October 19, 2009
UC Berkeley Law Professor Stephen Barnett Dies
a MetNews Staff Writer
Barnett, professor emeritus at the UC Berkeley School of Law, died of
complications resulting from cardiac arrest after arrest, it was learned Friday.
a release, the school said Barnett, 73, was a prominent expert on intellectual
property law; the news media; the legal institutions of California, principally
the California Supreme Court; and First Amendment issues.
his scholarship, Steve was a devastating critic of the practices of the
California Supreme Court and the California State Bar Association,” Berkeley
Law professor Melvin Eisenberg said. “He did a lot of acute, penetrating
research that no one else has done regarding judicial transparency and
Law Associate Dean and professor Stephen Sugarman said Barnett “was probably
California’s leading analyst and critic of the way the California Supreme
Court goes about its business—how promptly it delivers its decisions, when the
judges prepare their opinions, the Court’s control over the briefs of parties
and the role of oral argument, and the role of unpublished opinions and
de-published opinions of lower California courts.”
in Brooklyn, N.Y.,
Barnett was raised in West
Hartford, Conn., and graduated
from the Loomis School in Windsor, Conn.,
before attending college and law school atHarvard University.
graduating from law school in 1962, he spent a year as a law clerk in New
York to the late Judge Henry J.
Friendly of the Second U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. He then clerked for one
year for the late U.S. Supreme Court Justice William J. Brennan Jr.
1965, Barnett began working as an associate with Cleary, Gottlieb, Steen &
Hamilton in New York and Washington, D.C. He
joined the UC Berkeley School of Law faculty in 1967, where he taught classes in
copyright and trademarks, torts and California legal
1977 to 1979, Barnett served in the U.S. Justice Department as a deputy
solicitor general, briefing and arguing cases before the U.S. Supreme Court. He
then returned to the Berkeley Law faculty and was awarded the Elizabeth Josselyn
Boalt Chair in 1990.
became the leading critical commentator on the problems generated by federal
legislation allowing the newspaper industry to enter into production and
revenue-sharing agreements under the umbrella of antitrust immunity,” said
Berkeley Law professor Richard Buxbaum. “In legislative hearings,
participation in litigation, and innumerable op-ed pieces, he kept this
problematic exception under constant public scrutiny.”
added that Barnett also maintained a leading role “in shaping public policy
concerning the industrial structure and public regulation of both print and
visual media, which brought him international attention. He was an important
participant in the academic studies that influenced new European regulations of
these sectors in the 1980s.”
co-authored the book “Law of International Telecommunications in the United
States” in 1988, which provided the first comparative evaluations of national
data on the subject and analyzed the role of international organizations in
facilitating such communications.
Barnett’s wide engagement with legal systems and legal education in many other
countries allowed him both to help other nations benefit from American insights
and practices and to help us think about ways of improving ours,” said
who lectured in many countries, was a visiting professor at the University of Fribourg, Switzerland,
in 1981 and at the University of Paris in
1987. He also served as a visiting fellow at the Max Planck Institute in Hamburg, Germany,
in 1983 and at the University of Sydney in
2000, Barnett was a contributing commentary writer to California Lawyer
magazine, and served as nonresident dean of the law department at the American University ofArmenia in Yerevan, Armenia.
He retired from Berkeley Law in 2003.
the end of Barnett’s teaching career, his litigation included a 1999 suit that
compelled California’s Commission on Judicial Performance to disclose the way
its individual members vote, and a suit that the State Bar of California settled
in 2001 by allowing board-of-governors candidates to make policy statements on
the election ballot.
is survived by his wife, Karine, their son, Alexander, and his stepson, Levon.
He also leaves behind his sister, Linda Beizer of Avon, Conn.,
and three nephews: Bill Beizer of Newton, Mass.,
Jon Beizer of Hillsborough, Calif.,
and Matt Beizer of Simsbury, Conn.
was a wonderful stepfather to Levon, and as he pondered his life accomplishments
at retirement he rued the fact that he had never fathered any children of his
own,” said Barnett’s sister. “He became a father for the first time to
Alexander at age 69, and they spent virtually every waking hour together and
enjoyed a very close relationship.”
private service honoring Barnett’s life is being planned by the family.
in Barnett’s memory may be made to the Parkinson Association of Northern
2009, Metropolitan News Company