Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Doris Brin Walker

Doris Brin Walker was an icon, an extraordinary woman. Born in 1919, she was the only woman in her class at Boalt Hall where she got her law degree in 1942. In 1970, she became the first woman President of the National Lawyers Guild. (My father always referred to it as the Communist Bar Association, which isn't precisely true, though Walker was, in fact, a communist.)

She represented John W. Powell when he was charged with sedition for asserting in The China Monthly Review that the U.S. used biological weapons against North Korea. She was part of the team representing Angela Davis in her capital trial for the murder of four people including a judge, killed during the escape attempt of George Jackson and two others from a Marin County courtroom where they were standing trial for murder. In 1996, she was one of eight international observers at the hearings held by South Africa's Truth and Reconciliation Commission. In 2004, she sponsored a resolution by the California Bar calling on Congress to investigate Bush and Cheney for war crimes.

She died two weeks ago. (Obits here and here.) Thanks to The Defense Rests for letting me know.

A labor lawyer and a worker and a union organizer and a lifelong activist, Walker was tenacious in defense of her clients and her beliefs. That's a pretty good legacy.

Rest in Peace.

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