Charles Fisher ’14

Charles Fisher

Charles Fisher, the son of founding principal, P.M. Fisher, was an Oakland Judge in the 1950s and 1960s and a Republican Party activist.  His name appeared frequently in the Oakland Tribune as the judge who, for example, sentenced a popular jockey for speeding on the freeway and another for running a betting operation in a residential
neighborhood of Montclair.

In 1963 he was written up in the Tribune for condemning conditions in the court holding room, saying the air was so bad that prisoners had collapsed, and for criticizing the jammed (as many as 110 men) holding cell’s single room on Monday mornings. However, two years later, when there was pressure to create a civilian commission to investigate alleged police brutality in Oakland, he went on record saying that this would be a “grave mistake,” adding, “I have been a municipal court judge for nearly 12 years and I have yet to see one authenticated case of police brutality.”

Curiously, in 1971 Fisher crossed paths with former Tech student, co-founder (along with Bobby Seale) of the Back Panther Party, Huey Newton (OT ’59), when Newton was on trial, for the third time, for shooting an Oakland police officer. During the retrial, Newton’s attorney, Charles Garry, subpoenaed former Municipal Judge Charles Fisher, at that time a leader of the Citizens Committee for Law and Order, to answer a charge that his committee was intimidating the 25 judges of the Alameda County Superior Court to “get tougher” in “political cases.” The trial was so heated that, according to the San Francisco Examiner on Oct. 12, 1971, “for the first time in county history, signs have been posted at every entrance to the courthouse and nearby Administration Building advising that all parcels, purses, briefcases, and packages are subject to search by armed sheriff’s deputies.”