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William Bennett Turner's Biography

Member Info

Aug 2011


For the past quarter century I have taught The First Amendment and the Press at the University of California at Berkeley.  I also teach First Amendment courses OLLI@Berkeley and at the Fromm Institute at the University of San Francisco.

I practiced law for 45 years. As a San Francisco lawyer, I specialized in unusual litigation, including constitutional law.  I argued three cases before the United States Supreme Court (including two First Amendment cases) and more than 40 cases in lower appellate courts, and I served as lead counsel in many notable state and federal trials.

I graduated from the Harvard Law School in 1963 and, after a Fulbright fellowship in comparative law, I spent three years with a New York law firm.  This was followed by nearly ten years with the NAACP Legal Defense Fund doing civil rights law.  I returned to teach at Harvard in 1977.  I founded my own law firm in San Francisco in 1978 and served as its senior partner until 1992.  I was of counsel to the firm of Rogers Joseph O'Donnell from 1992 to 2008.

I have published more than 40 articles in various magazines, newspapers and law reviews.  I also served as Legal Affairs Correspondent for KQED television, winning numerous awards for news and documentaries on legal subjects.  I was Legal Consultant to the PBS "We The People" series on the Bicentennial of the Constitution. I am the author of Figures of Speech: First Amendment Heroes and Villains (Berrett-Koehler 2011).

There’s a lot more on my web site, www.williambturner.com.


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