in Lake Charles, Louisiana in 1929, Allen E. Broussard came to the Bay Area
with his family as a teenager. He began his years of community service at
age 16 while attending San Francisco City College.
As President of the City College chapter of the NAACP, Justice Broussard became active in the fight for equal employment opportunities for African Americans. Picketing, striking and litigation were necessary to break down the barriers of racial injustice in San Francisco.
Justice Broussard was instrumental in getting the first African-Americans hired as a high-school teacher and police officer in San Francisco, and was instrumental in securing union jobs for those individuals previously denied access to union positions.
These experiences inspired Justice Broussard to seek a career in the law, and in 1950 he enrolled at Boalt Hall as one of three African-Americans in a class of 106. Justice Broussard graduated in the top 15% of his law school class and was a Law Review editor.
After graduation, Justice Broussard became a research attorney for Raymond Peters, presiding judge of the First Appellate District and was the first African-American to hold that position in the district. Justice Broussard credited Judge Peters with giving him an opportunity and for helping to shape his judicial philosophy of always considering the broader impact legal decisions have on individuals and society.
In 1959, after serving two years in the army, Justice Broussard joined the law firm of Wilson, Metoyer & Sweeney as an associate. In 1961, when Lionel Wilson was appointed to the Alameda County bench, Justice Broussard became a partner at the newly-constituted Metoyer, Sweeney & Broussard.
Through his work with the East Bay Democratic Club and Oakland Men of Tomorrow, Justice Broussard was part of the effort to build a strong political base in the East Bay. These organizations were vehicles through which African-Americans identified and selected their own candidates; and by 1958, members of these East Bay organizations chaired the campaigns of all of the Democratic candidates on the ticket in the Eighth Congressional District, winning all but one of the top statewide jobs.
In 1964, at the age of 34, Justice Broussard began his 27-year judicial career when Governor Pat Brown appointed him to the Oakland-Piedmont Municipal Court where he served as presiding judge from 1968 to 1975. Governor Pat Brown appointed Justice Broussard to the Alameda County Superior Court. Six years later, Governor Jerry Brown elevated Justice Broussard to the California Supreme Court.
Justice Broussard started his 10-year tenure on the Supreme Court with Rose Bird as chief justice; and served as acting chief justice when Justice Bird left the Court in 1987. While on the Supreme Court, Justice Broussard wrote more majority opinions than any other member of the Court, including some of the Court's most sweeping opinions, such as the 1983 opinion which required proof of intent to kill in most death penalty cases, giving the Court the legal basis for overturning scores of death penalty verdicts.
As an Associate Justice of the California Supreme Court, Justice Broussard continued his long-standing tradition of public service. He served as the first African-American president of the California Judges Association and was an active member in the Judicial Sections of the Charles Houston Bar Association and the California Association of Black Lawyers.
Appointed by Chief Justice Malcolm Lucas to co-chair the California Judicial Council Committee on Race and Ethnic Bias in the Courts, Justice Broussard was in the forefront of studying attitudes about race and ethnic discrimination and the existence of racism in the courts. Recognizing that fairness in the courts is essential to a functioning democracy, Justice Broussard worked with the committee to identify and eliminate bias in the judicial system. Justice Broussard was also a dedicated member of the ABA Task Force on Minority Opportunities in the Profession.
Retiring from the Court in 1991 to return to private practice, Justice Broussard became a partner at Coblentz, Cahen, McCable & Breyer, where he had an active practice in alternative dispute resolution, appellate review, and participated in the Complex Case Panel of the American Arbitration Association.
In 1991, Justice Broussard was appointed by Mayor Elihu Harris to the Port of Oakland, Board of Commissioners and subsequently was elected its president. Justice Broussard also twice served on Senator Dianne Feinstein's Judicial Selection Committee.
Justice Broussard was a magnet for bright students, especially those from Boalt Hall. He met with students regularly and judged moot court competitions all over the country, including the Black Law Students' annual Frederick Douglass Moot Court competition. Additionally, he was a mentor to countless law students and newly-graduated lawyers who served as his judicial clerks.
Justice Broussard worked diligently to expand opportunities within the legal profession and to assist young lawyers in their pursuit of a career in the law. One of his most earnest goals was the diversification of the profession, and much of his work was aimed at making sure all minorities are given the opportunity to rise and "take a place at the table," as he was fond of saying.
It is the Broussard Scholarship Foundation's goal to continue Justice Broussard's work in promoting diversity in the legal profession by assisting under represented law students to take their place at the table.
Justice Allen E. Broussard,
California Supreme Court
The Justice Allen E. Broussard Scholarship Foundation ©2003 - 2021