Allen Broussard

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Allen E. Broussard
Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of California
In office
1981–1991
Preceded by William P. Clark, Jr.
Succeeded by Ronald M. George
Personal details
Born (1929-04-13)April 13, 1929
Lake Charles, Louisiana
Died November 5, 1996(1996-11-05) (aged 67)
Oakland, California
Nationality United States
Alma mater University of California, Berkeley (B.A., J.D)

Allen E. Broussard (April 13, 1929 – November 5, 1996) was an African-American judge who rose to become a justice of the California Supreme Court.

He was born in Lake Charles, Louisiana on April 13, 1929, the son of Clemire and Eugenia Broussard. At the age of 16, he moved with his family to California. His father was a longshoreman, and his mother worked as a seamstress.

As a young man, Broussard had various part-time jobs, including selling shoes and working in a canning plant. He financed his own education, first at San Francisco City College, then UC Berkeley, and finally Boalt Hall School of Law. While at Boalt, he was Vice-President of the Boalt Hall Law Students Association and a contributor to the California Law Review. After graduating in 1953, he served in the United States Army for two years. After leaving the Army, he became the research attorney for Presiding Justice Raymond Peters.

As chairman of a civic organization called Men of Tomorrow, he contacted Odessa Monroe, the program director of the radio station KSAN, seeking free air time. He went on to marry her in 1959, and they had two sons, Keith and Craig.

He was the first African-American to be elected President of the California Judges Association (1972). He also became Chairman of the Board of the Center for Judicial Education and Research.

He was part of a coterie that used to meet at the pharmacy of William Byron Rumford, along with Lionel Wilson.

After retiring from the judiciary, Broussard served on the Oakland Port Commission, which involved visiting ports around the world, especially Asia. In 1987, he led a group of 72 lawyers and city officials on a 3-week long trip to China meeting the Mayor of Shanghai, Jiang Zemin. Shanghai is a "twin city" of San Francisco.

Career[edit]

Broussard was one of the first African-Americans to become a judge in California. He was a judge of the Municipal Court for the Oakland-Piedmont (later Oakland-Piedmont-Emeryville) Judicial District from 1964 to 1975. In 1975, he became judge of the Superior Court of Alameda County . His record caught the attention of Democratic Governor Jerry Brown, who appointed him to the California Supreme Court in 1981, where he served as Associate Justice.

On the Court, Broussard was a leading liberal in the Court's majority, including Chief Justice Rose Bird. He wrote the majority of opinions for the court at that time [1]. By 1982, five of the seven justices on the court were Brown appointees, who were widely criticized as allegedly soft on crime and overly political. Even though the judges had different individual philosophies, they were lumped together by conservative politicians as "Jerry's judges". Critics repeatedly claimed that Broussard and other Brown appointees ruled on the basis of personal opinion and political bias rather than the law and the state Constitution. In 1982, Broussard was up for reconfirmation. A campaign was waged against him and the other Brown appointees on the ballot that year (Cruz Reynoso and Otto Kaus), something that was unprecedented in California history. Broussard was reconfirmed, as expected, with 56% of the vote, but that was below the typical confirmation vote. In 1986, three of his colleagues (Bird, Cruz Reynoso, and Joseph Grodin, were resoundingly voted off the court, and they were replaced by more conservative justices. Broussard was disturbed by this development and expressed fear that the judiciary would become politicized.

Broussard continued to serve on the Court until he retired in 1991.

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