Otto Michael Kaus
|Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of California|
July 22, 1981 - October 1985
|Governor Jerry Brown|
|Wiley W. Manuel|
|Edward A. Panelli|
|Presiding Justice of the California Court of Appeal, Second District, Division Five|
December 16, 1966 - July 21, 1981
|Governor Pat Brown|
|Associate Justice of the California Court of Appeal, Second District, Division Three|
December 28, 1964 - December 16, 1966
|Governor Pat Brown|
|Born||January 7, 1920|
|Died||January 11, 1996 (aged 76)|
Beverly Hills, California, U.S.
Peggy Alice Kaus (m. 1943)
|Relatives||Gina Kaus, mother|
|Alma mater||University of California at Los Angeles (B.A.)|
Loyola Law School (LL.B.)
Otto Michael Kaus (January 7, 1920 - January 11, 1996) was an American lawyer and judge from the State of California.
Kaus was born in Vienna, Austria, as the first child of the writers Otto F. Kaus and Regina Weiner. He was already attending school in Great Britain when the rest of his family fled the Nazis in the 1930s. Immigrating to the United States in 1940, his family settled in Los Angeles, California. He graduated from the University of California at Los Angeles in 1942 with a B.A., and then joined the U.S. Army, where he served until 1945. Following his discharge, he graduated from Loyola Law School in 1949, and was admitted to the state bar that year. He then joined the law firm of Chase, Rotchford, Downen & Drukker, where he practiced for 11 years and became a partner.
In December 1961, Kaus was appointed as a judge on the Los Angeles County Superior Court by Governor Pat Brown and, on December 28, 1964, Brown elevated Kaus to the California Court of Appeal, Second District, where he served until 1981. On the appellate court, Kaus served as an Associate Justice of Division Three until December 16, 1966, and then as Presiding Justice of Division Five until July 21, 1981.
In July 1981, Kaus was chosen to serve as Associate Justice of the California Supreme Court by Governor Jerry Brown, whose father had appointed Kaus to his previous post. He was confirmed with little trouble. In 1982, Kaus was on the ballot for retention by the voters, along with fellow justices Cruz Reynoso and Allen Broussard. However, the state Supreme Court had become controversial due to the growing perception by many that Brown's appointees, particularly Chief Justice Rose Bird, were liberal ideologues whose rulings were political. Although Kaus was considered the least ideological and most independent of Brown's appointees, he was reconfirmed by 57% of the voters, far less than expected, after a campaign was waged against Brown's appointees that year.
After being retained, Kaus was shaken by the campaign against him and feared for the independence of the state judiciary. He later remarked, "You cannot forget the fact that you have a crocodile in your bathtub. You keep wondering whether you're letting yourself be influenced, and you do not know. You do not know yourself that well". In addition, his mother-in-law was in failing health. So in October 1985, Kaus resigned from the court. He was replaced by Edward A. Panelli.
While on the bench, his notable cases include his concurring opinion in National Audubon Society v. Superior Court (1983), concerning the conflict between the public trust doctrine and appropriative water rights. In 1984, he wrote the opinion for a unanimous court in People v. Bledsoe that rape trauma syndrome is inadmissible as evidence of the crime.
After leaving the judiciary, Kaus resumed private practice, forming the law firm of Hufstedler & Kaus in 1986 (the other "name" partner was former U.S. Secretary of Education Shirley Hufstedler), where he occasionally argued cases before the state Supreme Court where he had once served. He also mentored then-associate Jeffrey Ehrlich, who would later rise to national prominence for arguing cases in the United States and California Supreme Court.
Wiley W. Manuel
| Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of California
Edward A. Panelli
|| Presiding Justice of the California Court of Appeal, Second District, Division Five
|| Associate Justice of the California Court of Appeal, Second District, Division Three