The Courts, the Legal Profession, and the Development of Law in Early California

Gordon Morris Bakken

in Taming the Elephant

Published by University of California Press

Published in print April 2003 | ISBN: 9780520234116
Published online March 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780520936485 | DOI:
The Courts, the Legal Profession, and the Development of Law in Early California

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This chapter treats the development of the California courts and the legal system. It explores the constitutional underpinnings of California's initial judicial efforts and finds that they reflected “the popular sovereignty and Jacksonian democratic rhetoric of the times.” There was substantial judicial activity in the constitutional era that was far from amateurish and that this activity contributed materially to California's maturation as a state. The legislature, in addition to electing justices to the Supreme Court, was passing laws designed to institutionalize civic racism. The California Supreme Court in its first decade disposed of a variety of tort claims. Although the legislature and Supreme Court records on race were dismal, the development of law and the interaction of the bar and the courts, the legislators, and the people worked to establish a foundation that would enable California to emerge as a leader in private law and public policy.

Keywords: California; Supreme Court; legal system; popular sovereignty; Jacksonian democratic rhetoric; judicial activity; legislature; private law; public policy

Chapter.  8280 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: History of the Americas

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