UC Berkeley School of Law professor emeritus Sanford Kadish dies at 92

kadish
Michael Bazeley/Courtesy

Former dean of the UC Berkeley School of Law and professor emeritus Sanford Kadish, one of Berkeley’s most distinguished law professors, died of kidney failure Sept. 5 at age 92.

Widely regarded by his colleagues as one of the leading criminal-law scholars on campus, Kadish is responsible for several major developments within Berkeley Law. Kadish played an integral role in founding the Jurisprudence and Social Policy Program, which allows law students to analyze law from a social-policy standpoint while integrating other fields of study such as political science, history and sociology.

Law professor Jesse Choper, who succeeded Kadish as dean, considers this program to be Kadish’s most significant enterprise as dean. Established in 1978, the program helped set the law school apart from others, Choper said. Though 14 years apart in age, Choper and Kadish were incredibly close.

“I was the younger brother that he never had, and he was certainly the older brother that I never had,” Choper said. “He was the wisest person that I have ever met.”

Additionally, Kadish, alongside his wife June, conceived the Kadish Center for Morality, Law and Public Affairs in 2000. The center promotes research on the exercise of state power and aims to analyze the degree to which the criminal-law system is morally justified.

Kadish launched a seminar that brought university scholars together with some of the most interesting and prominent legal and political thinkers in the world, said Christopher Kutz, law professor and director of the Kadish Center, in an email.

“One of the things that I love about being at Berkeley is being part of the large community (Kadish) created,” Kutz said. “I miss him dearly, but I am glad that what he created will go on.”

Beyond his impact on UC Berkeley, Kadish also led several national law associations. Most notably, Kadish served as president of both the American Association of University Professors and of the Association of American Law Schools.

New York University School of Law professor Stephen Schulhofer, who collaborated with Kadish in authoring “Criminal Law and Its Processes,” said he will continue to channel Kadish when he lectures and guides student dialogues.

“I felt then, though much more intensely, an experience that is repeated for me many times throughout the semester, that of (Kadish’s) voice in my head, kind but unyielding,” Schulhofer said in an email, referring to his initial reaction to the news of Kadish’s passing. “His presence will continue to be felt, and treasured, by countless colleagues, students and law school alums.”

Kadish is survived by his two sons Josh and Peter Kadish, seven grandchildren and three great-grandchildren. His family plans to hold a memorial service for friends and UC Berkeley community members.

Adrianna Dinolfo covers academics and administration. Contact her at [email protected] and follow her on Twitter @Adriannadinolfo.