic rank at universities and other post-secondary education and research institutions in most countries. Literally, professor derives from Latin as a "person who professes" being usually an expert in arts or sciences, a teacher of the highest rank.

A consultant is a professional who provides expert advice in a particular area such as security, management, education, accountancy, law, human resources, marketing, finance, engineering, science or any of many other specialized fields.

United States Department of the Treasury United States federal executive department

The Department of the Treasury (USDT) is an executive department and the treasury of the United States federal government. Established by an Act of Congress in 1789 to manage government revenue, the Treasury prints all paper currency and mints all coins in circulation through the Bureau of Engraving and Printing and the United States Mint, respectively; collects all federal taxes through the Internal Revenue Service; manages U.S. government debt instruments; licenses and supervises banks and thrift institutions; and advises the legislative and executive branches on matters of fiscal policy.

Before the Great Depression, nearly all California governmental functions were funded only through a general property tax on both real and personal property. This proved unworkable when property values collapsed. Through his work for the Board of Equalization, Traynor was responsible for creating much of California's modern tax regime, including the vehicle registration fee (1933), sales tax (1933), income tax (1935), use tax (1935), corporate income tax (1937), and fuel tax (1937). [2] He served as the first administrator of the California sales tax and supervised its deployment across 200,000 retailers. [6] [7] [8]

Great Depression 20th-century worldwide economic depression

The Great Depression was a severe worldwide economic depression that took place mostly during the 1930s, beginning in the United States. The timing of the Great Depression varied across nations; in most countries it started in 1929 and lasted until the late-1930s. It was the longest, deepest, and most widespread depression of the 20th century. In the 21st century, the Great Depression is commonly used as an example of how intensely the world's economy can decline.

Vehicle registration plate metal or plastic identification plate attached to a motor vehicle or trailer

A vehicle registration plate, also known as a number plate or a license plate, is a metal or plastic plate attached to a motor vehicle or trailer for official identification purposes. All countries require registration plates for road vehicles such as cars, trucks, and motorcycles. Whether they are required for other vehicles, such as bicycles, boats, or tractors, may vary by jurisdiction. The registration identifier is a numeric or alphanumeric ID that uniquely identifies the vehicle owner within the issuing region's vehicle register. In some countries, the identifier is unique within the entire country, while in others it is unique within a state or province. Whether the identifier is associated with a vehicle or a person also varies by issuing agency. There are also electronic license plates.

A sales tax is a tax paid to a governing body for the sales of certain goods and services. Usually laws allow the seller to collect funds for the tax from the consumer at the point of purchase. When a tax on goods or services is paid to a governing body directly by a consumer, it is usually called a use tax. Often laws provide for the exemption of certain goods or services from sales and use tax.

In January 1940, he started working part-time as a Deputy Attorney General under California Attorney General Earl Warren (who later became Chief Justice of the United States). [2] He also started serving as Acting Dean of Boalt Hall, UC Berkeley's law school. [9]

Earl Warren United States federal judge

Earl Warren was an American jurist and politician who served as the 14th Chief Justice of the United States (1953–1969) and earlier as the 30th Governor of California (1943–1953). The Warren Court presided over a major shift in constitutional jurisprudence, with Warren writing the majority opinions in landmark cases such as Brown v. Board of Education, Reynolds v. Sims, and Miranda v. Arizona. Warren also led the Warren Commission, a presidential commission that investigated the 1963 assassination of President John F. Kennedy.

Chief Justice of the United States senior justice of the Supreme Court of the United States

The Chief Justice of the United States is the chief judge of the Supreme Court of the United States, and as such the highest-ranking judge of the federal judiciary. Article II, Section 2, Clause 2 of the Constitution grants plenary power to the President of the United States to nominate, and with the advice and consent of the United States Senate, appoint a chief justice, who serves until they resign, are impeached and convicted, retire, or die.

