|Allen Edgar Broussard|
|Associate Justice of the California Supreme Court|
July 22, 1981 - August 31, 1991
|William P. Clark, Jr.|
|Ronald M. George|
April 13, 1929|
Lake Charles, Louisiana, U.S.
|Died||November 5, 1996
Oakland, California, U.S.
|Spouse(s)||Odessa Monroe (m. 1959)|
|Alma mater||San Francisco City College
University of California, Berkeley (B.A., J.D)
|Occupation||Lawyer, judge, civic leader|
Allen Edgar Broussard (April 13, 1929 - November 5, 1996) was an African-American attorney who rose to become an Associate Justice of the California Supreme Court from July 22, 1981, to August 31, 1991.
Broussard was born in Lake Charles, Louisiana, the son of Clemire and Eugenia Broussard. At the age of sixteen, he moved with his family to California, where his father was a longshoreman, and his mother worked as a seamstress.
As a young man, Broussard held various part-time jobs, including selling shoes and working in a canning plant. He financed his own education, first at San Francisco City College, then the University of California at Berkeley, and the Boalt Hall School of Law at Berkeley. At Boalt, he was vice-president of the Boalt Hall Law Students Association and a contributor to the California Law Review. After graduating in 1953, he served in the United States Army for two years. After leaving the Army, he became the research attorney for Raymond E. Peters, Presiding Justice of the California Court of Appeal, First District, Division One. In 1959, Broussard entered private practice with Wilson, Metoyer & Sweeny.
Broussard was one of a group of influential African American leaders in East Bay politics, including Norvel Smith, and state Court of Appeal Justice Clinton White. He was part of a coterie that used to meet at the pharmacy of William Byron Rumford, along with Lionel Wilson. In 1972, Broussard was the first African American to be elected President of the California Judges Association. He also became Chairman of the Board of the Center for Judicial Education and Research.
After retiring from the judiciary, Broussard served on the Oakland Port Commission, which involved visiting ports around the world, especially Asia. In 1987, he led a group of 72 lawyers, port officials including: port commissioner Carole Ward Allen, and city officials on a 3-week long trip to China meeting the Mayor of Shanghai, Jiang Zemin. Shanghai is a "twin city" of San Francisco.
Broussard was one of the first African-Americans to become a judge in California. In 1964, his former law partner, Lionel Wilson, had become mayor of Oakland and appointed Broussard as a judge of the Municipal Court for the Oakland-Piedmont (later Oakland-Piedmont-Emeryville) Judicial District. In 1975, Governor Pat Brown appointed Broussard as a judge of the Superior Court of Alameda County. His record caught the attention of Democratic Governor Jerry Brown, who appointed him to the California Supreme Court in 1981, where he served as Associate Justice. His term followed Wiley Manuel, who was on the bench 1977-1981.
On the court, Broussard was a leading liberal in the court's majority, along with Chief Justice Rose Bird. He wrote the majority of opinions for the court at that time. By 1982, five of the seven justices on the court were Brown appointees, who were widely criticized as allegedly soft on crime and overly political. Even though the judges had different individual philosophies, they were lumped together by conservative politicians who derisively labeled them as "Jerry's Judges" and "Rosie & The Supremes." Critics repeatedly claimed that Broussard and other Brown appointees ruled on the basis of personal opinion and political bias rather than the law and the state Constitution.
In 1982, Broussard was up for election reconfirmation. A campaign was waged against him and the other Brown appointees on the ballot that year (Cruz Reynoso and Otto Kaus), something that was unprecedented in California history. Broussard was reconfirmed to a 12-year term, as expected, with 56% of the vote, but that was below the typical confirmation vote. In 1986, three of his colleagues (Bird, Cruz Reynoso, and Joseph Grodin) were resoundingly voted off the court, and they were replaced by conservative justices. Broussard was disturbed by this development and expressed fear that the judiciary would become politicized.
As chairman of a civic organization called Men of Tomorrow, he contacted Odessa Monroe, the program director of the radio station KSAN, seeking free air time. He went on to marry her in 1959, and they had two sons, Keith and Craig.
Hon. Allen E. Broussard, 1981-87
Two black judges were elected to state supreme courts: Oscar Adams in Alabama and Allen Broussard in California.
1982 judicial election...Allen Broussard with 56.2%
The court...ruled in the final week of office for Chief Justice Rose Bird and Associate Justices Cruz Reynoso and Joseph Grodin, who suffered a resounding defeat in last month's confirmation election and will leave office Sunday.
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