Monday, December 10, 2018

Havrylyshyn Wins Ca. Supreme Court Historical Society Selma Moidel Smith Award

From our friends at the California Supreme Court Historical Society, we have word that Alexandra Havrylyshyn, a Robbins Postdoctoral Research Fellow and graduate of Berkeley Law, won first place in this year’s Selma Moidel Smith Law Student Writing Competition. Sponsored by the California Supreme Court Historical Society, the competition is judged by a panel of law professors and lawyers. The award recognizes excellent scholarship on any aspect of California legal history. 

Credit: California Supreme Court Historical Society
Havrylyshyn’s paper, “How a California Settler Unsettled the Proslavery Legislature of Antebellum Louisiana,” will be published in the 2019 volume of California Legal History.  The paper uncovers the little-known history of Judge John McHenry. During his time on the bench in Louisiana, McHenry interpreted proslavery laws so as to favor liberty for certain enslaved individuals. Relying on McHenry’s personal and legal papers (preserved at the University of California, Berkeley’s Bancroft Library), this article argues that a commitment to the rule of law, rather than a clear commitment to ending slavery, ultimately explains McHenry’s unpopular opinions. In a context of heightened sectional tension over the legality of slavery, McHenry departed Louisiana for California, where he was called upon to help frame the state’s first constitution.

Photo: Retired California Supreme Court Associate Justice Kathryn Mickle Werdeger, California Supreme Court Chief Justice Tani Cantil-Sakauye, Alexanra Havrylyshyn, attorney Selma Moidel Smith, and California Supreme Court Historical Society president George Abele.