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Sanford H. Kadish

Professor of Law, Emeritus

UC Berkeley

1921 – 2014


Sanford H. Kadish, former Berkeley Law Dean and Alexander F. and May T. Morrison Professor of Law, Emeritus, died in his Berkeley home on September 5, 2014. He was two days shy of his 93rd birthday. In addition to his contributions as an academic leader, both nationally and on the Berkeley campus, Sandy Kadish was a towering figure in modern criminal law scholarship. His publications continue to influence and inform research and teaching in the field. “Without a doubt, Sandy was the leading criminal law scholar nationally of his time,” said longtime Berkeley Law Professor Jesse Choper, who succeeded Kadish as dean. “He was among a small handful of the most distinguished faculty members we’ve ever had.”


Sandy Kadish was born on September 7, 1921, in New York City. He was a Phi Beta Kappa at City College of New York, and following graduation attended Japanese language school in Colorado. As a Navy officer during World War II, he worked on a destroyer in the Pacific, translating Japanese military documents. He then entered Columbia Law School, graduating in 1948 and practicing in New York for three years. In 1951, a friend from language school recruited him to join the founding faculty at the new law school at the University of Utah.

After ten years there, Kadish moved to the faculty of the University of Michigan Law School. He arrived in Berkeley in 1964, just a few weeks before the opening protests of the Free Speech Movement. He was appointed to Berkeley Law’s Alexander F. and May T. Morrison chair in 1974 and served as Law School Dean from 1975-1982. Though he retired from the faculty in 1991, he remained active on campus as a scholar and mentor into his 90s.


By the time he joined the Berkeley faculty, Kadish had already established himself as a leading scholar of criminal law and criminal justice reform. His writings typically focused on central philosophical issues raised by the legal practices of ascribing criminal responsibility and inflicting punishment. An early and forceful critic of what he termed “over-criminalization,” he participated in the drafting of the American Law Institute’s 1962 Model Penal Code, a major law reform initiative of the post-W.W.II era. His emphasis on the theory of the criminal law and the moral dimensions of its processes contributed to and benefited from the remarkable resurgence of academic writing in jurisprudence and moral philosophy in the second half of the 20th century. His 1957 Yale Law Journal article, "Methodology and Criteria in Due Process Adjudication,” still ranks as one of the 100 most cited law review articles of all time. Blame and Punishment, a collection of his major papers, appeared in 1987. The book’s essays, praised Stanford Law Professor John Kaplan, “cover just about all of the major problems of the substantive criminal law that are presently engaging scholarly attention” and displayed “Kadish's clear moral vision as to the appropriate place of criminal punishment in a free society.” In addition to Blame and Punishment, Kadish co-authored with his brother, the philosopher Mortimer Kadish, Discretion to Disobey: A Study of Lawful Departures from Legal Rules (1973). Of greatest impact was the casebook he inaugurated in 1962, Criminal Law and its Processes, which quickly came to set the standard for law school pedagogy in his field. Now in its 9th edition, and boasting a distinguished banner of co-editors, the volume remains the most widely used casebook in criminal law. Berkeley colleague Professor Christopher Kutz explains that “virtually every other criminal law casebook remains indebted” to Kadish, and “virtually every influential criminal law scholar has been taught or mentored by Sandy.”


Kadish viewed the creation of Berkeley Law’s program in Jurisprudence and Social Policy (JSP) as the crowning achievement of his Deanship. The pioneering Ph.D. program, along with Berkeley’s undergraduate Legal Studies major, was developed in partnership with Berkeley colleague and close friend, the sociologist Philip Selznick. The new initiatives supported interdisciplinary approaches to legal ideas and institutions and enriched the academic study of law with the perspectives of the social sciences and humanities. “These enterprises were not only the first programs of their kind, but also became and remain the leaders in their respective fields,” noted Calvin Morrill, current associate dean of the JSP Program. “Aside from a distinguished career as a legal scholar, Sanford Kadish was a university leader of profound vision and unusual verve.”


Kadish was a most generous Senate member and academic citizen, and his leadership extended well beyond the University of California. He was President of American Association of University Professors (l970-72) and of American Association of Law Schools (1982), and Vice-President of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences (1984 -1987). He served as Editor-in-Chief of the multi-volume Encyclopedia of Crime and Justice (l979-83). A Guggenheim Fellow and Fulbright Lecturer, he additionally held visiting positions at Harvard Law School, Columbia Law School, University of Milan, Freiburg University, Kyoto-Doshisha University, University of Melbourne, Oxford University, and Cambridge University. Among numerous awards, he held honorary doctorates from the University of Cologne, the City University of New York, and Southwestern University. In 1997, the University of California awarded him the Clark Kerr Medal for Distinguished Leadership in Higher Education. Academic Senate service included four years (1998-2002) as a member of the Committee on Academic Freedom; two terms (1973-74 and 1987-88) on the Budget Committee; one year (1991-92) on the Committee on Committees; and, one year (1992-93) on the Committee on Educational Policy.


While the outward marks of Sandy Kadish’s career achievements were numerous and stellar, he was no less remarkable and admired as a mentor and friend. He and his wife of 68 years, June, regularly opened their Berkeley home to countless colleagues, visitors and students. New members of the law faculty were quickly welcomed and brought into their capacious circle of friendship. The law school’s debts to June and Sandy Kadish significantly increased in 2000 when the couple endowed the Kadish Center for Morality, Law, and Public Affairs. The Center brings together campus scholars, law and graduate students, and visitors who study the relationships among moral and political philosophy and public policy. Its mission bespeaks Kadish’s influential writing on the theoretical and moral aspects of criminal law. Christopher Kutz, the Center’s director, observed that “Sandy firmly believed that questions of moral philosophy are not abstractions, but are crucial for us to be able to keep a critical eye on the state’s claim to be able to punish or otherwise coerce citizens to follow the law.”


In 2012, the book collection of Berkeley’s Center for the Study of Law and Society and Jurisprudence and Social Policy Program was dedicated as the Kadish Library. At the ceremony honoring his contributions, Sandy called the library dedication “massively gratifying,” adding that he “invested a good deal of my life at the law school, and it’s heartwarming to be recognized this way.” The library houses books and journals that focus on the intersection of law, social sciences, and humanities—including many studies authored by scholars he mentored.


Sandy Kadish survived his wife June, who died in March 2011. They are survived by two sons, Josh Kadish of Portland, Oregon, and Peter Kadish of Orem, Utah; seven grandchildren, and three great-grandchildren.


Jesse C. Choper

David Lieberman