The membership of the San Joaquin County Bar Association convened at noon on April 26, 2016 at the annual Law Day Luncheon to bestow the 2016 Law Day Award upon John Harris. A near-capacity crowd, including many of Mr. Harris' friends and family, enjoyed the beautiful spring sunshine that flooded into the large banquet room at the Stockton Golf and Country Club.
San Joaquin County Bar Association President James Morris served as Master of Ceremonies for the event and opened with a brief welcome and kind, heartfelt words of fondness and congratulations for Mr. Harris. Following these remarks, Rabbi Jason M. Gwasdoff performed the invocation and the blessing of the meal.
The guest speaker for the Law Day event was Jeffrey Michael, Ph.D., the director of the Center for Business and Policy Research at University of the Pacific. Dr. Michael spoke to those gathered regarding the proposed Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta tunnels project. His comments focused on the negative impacts of the proposal he views as economically unfeasible and on the serious issues he sees with the project's Environmental Impact Report and the recent elimination of the Habitat Conservation Plan portion of the project.
Judge Consuelo M. Callahan of the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit introduced Mr. Harris. Judge Callahan spoke fondly of her long-standing friendship with Mr. Harris and recalled their first meeting while they were both enrolled at University of the Pacific McGeorge School of Law. After Judge Callahan's lovely introduction, Mr. Harris was invited to the stage where he graciously and humbly accepted the Law Day Award.
Mr. Harris not only spoke of his gratitude toward his family, friends and colleagues, but entertained the gathered crowd with a story or two from his more than forty years in practice. (When you see him, ask him about the case early in his career involving the theft of 40 pounds of bananas.) He also left those in attendance with some observations compiled thus far from his long and illustrious career. These observations included the following admonitions: (1) law is not easy and demands dedication from those who would succeed in the profession; (2) remain humble; (3) listen before you speak; (4) ethics and civility serve our profession; (5) the law is logical and makes sense (i.e., when in doubt, do the right thing); and (6) San Joaquin County is a great place to practice law; and 7) each of us need to give back—to our community and to our profession. Those who know Mr. Harris also know that these observations are not just rhetoric, but sincerely held principles by which he lives his life. Mr. Harris received a rousing standing ovation.
Following Mr. Harris' remarks, San Joaquin County Board of Supervisors chair Moses Zapien—also the immediate past president of the San Joaquin County Bar Association—presented a resolution of the Board honoring Mr. Harris. Mr. Morris concluded the event by reminding those in attendance that 2016 marks the fiftieth anniversary of perhaps the nation's best-known United States Supreme Court case, Miranda v. Arizona, which served as the American Bar Association's theme for Law Day 2016.