Tuesday, September 2, 2014

We lost a good one

My boss passed away.

This sucks.  Here is an obit.

I do not frequently (read: ever) discuss my work here.  Mostly because it is inappropriate to do so, but also because that's just not what this journal is about.  But I'm making an exception here today.

I am a research attorney for the California Court of Appeal.  What this basically means is that I'm an invisible little cog in the wheels of justice.  I work for a judge (we call them justices) on our state's intermediate appellate court.  The justice for whom I worked for the past 8 years, Justice Walter Croskey, passed away on Friday, and this is a very sad thing -- for his family, for his colleagues, and really for the citizens of California, because they've lost an exceptional jurist.

If you google him, you'll probably read about a case he wrote which generated a certain amount of controversy.  (Also hate mail.  I know.  I read a lot of it.)  And in one particularly nasty piece, someone referred to my boss as someone who "call[ed] himself a Christian" -- as though to imply that he wasn't really a Christian because of the way he decided the case.  At the time, I thought this was needlessly cruel, because I knew my boss's faith was important to him.

But it keeps coming back to me now, as the comment was not only cruel, but a fundamental misunderstanding of what the man was about.  The mere idea that he would resolve a case in favor of the position taken by Christians because he was himself a Christian is as ridiculous as the idea that he would resolve a case in favor of the position taken by a white person because he was white, or that he would resolve a case in favor of the position taken by men because he was a man.  Justice Croskey didn't resolve cases in favor of any particular demographic group, he resolved cases in favor of justice.  He wasn't always right (that's what Supreme Court reversal is for), but he always made his best effort to do what was right.

He and I were of different political bents, and we never disagreed about a case for political reasons.  Not once.  Politics didn't matter -- doing the right thing under the law did.

I talk to my parents on the phone in the mornings, and when I get to the office, I tell them I have to go "make justice" now.  Justice Croskey overheard me saying that once, and said that he hoped that's what we were doing.  For 26 years on the appellate bench, that's what he did.