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Boalt Professor Joins 9th Circuit Court

by Jacqueline Frost, Public Affairs
posted October 21, 1998

William FletcherBoalt Hall professor William Fletcher has been confirmed as a 9th Circuit Court of Appeals judge, after a 21-year teaching career his colleagues called legendary.

Fletcher will take his seat on the federal court in San Francisco early next year after completing the law school's fall term.

"As a teacher, he is legendary," said Boalt Hall Professor Steve Bundy. "We all hope that this isn't the last we will see of him. We hope that he can continue to do some teaching and continue to be a part of the life of the school."

Nominated in 1996 for the prestigious seat by President Clinton, the confirmation was held up for three years by conservative lawmakers. Fletcher's mother, Betty Fletcher, also serves on the court.

Fletcher said he plans to continue teaching one course a year at the law school. "I don't really want to cut my ties here. I enjoy it too much.

"I've spent 21 years with a group of strong-minded, life-tenured people, so I hope that it won't be that difficult to go to another group of strong-minded, life-tenured people," Fletcher joked.

Colleagues describe Fletcher, a Rhodes Scholar and former law school classmate of Clinton's, as a keen intellect and a brilliant scholar. He also is a warm and funny teacher whose door is always open to students and colleagues, associates said.

"He is always active in the life of this school," said Boalt Hall Dean Herma Hill Kay. "Students frequently go to him for advice."

"His door was always open," added Bundy, whose office adjoined Fletcher's. "Students feel he is someone they can trust with decisions -- not just narrow, legal questions but also with life choices and personal problems.

"He has a very unusual combination of intellect, judgment and personal warmth," Bundy said. "He is a decent, sensible human being. Those are the qualities that we will miss. Those are also the qualities that will make him an extraordinary judge."

Fletcher joined the Boalt faculty in 1977. An expert in the federal courts and civil procedure, he is a co-author of a civil procedure casebook (with Professors Geoffrey Hazard and Colin Tait). Fletcher received the Distinguished Teaching Award in 1993.

He received undergraduate degrees from Harvard University and Oxford University and a law degree from Yale Law School. Fletcher clerked for Justice William J. Brennan Jr. of the U.S. Supreme Court before joining the Boalt faculty.


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