2004 Public Lawyer of the Year: Roderick Walston

The annual Public Law Section Reception at the State Bar's Annual Meeting was held on Friday, October 8, 2004 from 4:30 p.m. to 6 p.m. in the Sobranes Room of the Hotel Pacific in Monterey.

Biographical Statement of Broderick Walston

Public Lawyer of the Year Roderick WalstonRoderick E. Walston, a lifelong public lawyer, was selected as the 2004 Public Lawyer of the Year by the State Bar of California. He received the prestigious annual award from California Chief Justice Ronald M. George at the State Bar’s Annual Meeting in Monterey October 8, 2004.

Walston’s career in public service spans over 43 years. After graduating from Columbia University and Stanford Law School, where he was an editor of the Stanford Law Review, Walston served as a Law Clerk to Judge M. Oliver Koelsch of the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals from 1961 to 1962. Thereafter, Walston began a long and distinguished career as an attorney with the California Department of Justice.

Walston was one of the first members of the Justice Department’s natural resources practice group, and he quickly became a leader in the field of water rights law.

While a Deputy Attorney General, Walston argued many cases before the United States Supreme Court, California Supreme Court, and other appellate courts. Some of Walston’s major cases include California v. United States, a 1978 case in which the U.S Supreme Court held that federal agencies must comply with state water laws in operating federal reclamation projects; and California v. Cabazon Band of Mission Indians, a 1987 case regarding state regulation of Indian gaming. Another notable case is 1983’s National Audubon Society v. Superior Court, in which the California Supreme Court held the public trust doctrine applies to water rights. This was a landmark case in the evolving law of the public trust. In 1997, Walston received the U.S. Supreme Court “Best Brief Award” from the National Association of Attorneys General.

Walston left state service in 2000 to become General Counsel of the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California, the largest municipal water agency in the United States. In 2002, Walston was nominated by the President of the United States as Deputy Solicitor of the U.S. Department of the Interior. In April 2004, Walston left Interior as the Acting Solicitor to join the law firm of Stoel Rives in San Francisco, where he is a member of the firm’s Resources, Development, and Environment Group.