Chief Justice Earl Warren
Earl Warren was born on March 19, 1891, in Los Angeles, California. He was raised in Bakersfield, California, where his father was employed by the railroad. Watching trials of criminal cases in the Kern County Courthouse, he became interested in the law. He worked his way through college at the University of California, where he majored in political science, and attended law school, receiving his B.L. degree in 1912 and his J.D. degree in 1914. He was admitted to the California Bar on May 14, 1915.
In his only experience with private practice, he worked in law offices in San Francisco and Oakland from 1915 to 1919. He became Deputy City Attorney in Oakland, California in 1919 and served three terms as district attorney of Alameda County starting in 1925. Amazingly, it is reported that during his 14 years as district attorney, not one of the more that 13,000 cases he prosecuted was reversed by a higher court.
He was a member of the Board of Regents of the University of California. After serving in the elected post of California Attorney General from 1938 to 1942, he was elected Governor of California. In 1946, he became the only governor in history to win an election unopposed, winning both the Republican and Democratic primaries. In 1950, he became the only governor in California's history to be elected for three successive terms. While serving as Governor, he resided in the Governor's Mansion at 16th and H Streetss, and presided over the state's business from his office in the State Capitol in Sacramento.
After running unsuccessfully for Vice President in 1948 on the Republican ticket with Thomas E. Dewey, on March 1, 1953, he was appointed by Dwight D. Eisenhower as fourteenth chief justice of the U.S. Supreme Court. During his term as Chief Justice, the Court was known as the "Warren Court." In Brown v. Board of Education, he authored the landmark decision establishing that "separate educational facilities are inherently unequal." This ruling overturned the previous holding of Plessy v. Ferguson. In Miranda v. Arizona, the Court ruled that persons in custody must be informed of their rights before being interrogated by law enforcement officers.
Chief Justice Warren also headed the commision investigating the assassination of John F. Kennedy in 1963. He retired in 1969 and died in Washington, D.C. on July 9, 1974.
© 2001 United States District Court for the Eastern District of California Historical Society.