Judge Alec Brown passed away a few weeks ago. I was shocked, although I am not sure why; he was 93 years old. Perhaps it is because he seemed indestructible to me. Having followed him on the pages of The Tribune from his days as a law clerk to his valiant fight to stay on the bench, I knew him as one who would not give up, and that pioneer tenacity deserves to be remembered.
After working 35 years in Madera’s courtrooms, 18 of them as a judge, they said he wasn’t qualified to be a judge. Never mind that he had passed a rigorous state judicial examination. Never mind that he had served as law clerk for Judge Le Roy E. Bailey for 16 years. Never mind that Judge Bailey had recommended his law clerk for a seat on the bench, and never mind that the people had chosen him four times to be their justice court judge. California still said that Judge Alec Brown had to go.
The State legislature first pulled the judicial rug from under Judge Brown when it passed a law stating that only attorneys could serve as justice court judges. The new law meant that nearly 100 non-lawyer judges would have to leave the bench. Madera’s Judge Brown bristled at the idea; he intended to fight. He began by attacking the law itself.
Judge Brown asserted that his non-lawyer status didn’t make him an inferior judge...