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Good Bye Justice Croskey

Posted by William (Bill) Ford, III | Leave a Comment 

We have lost a great California jurist, Justice H. Walter Croskey.  This gives me pause.

My own “Bible,” the Rutter Group Insurance Litigation, sits spring-loaded and ready for action. There it is, not down the hall in a library, but right there in my office within reach.

The pages are well-worn. Marginal notes and sticky tabs abound. Look closely and you’ll see a few coffee stains. These are battle scars of research done late at night or in an airport or during a recess from trial.

OK, I admit “Croskey” is the first place—and often the only place—I go to learn or to confirm the law of insurance.  Attention young lawyers:  a quote from Justice Croskey, gently laced into the brief, goes a long way in most courts, trial or appellate.  This is hardly a “secret” but I pass it on anyway.

Justice Croskey knew the landscape of insurance law in California exactly because he had faithfully charted its metes and bounds for many years. He wrote in a balanced way. He wrote without the baggage of any apparent ego. To me, he seemed to write as a curious student of the law would write.  This is what great teachers do.

His scholarship spilled into his opinions, of course. He wrote clearly and each point flowed to the next, bonded by authority and logic. One might read any one of his opinions, put it down, and say, “Well, that’s the certainly the rule and it shouldn’t be otherwise.” That was his shared gift.

Rest in Peace Justice Croskey. Thank you.

Bill Ford

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