Series 4 - Legal Career

Title

Series 4 - Legal Career

Description

In the early 1950s, Nathaniel and Jerlean opened a private law practice in Sacramento. At the time, Colley was the city’s only African American lawyer, and he quickly established himself as one of the area’s best trial attorneys. He used his skills on behalf of private clients as well as public causes. Locally, Nathaniel fought against police brutality and discriminatory hiring policies within the City of Sacramento. In the landmark case Ming vs. Horgan, Colley persuaded the United States Supreme Court that those receiving federal funds could not engage in discrimination.

As a member of the National Bar Association’s Hall of Fame, Colley taught part-time at the University of Pacific, McGeorge School of Law for seventeen years. While there, Colley worked alongside Anthony Kennedy who once remarked that Colley was more than a great attorney, but also “one of the most gifted of teachers.” In 1987, Colley testified before the Judiciary Committee of the U.S. Senate in support of Kennedy’s appointment to the U.S. Supreme Court.

Items in the Series 4 - Legal Career Collection

Letter from Carey McWilliams
Letter from journalist and attorney Carey McWilliams to Nathaniel Colley, March 1948.

California State Bar Certificate
Nathaniel Colley's California State Bar Certificate, January 1949.

Law Offices of N.S. Colley
A black and white photograph of Nathaniel Colley's first law office in Sacramento, California, c. 1950.

Nathaniel Colley at Work
A black and white photograph of Nathaniel Colley in his law office, Sacramento, CA, c. 1952.

Oliver Ming Sues Real Estate Men for $5,000
Headline and newspaper article covering beginning of landmark case, Ming vs. Horgan, May 1954.

Case No. 43,389
Brief for Case No. 43,389, heard in the California State Supreme Court, c. 1978.

Testimony of Nathaniel S. Colley, Sr. Before the Judiciary Committee of the United States Senate
Testimony of Nathaniel S. Colley, Sr. on behalf of Anthony Kennedy, given before the Judiciary Committee of the United States Senate, December 1987.

McGeorge School of Law Courtroom of the Future
Nathaniel Colley presiding at western regional Mock Trial competition in the McGeorge School of Law Courtroom of the Future, January, 1979.