Walter Burton COPE. Personally a man of genial presence, deep sympathies and many social interests, on the bench the law had in the late Judge Walter Burton COPE an inflexible exponent of unassailable integrity and fearless in decision. Twice elected judge of the Superior Court in Santa Barbara County, he served in many other responsible offices before coming to San Francisco, where his death occurred at the early age of forty-eight years.
Judge COPE was always proud of being a native Californian, his birth having taken place at Sacramento, in 1861. A fortunate home environment made possible the development and cultivation of natural talents, and after taking an academic course at San Mateo, a university and law course followed. In 1883 he was graduated from the Hastings College of Law, and in 1886 he was graduated from the University of California with high honors.
Mr. COPE located in Santa Barbara County and entered upon the practice of his profession, and the able handling of some notable cases of litigation in his early practice directed attention to his legal qualifications that subsequent events proved sound and reliable, and thus, without much effort on his part, caused such general public approval that he was elected district attorney by a large majority, although in politics he was a democrat and the county was normally republican. Prior to this he has been associated in practice with the late Judge Charles FERNALD and Atty. J.J. BOYCE, both of whom had high opinion of his knowledge of the law and its proper application. After exceedingly valuable services to Santa Barbara County as district attorney he was called to the Superior bench, and served the public so faithfully and adequately that a reelection followed. In 1899 Judge COPE resigned as Superior Court judge, prior to removing to San Francisco, where a wider field was afforded for his talents. In this city he became a member of the law firm of MORRISON, COPE, FOSTER & COPE, which later became MORRISON, COPE & BROBECK, which continued until his death, one of the best known law firms in San Francisco.
For a number of years Judge COPE was president of the San Francisco Bar Association, and at a time of his death was a director of Hastings Law College, and for a time was president of the Alumni Association of the University of California.
In 1903, at Napa, California, Judge COPE married Miss Ethel HARTSON, a member of a prominent family of that section. Mrs. COPE and their two daughters survive. Judge COPE was a Mason of high degree. He belonged to such representative clubs of San Francisco as the Pacific Union, University of California, Southern, Olympic and Commonwealth.
Transcribed by Deana Schultz.
Source: "The San Francisco Bay Region" Vol. 3 page 274-275 by Bailey Millard. Published by The American Historical Society, Inc. 1924.
© 2004 Deana Schultz.
California Biography Project
San Francisco County
Golden Nugget Library