USC's Chemerinsky Leaving L.A. for Duke School of Law
The professor is known for his involvement in civic affairs.
By Henry Weinstein
L.A. Times Staff Writer
March 4, 2004
USC constitutional law professor Erwin Chemerinsky, who served as chairman of
the commission that rewrote the city charter in 2001 and on the independent
board that investigated the Los Angeles Police Department's Rampart scandal, is
leaving the city to become a law professor at Duke University Law School in
Durham, N.C., next fall.
Chemerinsky's wife, Catherine Fisk, a noted labor law professor, also will leave
USC to take a position at Duke in the fall.
"Erwin Chemerinsky is one of a kind, and exactly the kind Duke Law School
wants: a first-rate constitutional law scholar, extraordinary teacher, highly
visible public intellectual and a serious lawyer who finds time to advance the
legal reforms about which he is most passionate," said Katharine T.
Bartlett, dean of the school.
Bartlett also praised Fisk as an "emerging leader in the complex field of
Both Chemerinsky and Fisk worked at the Justice Department in Washington before
becoming law professors.
Chemerinsky's contributions to USC "and our community have been
tremendous," said USC Law School Dean Matthew L. Spitzer, noting that
Chemerinsky, 50, has taught at the school for 21 years. He also praised Fisk,
42, for the "valuable contributions" she has made to the school in the
year she has been there, after a decade of teaching at Loyola Law School in Los
Angeles. She has written numerous scholarly articles and is the author of a
forthcoming book "Labor Law Stories."
Chemerinsky, who also taught undergraduate political science classes at USC, has
written books on constitutional law and federal courts.
He has written or co-written briefs in the appeals of numerous high-profile
cases, including the currently pending dispute in the U.S. Supreme Court on the
confinement of prisoners at Guantanamo Bay naval station who were captured
during the U.S. invasion of Afghanistan after the terrorist attacks of 9/11.
Chemerinsky also has argued many cases in federal appeals courts around the
country, frequently as a court-appointed lawyer. Last year, in his first case at
the U.S. Supreme Court, the high court ruled 5-4 against his client, Leonardo
Andrade, in a case that upheld California's three-strikes law.
In addition, Chemerinsky frequently wrote op-ed pieces for the Los Angeles Times
and the Los Angeles Daily Journal, a legal newspaper.
Earlier this year, Mayor James K. Hahn tapped him to head a panel to review city
contracting practices. Chemerinsky said he planned to finish that task by July,
shortly before his scheduled departure date.
Asked if there was anything that he preferred about Duke, Chemerinsky quipped,
"I like college basketball more than college football," referring to
Duke's perennially powerful team.