Judicial career

On July 31, 1940, Traynor was nominated to the Supreme Court of California by Governor Culbert Olson. [10] [11] He was unanimously confirmed by the Qualifications Committee on August 13 and was sworn in the same day. [2] [12] In December 1940, he was retained by the voters in the election. [13] [14] In August 1964, Chief Justice Phil S. Gibson stepped down from the bench, and Governor Pat Brown appointed Traynor to the post. [15]

Traynor has generally been viewed by the American legal community as the single greatest judge in the history of the California judiciary, and one of the greatest judges in the history of the United States. [16] His obituary in the New York Times noted that "Traynor was often called one of the greatest judicial talents never to sit on the United States Supreme Court." [17]

His 1948 opinion in Perez v. Sharp was the first instance of a state supreme court striking down a statute prohibiting miscegenation. Traynor also wrote a 1952 opinion that abolished the defense of recrimination in the context of divorce and paved the way for the social revolution of no-fault divorce. But his most significant and well-known contribution to contemporary American law is probably his 1963 creation of true strict liability in product liability cases. An earlier generation of judges had cautiously experimented with legal fictions like warranties to avoid leaving severely injured plaintiffs without any recourse. Traynor simply threw those away and imposed strict liability as a matter of public policy.

To those skeptical of government's power to redress social wrongs, Traynor's extraordinary work is notable for the degree to which it asserted the judiciary's power to resolve difficult issues of public policy, and to redefine the boundaries of corporate and governmental liability. In his biography of Traynor, White wrote: "If California was a testing ground for governmental theories of modern liberalism, Traynor was an architect of a judicial role compatible with the activities of the modern liberal state." [18]

During his long and distinguished career, Traynor authored more than 900 opinions, and he gained a reputation as the nation's leading state court judge. [16] [2] [19] [20] During his tenure, the decisions of the Supreme Court of California became the most frequently cited by all other state courts in the nation. Several of Traynor's decisions were majority opinions that transformed California from a conservative and somewhat repressive state into a progressive, innovative jurisdiction in the forefront of American law. [21]

Traynor was also noted for the quality of his writing and reasoning, [22] and was honored during his lifetime with membership in the American Academy of Arts and Sciences (a rare honor for a judge). [2] Many of his opinions are still mandatory reading for American law students. Also, Traynor did not uniformly join all opinions that could be characterized as "liberal" or "progressive" during his time on the Court; for example, he filed a two-sentence dissent in the landmark case of Dillon v. Legg (1968), [23] which was a major step towards the modern tort of negligent infliction of emotional distress.

Criticism

The liberal tendencies of much of Traynor's work has since made him the subject of extensive criticism from American libertarians and conservatives, and tort reformers have often grouped Traynor together with Earl Warren as examples of judicial activists. For example, the conservative magazine National Review attacked Traynor's reasoning in the Pacific Gas and Electric case (Pacific Gas & Elec. Co. v. G. W. Thomas Drayage Co., 69 Cal. 2d 33 (1968)) in a 1991 cover story. [24]

In 1998, Regulation (the Cato Institute's journal) published a harsh critique of the California tort law system by Stephen Hayward. He claimed that "rather than protecting life, liberty, and property, [it] has ... become a threat to these." [25] In blunt language, Hayward identified Roger Traynor's liberalizing influence on the Court's view of liability as "the first breach":

In the 1944 case of Escola v. Coca Cola Bottling Co. [26] ... Traynor introduced the idea of broad social fault. "I believe," Traynor wrote, "the manufacturer's negligence should no longer be singled out as the basis of a plaintiff's right to recover in cases like the present one." .... "Even if there is no negligence," Traynor wrote further, "public policy demands that responsibility be fixed wherever it will most effectively reduce the hazards to life and health inherent in defective products that reach the market." Note the appeal to the demands of public policy, rather than law .... While this line of reasoning might be the basis for a legislative debate over which public policies should be adopted to allocate and compensate for risk, Justice Traynor's opinion represents a clear case of legislation by judicial fiat.

