Contact: Laura Ernde 



San Francisco, Oct. 5, 2012 – Jesse H. Choper, esteemed author, lecturer and Earl Warren Professor of Public Law at UC Berkeley School of Law, has been chosen as the recipient of this year’s Bernard E. Witkin Medal.

Established in 1993, the Witkin Medal recognizes attorneys, judges and legal scholars for a lifetime of work that has changed the legal landscape.

“Professor Choper’s career has spanned many decades, has been extraordinary and contributed a great deal to legal scholarship,” said California Court of Appeal Justice Maria Rivera, who chaired the selection committee for the award. “He’s just had a great career in academia.”

A graduate of the University of Pennsylvania School of Law, Choper clerked for Chief Justice Earl Warren of the U.S. Supreme Court after earning his law degree. He went on to teach at the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania and the University of Minnesota Law School before joining the Berkeley faculty in 1965. He was dean of Berkeley Law (Boalt Hall) from 1982 to 1992, and has been a visiting professor at Harvard Law School, the University of Milan and the University of New South Wales in Sydney, among others.

For nearly 20 years, Choper was one of three major lecturers at U.S. Law Week’s Annual Constitutional Law Conference and has also lectured at major universities throughout the country. He has received numerous awards throughout his long career, including the Rutter Award for Teaching Distinction at Berkeley Law and a James Wilson Award from the University of Pennsylvania Law School, its most prestigious alumni award.

Choper’s numerous publications include the books, “Judicial Review and the National Political Process: A Functional Reconsideration of the Role of the Supreme Court” and “Securing Religious Liberty: Principles for Judicial Interpretation of the Religion Clauses.”

“Both as dean and as professor, Jesse Choper has had a distinguished career as an academic while never losing touch with the issues of importance to the practice,” said Kevin Cole, a University of San Diego School of Law professor who sits on the selection panel.

Past recipients of the medal include Beth Jay, principal attorney to the Chief Justice of California; Presiding Justice Joan Dempsey Klein of the Second District Court of Appeal, Third Division; former State Bar President John Van de Kamp; and retired Chief Justice Ronald M. George.

State Bar President Jon Streeter will present the medal to Choper at a luncheon on Friday, Oct. 12, at the State Bar Annual Meeting in Monterey.

The resolution signed by Streeter thanks Choper for exemplary service as well as “his courage in upholding the rule of law and understanding of the United States Constitution [and] for his unwavering commitment to the concepts of equal access to justice and civil rights.”


The State Bar of California is an administrative arm of the California Supreme Court, serving the public and seeking to improve the justice system for more than 80 years. All lawyers practicing law in California must be members of the State Bar. By October 2012, membership reached 238,000.