UC Law Journal


Judge Melvin T. Brunetti was a judge on the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit and a prominent alumnus of Hastings College of the Law. In this Article, three of Judge Brunetti's former law clerks discuss his exemplary life and career as a jurist.

The Article opens with a discussion of Judge Brunetti's life experiences and how those experiences influenced his judicial views. The Article then presents a survey of Judge Brunetti's judicial record. The survey of Judge Brunetti's work on the bench commences with his early years as a judge and discusses a number of his higher profile decisions. The Article next discusses Judge Brunetti's work during the 1990s, including important cases concerning the First Amendment, the Fourth Amendment, and other issues. This section of the Article also discusses the extraordinary and dramatic judicial proceedings that took place immediately prior to the execution of Robert Alton Harris in 1992. Harris was the first prisoner in California to be executed in more than 25 years. The Article also discusses Judge Brunetti's work during the years that he enjoyed senior status. This discussion addresses cases involving several constitutional, criminal and civil issues, such as § 1983 jurisprudence, First Amendment issues, sentencing issues, and intellectual property issues.

The Article concludes with commentary on Judge Brunetti's disciplined and principled application of law to facts during the course of his career. Judge Brunetti has bestowed upon us a legacy of cases that reflect the principle that a strong and independent federal judiciary and the rule of law are critical components of our democracy.

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