In a 1966 essay addressed to both the legal community of his time and future generations, Traynor defended his judicial philosophy:

There are always some who note with alarm any appellate opinion that goes beyond a mechanical canvass of more or less established precedents. They include the diehards, dead set against all but familiar routines. They include the slothful, who would rationalize their own inertia. They also include carpers hostile toward any enlightenment, who would knowingly impair judicial vigil by keeping the visibility low. Slyly they equate justice with the blindfold image without articulating the corollary that decision would then be reduced to a blind toss of the coin. They do not state how problematic are the problems that reach the Supreme Court, and how great the need for judicial reasoning beyond formulas. [27]

Retirement

On January 2, 1970, Traynor announced his retirement in order to avoid losing eligibility for retirement benefits under a California law that stripped judges of most benefits if they chose to remain on the bench past age 70. [28] [29] He became chairman of the National News Council, concerned with freedom of the press. [30] [31] [32] Afterwards, he retired to Berkeley and subsequently died there in his home from cancer.

In July 1983, the California Law Review gave over all its space in issue 4, volume 71 to publishing eloquent tributes to Justice Traynor from several esteemed judges, law professors, and politicians, including Warren Burger, Henry Friendly, and Edmund G. Brown. [33]

Personal life

On August 23, 1933, Traynor married Madeleine Emilie Lackman, a woman who shared his love of learning: she already held a M.A. in political science from UC Berkeley and would go on to earn a J.D. in 1956. [2] They had three sons: Michael, Joseph, and Stephen. Michael followed his father into law; he attended Harvard Law School, became a partner with Cooley Godward Kronish LLP, and has served as president of The American Law Institute. [34] [35]

