Scope and Contents
Conditions Governing Use
Language of Material:
CJCL Special Collections and Archives
Title: Bernard E. Witkin Papers
Witkin, B. E. (Bernard Ernest), 1904-1995
Identifier/Call Number: MSS 0701
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.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org. 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.
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
Gift of Alba Witkin, 2008.
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.
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
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.
[Identification of item, date]; Bernard E. Witkin papers, MSS 0701; [box number, folder number]; California Judicial Center
Library, Special Collections and Archives.
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.
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.
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