SAN FRANCISCO—Justice Marvin R. Baxter today announced that he will not seek re-election as an Associate Justice of the California Supreme Court in the November 2014 general election. He will conclude his current term of office and retire on January 4, 2015, after 24 years on the Supreme Court and 32 consecutive years of public service.
“I have been privileged to have such an interesting and fulfilling career in the law, serving as a deputy district attorney, in private practice, as Appointments Secretary to Governor George Deukmejian, and as an Associate Justice on the California Court of Appeal and Supreme Court,” said Justice Baxter. “It is a great honor to have served on the state’s high court since 1991. With three Chief Justices, twelve Associate Justices, and excellent staff, I have been able to contribute to its substantial body of opinions and case law. At the local and statewide levels I was gratified to have the opportunity to assist Governor Deukmejian in the appointment of more than 700 judges and numerous executive branch appointees, and to have supported the evolution of our judicial branch of government as a member of the Judicial Council of California and its committees. Jane and I look forward to an active retirement and will focus our time and attention on family and friends, traveling, hobbies, and charitable activities.”
Chief Justice Cantil-Sakauye commented on the announcement saying, “I was very fortunate when I became Chief Justice to have the quiet-spoken and reflective Justice Baxter on my left-hand side not only on the Supreme Court but also on the Judicial Council. I will miss his sage advice and counsel. Justice Baxter has a wealth of experience and is an intellectual force to be reckoned with. His cautious approach has not only helped our judicial branch develop and manage the checks and balances of our democratic system, but his legal reasoning has significantly contributed to the ‘documents of state’ that our court’s opinions represent and therefore to the rule of law.”
Having grown up on his family’s farm in Fowler, Fresno County, Justice Baxter began his legal career in 1967 as a Fresno County deputy district attorney, where he served for two years. He then became an associate and later a partner in the Fresno law firm of Andrews, Andrews, Thaxter, Jones and Baxter, where he practiced civil law for 13 years. In 1983, he became Appointments Secretary to Governor Deukmejian, serving as principal advisor for six years on all gubernatorial appointments made to the executive and judicial branches of government.
Former Governor Deukmejian stated that, “Marv Baxter has been a good friend and trusted advisor for over 30 years. His quiet yet thoughtful demeanor served as a steady influence during some troublesome times that I experienced in the Governor’s Office. His endless efforts resulted in well established recommendations that I grew to rely upon, especially in the selection of individuals for judicial appointments. His accomplishments both on and off the bench have been justifiably praised by all who know him.”
In 1988, Governor Deukmejian appointed Baxter as an Associate Justice of the Court of Appeal, Fifth Appellate District, where he served for two years. Justice Baxter was then nominated by Governor Deukmejian in 1990 to serve as an Associate Justice of the California Supreme Court, confirmed by the electorate, and subsequently reelected to a second 12-year term in 2002.
“Two terms on the State Supreme Court is remarkable,” noted retired Chief Justice Malcolm M. Lucas. “Justice Baxter is a solid person, with great perseverance and intelligence and he added so much when he came onto the court and still does to this day—the court will greatly miss him. And at my vaunted age of 87, I can say that it is not too bad just to sit back and contemplate life, but I know he owns a classic 1958 Corvette that may get some more attention. I wish him and his wife Jane well in whatever endeavors they choose to undertake together.”
Justice Baxter was educated in the local public schools in Fowler, received an undergraduate degree in Economics from the California State University, Fresno, served in San Francisco as a Coro Foundation Fellow in Public Affairs, and graduated from the University of California, Hastings College of the Law in San Francisco with a juris doctorate degree in 1966. He has held leadership positions within his alma maters and bar associations, having served as President of Fresno State’s student body, its alumni association and its trust council, and as President of the Fresno County Bar Association and the Fresno Young Lawyers Association. He is a Director Emeritus of UC Hastings College of the Law.
In 1996, then-Chief Justice Ronald M. George appointed Justice Baxter to the Judicial Council of California, on which he still serves. He will have served 18 years as Vice-Chair of the Judicial Council when he retires, and has chaired the council’s Policy Coordination and Liaison Committee for 16 years, as well as its Appellate Advisory Committee. He has served on the council during a crucial period for the judicial branch in its development as an independent, co-equal branch of government, involving court unification, trial court funding, facilities, and the establishment of the trial courts as independent employers.
Former Chief Justice George commented that, “Justice Marvin Baxter has contributed decades of public service at both the state and local levels of government, working in or with all three branches of government. The people of the state of California will continue to benefit for many years to come from the legacy of incisive, objective, and common sense decisions that he rendered for the court and as a leader in judicial administration during his years on the Judicial Council. Justice Baxter's constructive and collegial approach to problem-solving was of great benefit to me and to our colleagues during the time we served together. I join the many persons in the judicial branch and the legal profession who have expressed deep appreciation for Justice Baxter’s service, and in wishing him and his wife Jane all the best in the future.”
Justice Baxter has received a number of awards and recognitions over the years including the Distinguished Alumnus Award from UC Hastings College of the Law, the Distinguished Alumnus Award from California State University, Fresno, the Mentor Award from the Fresno County Young Lawyers Association, a “Man of the Year Award” from both the Armenian Professional Society and the Armenian National Committee. He is an honorary member of the Armenian Bar Association.
Justice Baxter has been married to Jane Pippert Baxter, a retired teacher, for 51 years. They have two adult children, Laura Baxter-Simons and Brent M. Baxter, and four teenage grandchildren.