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Witkin (Bernard E.) Papers
MSS 0701  
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Collection Details
 
Table of contents What's This?
  • Access
  • Restricted Materials
  • Acquisition Information
  • Arrangement
  • Biographical Note
  • Preferred Citation
  • Processing Information
  • Related Materials
  • Scope and Contents
  • Separated Materials
  • Conditions Governing Use

  • Language of Material: English
    Contributing Institution: CJCL Special Collections and Archives
    Title: Bernard E. Witkin Papers
    Creator: Witkin, B. E. (Bernard Ernest), 1904-1995
    Identifier/Call Number: MSS 0701
    Physical Description: 38 Linear Feet (34 legal document boxes, 7 cartons, 7 flat boxes, 1 map case drawer, plus furnishings)
    Date (inclusive): 1917-2020
    Abstract: The collection consists of correspondence, speeches and lectures, publications, interviews, certificates, awards, artifacts, and other materials documenting Witkin's personal and professional life and legal legacy between the years 1917 and 2020. The bulk of the collection consists of correspondence exchanged between Witkin and family members, friends, and colleagues between the years 1931 and 1995; and approximately 200 speeches and lectures given by Witkin beginning in 1944 and continuing until his death in 1995. Other materials include articles and publications written by or about Witkin (1920-2020); subject files created by Witkin, organized by topic or organization (1944-1995); photographs of Witkin with family members, friends, and other legal luminaries (1920-1997); and awards, personal effects, artwork, and furnishings (1970-1995).
    Language of Material: Collection materials are in English.

    Access

    Collection is open for research upon approval of written request. Requests should be submitted to: California Judicial Center Library, Special Collections and Archives, 455 Golden Gate Avenue, Room 4617, San Francisco, CA, 94102-7013, or by e-mail to archives@jud.ca.gov. All researchers must sign the California Judicial Center Library Special Collections Access Agreement form. This agreement can be sent electronically by request. Records in the collection may contain confidential information, as defined in the Access Agreement. Publication or disclosure of such information is strictly prohibited.

    Restricted Materials

    Confidential records, including internal communications between Supreme Court of California justices and between California Supreme Court justices and staff, attorney-client privileged communications, and communications between California Supreme Court justices or court employees and third parties that reveal details of the court's decision-making processes, are restricted and closed to research use.
    Confidential records related to the California Supreme Court rules on appeal are restricted and closed to research use (Boxes 47-48).

    Acquisition Information

    Gift of Alba Witkin, 2008.

    Arrangement

    The collection is arranged into seven series: 1) Biographical materials; 2) Correspondence; 3) Speeches and lectures; 4) Interviews, writings, and publications; 5) Subject files; 6) Photographs; and 7) Awards and artifacts.

    Biographical Note

    Bernard E. Witkin was born on May 22, 1904, in Holyoke, Massachusetts. A graduate of the University of California, Berkeley (BA, 1925), Witkin obtained his legal education at the university's School of Law (JD, 1928).
    After working in private practice in San Francisco, Witkin became California Supreme Court Justice William B. Langdon's legal secretary in 1930. In 1939, he began service as legal secretary for California Supreme Court Justice Phil S. Gibson. In 1940, Witkin became the Reporter of Decisions for both the California Courts of Appeal and California Supreme Court. California Supreme Court Chief Justice Gibson selected Witkin to draft new Judicial Council rules on appeal in August 1941, a project he completed in 1943.
    Witkin left his position as Reporter of Decisions in 1949, and shifted to focusing on legal writing, an activity which would encompass the remainder of his career. His landmark work, Summary of California Law, began in 1927 as a bar exam guide for fellow Berkeley law students. Additional publications for which Witkin is well-known include California Procedure, California Evidence, California Criminal Procedure, and California Criminal Law. These treatises have been cited in tens of thousands of decisions made by the California Supreme Court and Courts of Appeal.
    Witkin also established the Foundation for Judicial Education, which provides continuing education and benchbooks to California judges. He served as an advisory member to the California Judicial Council for many years, offering his opinion regarding potential judicial appointments to the California courts. Bernard Witkin and his wife Alba Witkin were dedicated philanthropists, establishing the Bernard E. & Alba Witkin Charitable Foundation in 1982. Witkin died on December 23, 1995, in his home in Berkeley, California. In 1997, the law library of the California State Library was designated as the Bernard E. Witkin State Law Library of California.

    Preferred Citation

    [Identification of item, date]; Bernard E. Witkin papers, MSS 0701; [box number, folder number]; California Judicial Center Library, Special Collections and Archives.

    Processing Information

    The processing of the collection was completed by Marie Silva in 2021. Materials had been partially arranged by CJCL staff between 2008 and 2020. Silva arranged the collection into series based on the order of the papers as found. Original folder titles were retained, when present. Unorganized materials were processed and filed into existing series and subseries. Confidential materials were identified and restricted.

    Related Materials

    The following collection provides additional information about Bernard E. Witkin: Collection on B. E. Witkin, MSS 1302.

    Scope and Contents

    The collection consists of correspondence, speeches and lectures, publications, interviews, awards, artifacts, and other materials documenting Witkin's personal and professional life and legal legacy between the years 1917 and 2020. The bulk of the collection consists of correspondence exchanged between Witkin and family members, friends, and colleagues between the years 1931 and 1995; and approximately 200 speeches and lectures given by Witkin beginning in 1944 and continuing until his death in 1995. Other materials include articles and publications written by or about Witkin (1920-2020); subject files created by Witkin, organized by topic or organization (1944-1995); photographs of Witkin with family members, friends, and other legal luminaries (1920-1997); and awards, personal effects, artwork, and furnishings (1970-1995).
    This body of materials reflects Witkin's early years as a a student at UC Berkeley; his service as a legal secretary and Reporter of Decisions at the California Supreme Court, and relationships with state Supreme Court justices William Langdon and Phil Gibson; his long and influential career as an author of legal treatises; his commitment to legal reform and judicial education; and his civic and philanthropic work. Collection materials also provide insight into Witkin's evolving legal philosophy; his perspectives on the character, history, and direction of the California Supreme Court; and his impact on law in California.

    Separated Materials

    Witkin's books were separated from the collection and cataloged as monographs. These titles are searchable via the California Judicial Center Library's catalog and can be identified by the local note "Copy in Witkin collection."

    Conditions Governing Use

    Copyright (or related rights to publicity and privacy) for materials in this collection, created by Bernard E. Witkin, was not transferred to the California Judicial Center Library. Permission for reproduction or publication of materials in this collection beyond that allowed by fair use must be secured from the Bernard E. and Alba Witkin Charitable Trust.

    Subjects and Indexing Terms

    California. Supreme Court -- History
    Justice, Administration of -- California
    Law -- California
    Legal literature -- Publishing -- California
    California. Supreme Court