Matt Sullivan
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Matt Sullivan
Matt Ignatius Sullivan
16th Chief Justice of California

September 1914 - January 4, 1915
Governor Hiram Johnson
William H. Beatty
Frank M. Angellotti
Personal details
Born(1857-11-03)November 3, 1857
Grass Valley, California, U.S.
DiedAugust 6, 1937(1937-08-06) (aged 79)
San Francisco, California, U.S.
Alma materSt. Ignatius College (University of San Francisco) (AB)

Matt Ignatius Sullivan (November 3, 1857 – August 6, 1937) was the 16th Chief Justice of California.[1] Appointed by Governor Hiram Johnson, Sullivan served from August 22, 1914, to January 4, 1915.[2]


Sullivan was born in Grass Valley, California, one of eight children of Michael M. and Margaret Sullivan.[3] In 1863, the family moved to the Mission District of San Francisco. He attended public and parochial schools, graduating with an A.B. degree from St. Ignatius College (later named University of San Francisco).[3] He then studied law at University of California, Hastings College of the Law in the first class, though he left in November 1879 without graduating.[4] He continued reading law with his older brother, Jeremiah F. Sullivan, who also served as a judge of the San Francisco County Superior Court and on the California Supreme Court (the only instance where siblings have served on that court).[2]

In 1879, Sullivan was admitted to the Bar, became known as a skilled trial attorney, and in 1889 joined his brother in the firm of Sullivan & Sullivan.[5][6][7] By 1912, San Francisco Police Commissioner Theodore J. Roche joined the law firm, re-named Sullivan, Sullivan & Roche.[8] Sullivan rose to prominence in the aftermath of the 1906 San Francisco earthquake when he and childhood friend, James Rolph, Jr., set up emergency aid stations in the neighborhoods. Afterwards, Sullivan and Senator Hiram Johnson prosecuted the famous post-fire bribe and graft case against San Francisco supervisor, Abe Ruef.[9] In July 1913, Sullivan was appointed a special prosecutor with the United States Attorney's Office.[10] When Johnson later became Governor, he appointed Sullivan to the Supreme Court in September 1914.[11][12] On November 3, 1914, Sullivan was elected for the remainder of the short term expiring January 4, 1915.[3]

After stepping down from the bench, Sullivan resumed private practice, remained active in politics, and led a series of civic improvements. When his friend James Rolph became first Mayor of San Francisco from 1912 to 1931, and then Governor of California from 1931 until 1934, Sullivan served as a close political advisor.[13]

Law school dean

From September 1912, Sullivan served as the first dean of the law school at St. Ignatius (University of San Francisco) until his death in 1937.[3][14]

Personal life

A bachelor, he lived with his brother, John, and sister, Mary McCarthy.[2]


  1. ^ "Past and Present Justices". California State Courts. Retrieved 2017.
  2. ^ a b c Johnson, J. Edward (1966). "Matt I. Sullivan", History of the Supreme Court Justices of California, 1900-1950. p. 33-35.
  3. ^ a b c d California Blue Book, Or State Roster. Sacramento, CA: California State Printing Office. 1915. p. 475. Retrieved 2017.
  4. ^ "Hastings Community". Hastings Alumni Publications. San Francisco, CA: Hastings College of the Law Alumni Association. 81: 22. Fall 1992. Retrieved 2017.
  5. ^ "Matt Sullivan Dead". Madera Tribune (83). California Digital Newspaper Collection. 7 August 1937. p. 1. Retrieved 2017.
  6. ^ "Sullivan & Sullivan". San Francisco Call (80 (45)). California Digital Newspaper Collection. 15 July 1896. p. 16. Retrieved 2017.
  7. ^ "Judge Sullivan Expected to Resign". Daily Alta California (80 (130)). California Digital Newspaper Collection. 10 May 1889. p. 2. Retrieved 2017.
  8. ^ "Roche is a Junior Member of Law Firm". San Francisco Call (112 (123)). California Digital Newspaper Collection. 1 October 1912. p. 5. Retrieved 2017.
  9. ^ "New Attorneys for the People Coldly Snub Ach and Dozier When They Cross Paths in Court". San Francisco Call (104 (170)). California Digital Newspaper Collection. 17 November 1908. p. 2. Retrieved 2017.
  10. ^ "Prosecutors Investigate". San Francisco Call (114 (38)). California Digital Newspaper Collection. 8 July 1913. p. 11. Retrieved 2017.
  11. ^ "Sullivan Named to Succeed Judge Beatty". Press Democrat (196). California Digital Newspaper Collection. 19 August 1914. p. 1. Retrieved 2017.
  12. ^ "Sullivan on Bench". Los Angeles Herald (271). California Digital Newspaper Collection. 14 September 1914. p. 9. Retrieved 2017.
  13. ^ Worthen, James (2006). Governor James Rolph and the Great Depression in California. McFarland. p. 38. ISBN 0786482966.
  14. ^ "Thirty Students Begin in New Law College". San Francisco Call (112 (114)). California Digital Newspaper Collection. 22 September 1912. p. 34. Retrieved 2017.

External links

See also

Legal offices
Preceded by
William H. Beatty
Chief Justice of California
Succeeded by
Frank M. Angellotti

  This article uses material from the Wikipedia page available here. It is released under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share-Alike License 3.0.



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