From Woman Lawyer: The Trials of Clara Foltz -- Online Notes For The Book

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There are three timelines here: the first covers the main events of Clara Foltz's professional life; the second the passage of the women’s clauses at the 1879 constitutional convention; the third the main events in Foltz’s campaign for a public defender.

Life Events

Timeline of the Main Events in the Life of Clara Shortridge Foltz

July 16, 1849: Born in Lafayette, Indiana.

1860-1863: Attended Howe’s Academy in Mt. Pleasant, Iowa.

1864: Taught school in Keithsburg, Mercer County, Illinois; eloped with Jeremiah Foltz.

1872: Moved to Oregon (lived in Portland and Salem).

1874: Moved to San Jose, California.

1876-77: Studied law with father, Elias Shortridge, J.C. Black, and C.C. Stevans in San Jose, California.

February 7, 1877: Delivered first public lecture; spoke on woman suffrage.

April 1, 1878: Woman Lawyers Bill enacted.

September 4, 1878: Took bar examination.

September 5, 1878: First woman admitted to the Bar in California. 20th District Court at San Jose.

January 9, 1879: Started classes at Hastings after moving to San Francisco with her 3 older children; joined by Laura de Force Gordon on second day.

January 11, 1879: Letter from Hastings Registrar advising Foltz that admission to the law school is denied.

January 29, 1879: Admitted to Fourth District Court at San Francisco after examination by W.W. Cope, J.B. Lamar, and Sidney v. Smith.

February 20, 1879: Constitutional Convention passed clause guaranteeing women equal employment opportunity.

February 24, 1879: Foltz and Gordon argued Hastings case before Judge Robert Morrison.

February 26, 1879: Constitutional Convention passed clause guaranteeing equal educational opportunity for women.

March 5, 1879: Won Hastings suit. Opponents appeal.

May 1879: Returned to live in San Jose, California.

November 1879: Divorced from Jeremiah; decree entered.

December 6, 1879: Admitted to California Supreme Court Bar after oral examination.

December 1879: Argued and won Foltz v. Hoge [President of Hastings Board] 54 Cal. 28 (1879).

January 14, 1880: Left for Sacramento to assume duties as Clerk for State Assembly Judiciary Committee. First woman to hold position.

1880: Wrote and lobbied unsuccessfully for suffrage.

1880: Moved to San Francisco with older children to practice and attend Hastings. Lived at Hotel on DuPont Street.

1880: Campaigned for both the state and national Republican Party ticket. Paid political orator.

1881: Elected President of California’s Woman Suffrage Association.

February 1881: Tried Wheeler murder case for prosecution opposite Laura Gordon for defense.

May 1881: Foltz very ill. Mother came to San Francisco to nurse her.

November 1881: Moved back to San Jose but continues practice in San Francisco.

1882: Accepted Henry Cogswell as client for purpose of effecting return of property donated to the University.

January - March 1883: Lobbied in Sacramento on Cogswell Case.

1883: Moved office from 231 Montgomery Street to Phelan Building, 806 Market Street.

March - April 1883: Tried Phelps v. Cogswell, a civil false arrest case.

April 1884: Lawyers Lecture to audience of thousands at Metropolitan Hall, San Francisco.

May 12, 1884: Filed affidavit in Taylor v. Bidwell case asking for an extension of time to file brief because she had been very ill.

November 1884: Elector on the Equal Rights Ticket headed by Belva Lockwood.

July 1885: Filed suit against Cogswell for a fee of $15,000.

September 1885: Lecture tour of Washington, Oregon, Utah, Chicago, Boston, and New York.

October 1886: Switched to the Democratic ticket and campaigns for Washington Bartlett for Governor.

January – February 1887: Lectured in the East.

May 1887: Moved to San Diego, California and founded the San Diego Bee on May 16, 1887.

July 1887: Named to Board of State State Normal School becoming first woman to hold statewide office in California.

November 1887: Sold the San Diego Bee.

January 1888: Opened real estate office in San Diego, California with partner and secretary Maria Crawford.

March 1888: Trial of Foltz v. Cogswell for her fee in San Francisco.

April 1888: Eastern lecture trip to boost San Diego.

May 21-26, 1888: Jury trial in White divorce case.

October-November 1888: Foltz and Laura Gordon employed as campaign orators for the Democrats in Presidential Campaign.

February 25-26, 1890: Attended the Women’s National Liberal Union Convention in Washington, DC.

March 4, 1890: Admitted to U.S. Supreme Court Bar.

1890: Resumed practice in San Francisco.

1891: Becomed the first woman Notary Public in California. Lobbied for parole and penal reform.

June 1892: Tried Elmira Starke case.

1892: Candidate of People’s Party for city attorney in San Francisco.

August 1893: Spoke at the World Columbian Exposition (World’s Fair) in Chicago, Illinois at first meeting of women lawyers, and at Congress of Jurisprudence and Law Reform.

December 1893: Organized the Portia Law Club in San Francisco.

June to November 1894: Frequent meetings of the Portia Law Club drew much press attention.

January 1895: Testified before the California Legislature on the constitutionality of suffrage legislation; suffragists’ efforts resulted in a statewide referendum in 1896.

February 1895: Tried Von Schmidt v. Home for Inebriates.

April 1895: Left on an Eastern tour.

May 7-11, 1895: Salt Lake City--guest of Mr. and Mrs. Isaac Trumbo.

Mid-May to June 12, 1895: Colorado Springs. Tried Bolles v. Bolles case.

July 4, 1895: Newport, Rhode Island with daughters at the home of James T. Kernochan.

