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Jesse Choper, UC Berkeley Law Professor, Awarded Bernard E. Witkin Medal

Jesse Choper, a professor for UC Berkeley School of Law, received an award from the California state bar association for his contributions to legal scholarship, according to The Daily Californian. Choper was given the 2012 Bernard E. Witkin Medal. The award was presented to Choper by the president of the State Bar of California, Jon Streeter during an awards luncheon.

“We try to recognize someone who through a lifetime of service has made a huge difference to the law and the justice system,” said Streeter. “He has for decades been one of the leading scholars in constitutional law and is well known to academics and judges.”

Choper is a 1960 graduate of the University of Pennsylvania School of Law and has worked as a law clerk for U.S. Supreme Court Chief Justice Earl Warren. He also has contributed to scholarship analyzing the role of the U.S. Supreme Court in judicial review.

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After a short time at the University of Minnesota Law School, Choper was added to the UC Berkeley School of Law in 1965. Choper served as the school’s dean from 1982 to 1992 and is still the Earl Warren Professor of Public Law at the school.

“He is a scholar of the highest order, but he has never lost touch with the issues of interest to the practical operation of law,” Kevin Cole said in an email sent to The Daily Californian. Cole belongs to the Witken Medal selection panel and works as a professor of the University of San Diego Law School. “Through his service at Boalt Hall and otherwise, he has shaped and assisted more California attorneys than we could reasonably estimate.”

The Witkin Medal was created in 1993 and is given out annually to attorneys, judges or legal scholars who have helped change the legal landscape, according to the website for the State Bar of California.

“I am very pleased to have received it,” he said. “I have studied the names who have received it in the past, and they all have very distinguished careers. I feel privileged and honored to join them.”

Choper has been described as a “long-time servant” of the law school and the campus by a fellow UC Berkeley law school professor, John Yoo. Yoo also said that Choper’s work studying judicial review and the rights of religious minorities has impacted the legal world considerably.

“It is fair to say that in both fields, Choper has published leading works that have moved his field forward and influenced generations of scholars,” Yoo said in email to The Daily Californian.

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