List of cases

See also

Notes

  1. White, G. Edward (1987). "Introduction," in The Traynor Reader: A Collection of Essays by the Honorable Roger J. Traynor. San Francisco: The Hastings Law Journal, Hastings College of the Law.
  2. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 Johnson, J. Edward (1966). History of Supreme Court, Vol 2, Justices, 1900-1950 (PDF). San Francisco, CA: Bancroft-Whitney Co. pp. 182–196. Retrieved October 3, 2017.
  3. Ledbetter, Les (May 17, 1983). "Roger J. Traynor, California Justice". New York Times. p. B7. Retrieved October 6, 2017.
  4. "Sales Taxes Cause Upset of Business". Madera Tribune (79). California Digital Newspaper Collection. 2 August 1933. p. 1. Retrieved October 3, 2017.
  5. "Officers to Collect Sales Tax Selected". San Bernardino Sun (39). California Digital Newspaper Collection. UPI. 3 August 1933. p. 15. Retrieved October 3, 2017. Roger J. Traynor, on leave from the University of California law school, was named division chief yesterday.
  6. "Divide State for Sales Tax". San Bernardino Sun (39). California Digital Newspaper Collection. Associated Press. 9 August 1933. p. 1. Retrieved October 3, 2017.
  7. "Business Men Confer With State Board About Troublesome Sales Tax Features". San Bernardino Sun (39). California Digital Newspaper Collection. Associated Press. 12 August 1933. p. 1. Retrieved October 3, 2017.
  8. "Chief Explains New Sales Law: Director Traynor Clears Up Disputed Points," Los Angeles Times , 4 August 1933, 11.
  9. Braitman, Jacqueline R.; Uelmen, Gerald F. (2012). Justice Stanley Mosk: A Life at the Center of California Politics and Justice. McFarland. p. 48. ISBN   0786468416.
  10. "Has Another Try Complete Court". Madera Tribune (80). California Digital Newspaper Collection. 31 July 1940. p. 1. Retrieved October 3, 2017.
  11. Dunlap, Jack W. (5 August 1940). "Politically Speaking: Warren Rebukes Olson, Governor Names Traynor, Youthful, Inexperienced". Healdsburg Tribune, Enterprise and Scimitar (88). California Digital Newspaper Collection. UPI. p. 2. Retrieved October 3, 2017.
  12. "Traynor Accepted in Supreme Court, University Professor Takes Oath of Office". Madera Tribune. California Digital Newspaper Collection. 14 August 1940. p. 1. Retrieved October 3, 2017.
  13. Dunlap, Jack W. (31 October 1940). "Politically Speaking: California is the Key State". Healdsburg Tribune, Enterprise and Scimitar (9). California Digital Newspaper Collection. UPI. p. 4. Retrieved October 3, 2017.
  14. "Johnson's Vote Makes Record in California". Healdsburg Tribune, Enterprise and Scimitar (20). California Digital Newspaper Collection. UPI. 9 December 1940. p. 1. Retrieved October 3, 2017.
  15. "Lynch Takes Mosk's Place, Swears Him In". Madera Tribune (79). California Digital Newspaper Collection. 1 September 1964. p. 2. Retrieved October 3, 2017.
  16. 1 2 Lawrence M. Friedman, A History of American Law 3rd ed. (New York: Simon & Schuster, 2005), 551, 688. ISBN   0743282582. Retrieved October 3, 2017.
  17. Les Ledbetter, "Roger J. Traynor, California Justice", New York Times , 17 May 1983, B6. Retrieved October 3, 2017.
  18. G. Edward White, American Judicial Tradition: Profiles of Leading American Judges, 3rd ed. (New York: Oxford University Press US, 2007), 247. ISBN   019972430X
  19. "Editorial: Wright: Justice of Principle". San Bernardino Sun. California Digital Newspaper Collection. 28 March 1985. p. 10. Retrieved October 3, 2017. Roger J. Traynor, an internationally respected jurist
  20. "Editorial: Phil Gibson's Efforts Forged Modern, Efficient Court System". San Bernardino Sun. California Digital Newspaper Collection. 1 May 1984. p. 12. Retrieved October 3, 2017. the membership of the court, which included such unusually gifted jurists as Roger J. Traynor
  21. DJ DeBenedictis, "Traynor dies at 83: led state court in progressive era," Los Angeles Daily Journal, 17 May 1983, 1
  22. Irving Younger, "Legal Writing All-Stars," ABA Journal 72, no. 12 (December 1986): 94-95.
  23. Dillon v. Legg (1968), 68 Cal. 2d 728
  24. L. Gordon Crovitz and Stephen Bates, "How law destroys order," National Review , 11 February 1991, 28-33
  25. Stephen Hayward, "Golden Lawsuits in the Golden State", Regulation 17, no. 3 (Summer 1998).
  26. Escola v. Coca Cola Bottling Co. (1944), 50 P.2d 436, 24 Cal. 2d 453.
  27. Roger J. Traynor, "The Supreme Court's Watch On The Law," in History of the Supreme Court Justices of California: Volume II, 1900-1950, ed. J. Edward Johnson, 206-211 (San Francisco: Bancroft-Whitney Company, 1966), 211. Retrieved October 3, 2017.
  28. "Reagan Has First Chance To Name a State Justice". Desert Sun (130). California Digital Newspaper Collection. UPI. 5 January 1970. p. 8. Retrieved October 3, 2017.
  29. "Coast Chief Justice to Resign; Reagan Will Choose Successor," New York Times , 3 January 1970, 7.
  30. "'Freedom of Press' Has Own Roadblocks". Desert Sun. California Digital Newspaper Collection. UPI. 3 July 1973. p. A3. Retrieved October 3, 2017.
  31. "Florida Rule Threat to Freedom of Press". Desert Sun. California Digital Newspaper Collection. UPI. 10 November 1973. p. 3A. Retrieved October 3, 2017.
  32. "Nixon's Charges Under Study". Desert Sun. California Digital Newspaper Collection. Capitol News Service. 17 November 1973. p. A4. Retrieved October 3, 2017.
  33. Warren Burger, "A tribute," California Law Review 71, no. 4 (July 1983): 1037-1038, Henry J. Friendly, "Ablest judge of his generation," California Law Review 71, no. 4 (July 1983): 1039-1044 and Edmund G. Brown, "A judicial giant," California Law Review 71, no. 4 (July 1983): 1053-1054.
  34. "Press release: Cooley Litigator, Michael Traynor, Named to American Academy of Appellate Lawyers". Marketwired.com. Cooley Godward LLP. April 12, 2006. Retrieved October 3, 2017.
  35. Michal Traynor profile. The American Law Institute. Retrieved October 3, 2017.
  36. Jeffrey Robert White, "Top 10 in torts: evolution in the common law," Trial 32, no. 7 (July 1996): 50-53.

Photographs

Further reading

Legal offices
Preceded by
Phil S. Gibson
Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of California
August 13, 1940-September 1, 1964
Succeeded by
Stanley Mosk
Chief Justice of California
September 1, 1964-February 2, 1970
Succeeded by
Donald R. Wright

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