Former Berkeley Law Dean and Professor Emeritus Sanford Kadish, one of the world’s foremost criminal law scholars, died Friday, Sept. 5, in Berkeley of kidney failure. He was 92.

“Without a doubt, Sandy was the leading criminal law scholar nationally of his time,” said longtime Berkeley Law Professor Jesse Choper, who succeeded Kadish as dean. “He was among a small handful of the most distinguished faculty members we’ve ever had.”

Nearly 50 years after it first appeared, Kadish’s Criminal Law and Its Processes remains the most widely used casebook in criminal law, one that set a high intellectual standard for the field. His books, articles, and teaching inspired generations of scholars to take an expansive view of criminology—and to examine it through the lenses of sociology and philosophy.

New York University Law Professor Stephen Schulhofer partnered with Kadish on the casebook for more than 35 years. Though seldom in the same city, they worked closely together “ruminating, arguing, drafting and editing, and a good many times passionately disagreeing,” Schulhofer said. “Through it all, Sandy was unfailingly warm, good humored, and profusely generous with his friendship and support. I know that many colleagues throughout the academic world feel—even if they had never even met Sandy—that their work was touched and shaped by his probing intellect and his vision of justice.”

Berkeley Law Professor Christopher Kutz noted that “virtually every other criminal law casebook remains indebted” to Kadish, and “virtually every influential criminal law scholar has been taught or mentored by Sandy.” Kadish’s article “Methodology and Criteria in Due Process Adjudication” remains one of the 100 most cited law review articles of all time, Kutz said.


Kadish joined the Berkeley Law faculty in 1964 and served as dean from 1975 to 1982. He was the driving force behind the school’s pioneering Jurisprudence and Social Policy (JSP) Program, a unique Ph.D. initiative that teaches students to analyze legal ideas and institutions within the framework of disciplines such as economics, history, and sociology.

When UC Berkeley’s School of Criminology dissolved in 1975, Kadish and fellow law professor Philip Selznick drafted plans for the interdisciplinary Ph.D. program—as well as an undergraduate program in legal studies.

“These enterprises were not only the first programs of their kind, but also became and remain the leaders in their respective fields,” said Calvin Morrill, associate dean of the JSP Program. “Aside from a distinguished career as a legal scholar, Sanford Kadish was a university leader of profound vision and unusual verve.”

Kadish also played a key role in helping Selznick establish the school's Center for the Study of Law & Society (CSLS) as the world's premier research hub for socio-legal studies. The center, which works closely with the JSP Program, draws heralded scholars from around the world.

In November 2012, Kadish was honored at a ceremony dedicating the JSP/CSLS library in his name. Kadish called the library dedication “massively gratifying,” adding that he “invested a good deal of my life at the law school, and it’s heartwarming to be recognized this way.” The library houses books and journals that focus on the intersection of law, social sciences, and humanities—including many authored by scholars Kadish mentored.

Launched in 1978 and geared to students interested in pursuing legal scholarship, policy analysis, and teaching, the JSP Program remained the first and only law school Ph.D. program until the last decade. Over the years, it has significantly expanded its capacity to train students in cutting-edge empirical methodologies.

At the library dedication, Kadish acknowledged that his authority and influence as Berkeley Law’s dean “played a significant role" in securing the program's placement at the law school. He believed it “would provide a tremendous shot of academic red blood corpuscles into our institution. The essential premise of this new endeavor was that it would place an emphasis on viewing the law from the outside rather than just from the inside.”

Born on Sept. 7, 1921, in New York City, Kadish grew up in the Bronx and graduated Phi Beta Kappa from City College of New York. That made him eligible to attend Japanese language school in Colorado. As a Navy officer during World War II, Kadish worked on a destroyer in the Pacific, translating Japanese military documents.

After graduating from Columbia Law School in 1948, he practiced law for three years in New York before a friend from language school enlisted him to help start a law school at the University of Utah. Kadish taught there for 10 years and then taught at the University of Michigan before moving to Berkeley.

During his distinguished academic career, Kadish was a Guggenheim Fellow and a visiting professor at Harvard, Columbia, Oxford, Cambridge, Kyoto-Doshisha University, the Freiburg Institute for Criminal Law, and the University of Melbourne. He received honorary degrees from the City University of New York and Cologne University.

Kadish also served as president of both the American Association of University Professors and the Association of American Law Schools, and as vice president of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. He was editor-in-chief of the Encyclopedia of Crime and Justice and his books include Discretion to Disobey, which he wrote in 1973 with his brother Mortimer Kadish, a philosophy professor at Case Western University who died in 2010.

Despite his many responsibilities, Kadish always made time for colleagues and friends.

“Sandy went out of his way to meet new faculty members,” Choper said. “He had a series of lunches with many of them and mentored a significant number of our senior and junior faculty. I succeeded him as dean, which was ideal. He came by never to critique me, only to help.”

In 2000, Kadish and his wife June conceived of—and generously endowed—Berkeley Law’s Kadish Center for Morality, Law, and Public Affairs to help probe the theoretical and moral aspects of criminal law. Kutz, the center’s director, said “Sandy firmly believed that questions of moral philosophy are not abstractions, but are crucial for us to be able to keep a critical eye on the state’s claim to be able to punish or otherwise coerce citizens to follow the law.”

Kadish was married for 68 years to June, who died in March 2011. He is survived by two sons, Josh Kadish of Portland, Oregon, and Peter Kadish of Orem, Utah; seven grandchildren, and three great-grandchildren.

His family will soon announce plans regarding a memorial service for friends and members of the UC Berkeley community. The family also requests, in lieu of flowers, to please give memorial gifts to the Kadish Center for Morality, Law & Public Affairs.

by Andrew Cohen

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