Justice Wiley Manuel 2

Wiley William Manuel (August 28, 1927 – January 5, 1981) was the first Black man to serve on the California Supreme Court, from 1977 until his death in 1981. The Wiley Manuel Courthouse was named in his honor.

Manuel was born in Oakland and grew up in south Berkeley. His father was a dining car waiter for the Southern Pacific Railroad, and his mother worked as a servant. 4 He attended Berkeley High School (1945), where he was the backup 2nd baseman behind Billy Martin. 5

In 1948, he married Eleanor Manuel, 3 and they had two children, Yvonne Manuel and Gary Manuel. .

Manuel worked on the 1965 re-election campaign for council member Joshua Rose. 11

Legal Career

Manuel served a year in the US Army, then graduated from UC Berkeley and from Hastings Law School (1953) where he was top of the class for 2 of the 3 years.

Fresh from law school, before he had taken the bar exam, in 1953 he was appointed as a student legal assistant in the San Francisco office of the State Attorney General. 6 After passing the bar, Manuel was appointed as a deputy State Attorney General in 1954. 12

He was a founding member of the Charles Houston Law Club, and served as president in 1963. 7 In 1964, he was considered (along with Allen Broussard and Henry Rodriguez) to replace Lionel Wilson, who had moved from the municipal court to the superior court.

In 1976, then governor Jerry Brown appointed him to the Alameda County Superior Court. In 1977, Brown elevated him to the California Supreme Court. 1,10

Through his career, he was particularly passionate about pro bono work. He was a moderate on the Supreme Court; he and Justice Stanley W. Mosk frequently cast the deciding votes in splits between the liberal and conservative blocs. He was one of 4 of the 7 justices who voted to uphold the constitutionality of California's death penalty law. 4

Death, Burial and Legacy

Manuel served until his death a few years later in 1981 from stomach cancer at Providence Hospital. Services were held at St. Francis de Sales Cathedral, and Manuel was buried at St. Mary's Cemetery. 9

Following his death, various things were named for Manuel or started in his memory:

Links and References

LA Times 1977 10

  1. Wiley Manuel on Wikipedia
  2. Wiley Manuel California Supreme Court Historical Society
  3. Mothers keep meeting even after 52 years Oakland Tribune May 16, 2005
  4. Wiley Manual, 53, Dead in California New York Times January 6, 1981
  5. Wiley Manuel, First Black on State High Court, Dies Los Angeles Times January 6, 1981
  6. Law School Graduate Gets State Post Oakland Tribune July 1, 1953
  7. Wiley Named Law Club's President Oakland Tribune February 24, 1963
  8. Charles Houston Bar Association website
  9. Services Friday for Wiley Manuel Santa Rosa Press Democrat January 7, 1981
  10. Brown Picks Woman, Black for High Court Los Angeles Times February 13, 1977 (p2)
  11. Political Notes Oakland Tribune March 23, 1965
  12. Wiley Manuel Is Appointed State Deputy Attorney General Oakland Tribune March 31, 1954
  13. Vacant Judgeship Stirs Speculation Oakland Tribune March 5, 1964