Otto Kaus
Get Otto Kaus essential facts below. View Videos or join the Otto Kaus discussion. Add Otto Kaus to your topic list for future reference or share this resource on social media.
Otto Kaus
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
Personal details
Born(1920-01-07)January 7, 1920
Vienna, Austria
DiedJanuary 11, 1996(1996-01-11) (aged 76)
Beverly Hills, California, U.S.
Peggy Alice Kaus (m. 1943)
RelativesGina Kaus, mother
Alma materUniversity 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.

Early life and education

Kaus was born in Vienna, Austria, as the first child of the writers Otto F. Kaus and Regina Weiner.[1][2] 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.[3] 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.

Judicial and legal career

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.[4][5] 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".[6] In addition, his mother-in-law was in failing health. So in October 1985, Kaus resigned from the court.[7] 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.[8][9]

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.[10]

Personal life

On January 12, 1943, he married Alice Jane Berta Huttenbach, known as Peggy Alice Kaus (February 8, 1923 – July 5, 2011), in Hyannis, Massachusetts, and they had two sons: Stephen and "Mickey".

Kaus retired from the practice of law in 1995, as he was diagnosed with lung cancer. On January 11, 1996, he died in Beverly Hills, California.[11] His wife and son, Mickey, were at his side.[12]


  1. ^ Ullmann, Michaela. "Exiled German-speaking intellectuals in Southern California: Gina Kaus". USC Libraries. Retrieved 2017.
  2. ^ "Obituary: Peter Kaus". The Daily Courier (Prescott, AZ). November 11, 2016. Retrieved 2017.
  3. ^ "Otto Kaus '42, Professional Achievement Award". UCLA Alumni. Retrieved 2017.
  4. ^ Reidinger, Paul (April 1, 1987). "The Politics of Judging". ABA Journal. 73: 58. Retrieved 2017.
  5. ^ Miller, Kenneth P. (2009). Direct Democracy and the Courts. Cambridge University Press. p. 215. ISBN 1139482777. Retrieved 2017.
  6. ^ "Otto Kaus Dies; Former Justice on State High Court - Los Angeles Times". 2002-07-11. Retrieved .
  7. ^ Blum, Bill (January 1991). "Toward a Radical Middle, Has a Great Court Become Mediocre?". ABA Journal: 52. Retrieved 2017.
  8. ^ People v. Bledsoe (1984), 36 Cal.3d 236, 203 Cal.Rptr. 450; 681 P.2d 291. Retrieved August 24, 2017.
  9. ^ "The California Supreme Court rejected pleas of feminist and some law-and-order groups Thursday by ruling that testimony about 'rape trauma syndrome' may not be used to prove a witness was raped". UPI Archives. June 14, 1984. Retrieved 2017.
  10. ^ "Jeffrey I. Ehrich, Appellate Lawyer | Bad Faith Insurance Law and Motion, Trial Lawyer, Appeals Attorney". Retrieved .
  11. ^ Chiang, Harriet (January 13, 1996). "Obituary--Justice Otto Kaus". San Francisco Gate. Retrieved 2017.
  12. ^ Brown, Janelle (June 4, 2010). "For Mickey Kaus, Winning Isn't the Point". New York Times. Retrieved 2017.

Further reading


External links

See also

Legal offices
Preceded by
Wiley W. Manuel
Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of California
Succeeded by
Edward A. Panelli
Preceded by
Presiding Justice of the California Court of Appeal, Second District, Division Five
Succeeded by
Preceded by
Associate Justice of the California Court of Appeal, Second District, Division Three
Succeeded by

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



Music Scenes