Justice Robert Puglia — A Justice For All
September 14, 2006
Pacific McGeorge has enjoyed the unqualified support of the Sacramento judiciary over the years and many non-alumni jurists have been the law school’s biggest boosters.
Justice Robert Puglia, the late presiding justice of the Court of Appeal, Third Appellate District, was a big booster of Pacific McGeorge even before he embarked on his distinguished career on the bench.
A Boalt Hall classmate of Professor Claude Rohwer, Puglia began his career as a deputy district attorney in Sacramento County in 1959 and worked there for 10 years, later becoming the chief deputy district attorney. At the urging of Dean Gordon Schaber, he joined the law school faculty in 1963 and taught Introduction to the Study of Law, Agency, and Code Pleading, a precursor to today’s Civil Procedure course. He remained a member of the adjunct faculty until 1969.
Puglia practiced law with McDonough Holland & Allen for two years before his appointment to the Sacramento Superior Court by Governor Ronald Reagan in 1971. He was elevated to the Third District Court of Appeal by Reagan in 1974 and replaced Justice Frank K. Richardson as presiding justice when the latter was elevated to the Supreme Court.
Puglia’s 24-year service on the appellate bench was exemplary by any standard. He participated in nearly 10,000 opinions and his court was known for a hefty caseload and a low reversal rate. Puglia served on the Commission on Judicial Appointments on Supreme Court appointments, served as Supreme Court chief justice in 1992 and as an associate justice of the high court on nine other occasions. He served as president of California Judges Association and the Pacific McGeorge-based Anthony M. Kennedy American Inn of Court. He also found time to serve as a volunteer trial judge in the law school’s Advocacy program, was a mainstay on the Lecture Hall stage at the Appellate Advocacy Final Four program, and worked with the off-campus clinical program.
In 1994, Justice Puglia was honored with a Doctor of Laws degree at the Pacific McGeorge commencement ceremony. His picture hangs on the Anthony M. Kennedy Wall of Judicial Honor in the Student Center on a panel with non-alumni jurists who have made significant contribution’s to the law school’s success.
Justice Puglia died on March 11, 2005 in Sacramento at the age of 75 due to complications from cancer.