Student Writing Competition

The Society sponsors the CSCHS Selma Moidel Smith Law Student Writing Competition in California Legal History to promote research and writing on the California Supreme Court and the state’s legal history. The articles are judged by a panel of American legal historians and lawyers.

The winning entries from past competitions are listed below (as PDFs):


The 2022 Student Writing Competition


2022 Student Writing Competition Announcement

The California Supreme Court Historical Society is pleased to announce the winners of the 2022 CSCHS Selma Moidel Smith Student Writing Competition in California Legal History.

1st:  “More than Moratoriums:  The Obstacles to Abolishing California’s Death Penalty.” Leah Haberman

2nd:  “San Fernando Valley Secession:  How a Quest to Change the Law Almost Broke L.A. Apart (and Whether It Still Could).” Ryan Carter

3rd:  “Wind of (Constitutional) Change:  Amendment Clauses in the Federal and State Constitutions.” Simon Ruhland



The 2021 Student Writing Competition


2021-Announcement of Winning Entries

1st:  “Surveying the Golden State (April 1850-June 2020):  Vagrancy, Racial Exclusion, Sit-Lie, and the Right to Exist in Public.”  Kayley Berger

2nd:  “Getting to Tarasoff:   A Gender-Based History of Tort Law Doctrine.”  Brook Tylka

3rd:  “California Wrongful Incarceration Compensation Law:   A History That is Still Being Written.”  Kelly Shea Delvac



The 2020 Student Writing Competition

2020-Announcement of Winning Entries

1st:  “Ronald Reagan v. CRLA:   Politics, Power, and Poverty Law”   Taylor Cozzens

2nd:  “Breaking California’s Cycle of Juvenile Transfer”  Gus Tupper

3rd:  “Stop! Turn the Car Around Right Now for Federalism’s Sake! The One National Program Rule and How Courts Can Stop Its Impact”  Brittney Welch



The 2019 Student Writing Competition

2019-Announcement of Winning Entries

1st:   “Right of Publicity in the Era of Celebrity:  A Conceptual Exploration of the California Right of Publicity, as Expanded in White v. Samsung Electonics, in Today’s World of Celebrity Glorification and Imitation”   Sarah Alberstein

2nd:   “The Right of Free Speech in Privately Owned Premises:  Following up with the Robins v. Pruneyard Judgment”   Parthabi Kanungo


2018-Announcement of Winning Entry

“How a California Settler Unsettled the Proslavery Legislature of Antebellum Louisiana”  Alexandra Havrylyshyn


2017-Announcement of Winning Entry

“California’s No-Duty Law and Its Negative Implications” Michaela Goldstein


2016 – Announcement of Winning Entries

1st:   “A Model for Juvenile Parole Reform: California’s Youth Offender Parole Hearings Challenge the Modern Parole System and Apply the Fundamental Principles in Graham and Miller to the Release Decision-Making Process”
Courtney B. LaHaie

2nd:   “Equal Protection and California Public School Finance” John James Daller 

3rd:  “Hinkley Groundwater Contamination — How Pacific Gas & Electric Avoided Negotiation:A Reassessment of the Changing Scope of Historical Mass Tort Cases” Cory Baker



2015 – Announcement of Winning Entries

1st:   “Laura’s Law: Concerns, Effectiveness, and Implementation”   Jorgio Castro

2nd:   “Inverse Condemnation: California’a Widening Loophole” David Ligtenberg

3rd:   “The Death Penalty Debate: Comparing the United States Supreme Court’s Interpretation of the Eighth Amendment to that of the California Supreme Court’s and a Prediction of the Supreme Court’s Ruling in Glossip v. Gross”  Kelsey Hollander



2014 – Announcement of Winning Entries

1st:   “The (F)law of Karma: In Light of Sedlock v. Baird”   Bradford Masters

2nd:   “California’s Anti-Revenge Porn Legislation”    Lauren Williams

3rd:   “Virtual Cloning”     Shannon Flynn Smith



2013 – Announcement of Winning Entries

1st:   “The Vine Vote: Why California Went Dry”    Jonathan Mayer

2nd:   “The Chinese Must Go”    Greg Seto

3rd:   “Is that a Laptop in your Pocket”    Jacob True



2012 – Announcement of Winning Entries

1st:   “All the Other Daisys”    Catherine Davidson

2nd:   “What’s Sunday All About?”    Jeremy Zeitlin

3rd:   “California Agricultural Labor Relations Act”    David Willhoite



2011 – Announcement of Winning Entries

1st:   “Devilishly Uncomfortable: CA Supreme Court …”    Mike Beitiks

2nd:   “The Taco Truck Rush”    Jaime Massar

3rd:   “Fed Gov’t Exceeds its Power to Regulate … ”    Pantea Rahbar



2010 – Announcement of Winning Entries

1st:   “The Case of the Black-Gloved Rapist”    Sara Mayeux

2nd:   “Jerry’s Judges and the Politics of the Death Penalty”    Joseph Makhluf

3rd:   “The Last of the Beaches”    Justin Dickerson



2007 – Announcement of Winning Entries

1st:   “Chief Justice Roger J. Traynor’s Tax Philosophy”    Mirit Eyal-Cohen

2nd:   “Mosk and Capital Punishment”    Amber A. Trumbull

3rd:   “The Rise and Fall of Rose Bird”    Patrick K. Brown