July 10, 1895: Sailed for Southampton, England with daughter Virginia.

July 21, 1895: Shipwrecked while crossing from France to England in the Channel.

September 7, 1895: Sailed for New York. Arrived September 16.

February 21, 1896: Admitted to the New York Bar . Set up an office in the Temple Court Building.

June 1896: Represented New York Woman’s Suffrage Association at the Republican Convention in St. Louis.

December 1896: Tried first criminal case in New York and prevented extradition.

January 1897: Introduced the Public Defender Bill in the New York Legislature. Arranged simultaneous introduction in over a dozen states. In June, published Public Defenders in The American Law Review summing up the campaign.

October 29, 1898: Announced the opening of her practice in Denver, Colorado, and began to publish a weekly magazine, “The Mecca” in honor of woman suffrage in the state. Mr. Earl Marble and Callie Bonney Marble are co-editors.

1899: Clara Foltz Gold Mining Co. stock sales and brochure in New York City.

April 1899: Reopened San Francisco office.

1900: Campaign orator for McKinley in Presidential campaign in California and Idaho.

1901: Published “Oil Fields and Furnaces.” Before 1905 consolidated with National Oil Reporter, an organ of Standard Oil.

1905: Organized the Women’s Department for United Bank and Trust Company in San Francisco, California.

1906: Moved to Los Angeles after earthquake and fire in San Francisco.

1906-1911: Organized the Los Angeles Votes for Women Club.

1909: Foltz became the first woman appointed to the California State Board of Charities and Corrections. Serves 1910-1912.

April 1910: Appointed the first female Deputy District Attorney of Los Angeles and serves from 1911 to 1913.

November 1911: Woman suffrage amendment passed by voters.

1913: Specialized in probate and corporation law in Los Angeles.

1916-1918: Edited and published the “New American Woman Magazine” in Los Angeles.

1918: Helped to found the Woman Lawyers Club.

1920: Campaigned for brother Samuel for U.S.Senate; he served two terms from 1921 to 1932.

1921-1922: Headed the Foltz Oil Producers Syndicate.

1925: Appointed to teaching staff at the Los Angeles College of Law (later USC).

1930: Ran for governor of California.

September 2, 1934: Died in Los Angeles, California.

Passage of Constitutional Clauses

Timeline of Events at the Constitutional Convention Leading to Passage of Educational and Employment Clauses 1878 to 1879 see Babcock, Constitution-Maker at 878.

October 1878: Laura Gordon and others appeared before the Committee on Suffrage.

November 1878: Committee on Suffrage reported to Convention. Recommended future legislature may remove disabilities on account of sex (legislative empowerment).

December 1878: First suffrage debate on the floor. Proponents led by Workingmen.

January 9-11, 1879: Foltz and Gordon attended classes at Hastings College of the Law.

January 11, 1879: Women received notice dated 1/10 that they are excluded on account of sex.

January 13-15, 1879: Convention debated woman suffrage sitting as Committee of the Whole. Led by Workingmen; Non-partisans Steele and McFarland also prominent. Defeated.

February 10, 1879: Foltz filed suit for admission to law school in San Francisco District Court.

February 13, 1879: Renewed suffrage debates. Led by Non-partisan James J. Ayers.

February 14, 1879: Hastings successfully moved for a continuance of Foltz’s law suit. Legislative empowerment defeated 55 Ayes; 67 Noes.

Saturday, February 15, 1879: Newspapers reported continuance of Hastings case.

Monday, February 17, 1879: Ringgold introduced employment clause.

February 20, 1879: Employment clause passed without debate by voice vote.

February 24, 1879: Hastings case argued.

February 25, 1879: Extensive newspaper accounts of Hastings arguments.

February 26, 1879: Education clause passed without debate. 103 Ayes; 20 Noes.

March 5, 1879: Women won Hastings case. Opinion cited Woman Lawyer's Bill and employment section of newly drafted constitution.

Public Defender Campaign

Time Line of Events Connected to the Founding of the Public Defender from Babcock, The Public Defender and the Woman’s Rights Movement—1878-1913. This is part of The Women and Social Movements Website available at http://womhist.alexanderstreet.com.

1878-1890: Foltz practiced law in western courts. Saw many injustices from lack of adequate counsel for poor people accused of crime. Also concerned about prosecutorial misconduct. Conceived the idea of a public defender to match the public prosecutor.

1890: Foltz attended the founding convention of the Woman’s National Liberal Union in Washington D.C. and spoke about the Public Defender.

1892: Foltz defended James Wells in a felony trial in San Francisco. Lost verdict because of prosecutorial misconduct.

August 1893: Foltz invited to speak at the Congress of Jurisprudence and Law Reform held in connection with the World Columbian Exposition. Published speech in the Albany Law Journal.

December: Foltz won Wells case on appeal, creating a major precedent on prosecutorial misconduct.

July 1896: Foltz published article: Duties of District Attorneys in Prosecutions in the Criminal Law Magazine.

January 1897: Foltz introduced the Foltz Defender Bill in the New York Legislature

June: Foltz published an article summarizing the Public Defender campaign and arguments for it in the American Law Review.

1909: Foltz appointed to the California State Board of Charities and Corrections. First woman named to post in California. Served for two years.

1910: Foltz appointed the first female Deputy District Attorney of Los Angeles. Served for two years.

November 1911: Women’s suffrage passed in California. Los Angeles adopted city charter that included possibility of a public defender.

1913: First Public Defender Office established in Los Angeles, California.

1921: Foltz Defender Bill adopted (at County option) throughout California.

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