Berkeley Law has lost a long-time faculty member.
Stephen Barnett, an emeritus professor, died Tuesday after suffering cardiac arrest on Oct. 2. He was 73.
Not one to hold back when he had an opinion, Barnett had kept a keen eye on how the California Supreme Court went about its business and frequently criticized its policies. Chief Justice Ronald George grudgingly acknowledged to me that all of Barnett’s effort wasn’t in vain, and the court wound up adopting some changes based on his critiques. Barnett also targeted the State Bar. Colleagues said he didn’t limit his reach to the public sphere, though. Barnett was known to dig into decisions and policies at the school, too.
“If there is such a thing as a constructive gadfly, that was Steve,” said Berkeley law professor Richard Buxbaum, who had known him since Barnett joined the faculty in 1967.
Though he had retired four or five years ago, Barnett still made regular appearances on campus. Berkeley professor Jesse Choper said Barnett taught a first-year course and showed up to faculty meetings. But he also traveled a good deal for his international work and worked from home. “He had a big study at home,” Choper said. “Unlike most law faculty he tended to spend a lot of time working at home.”
The law school is planning a memorial service at the university.
Petra is a Cal Law reporter