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Hon. Frank Damrell, Jr. Appointed to Council

February 2014

For the Hon. Frank Damrell, Jr., 14 years as a Federal Judge of the United States District Court was a good warm-up act for his current role as one of the newest members of the Delta Stewardship Council.

“I think my position as a Federal Judge was a pretty good training ground in terms of developing good judgment and a willingness to listen to multiple sides of the Delta water issue,” said Damrell.

Damrell was appointed to the Council on March 13, 2013 by Gov. Jerry Brown to fill the unexpired term of Felicia Marcus, whom Brown appointed in late 2012 to chair the State Water Resources Control Board. He was confirmed by the Senate in January 2014 and subsequently reappointed to his own full four-year term by Gov. Brown earlier this month.

While he’s ready and willing to listen to those “multiple sides,” Damrell believes at some point an important legal concept will come into play because of the volatile issues being discussed. That concept is “the art of compromise” – an idea he believes will finally break the Delta water logjam.

“If we could all step back a bit from our immediate and important self-interests and take a broader view of what is best for the state, then I think many of these issues can be resolved,” said Damrell. “Not everyone is going to be happy, but everyone will recognize these issues have to be resolved and that resolutions sometimes require sacrifice and a degree of accepting responsibility for not just ourselves, but for everyone who is impacted by the water issues.”

Judge Damrell has been practicing law since 1968, when he started his own firm in Modesto following his graduation from Yale Law School. That eventually led to working as a Deputy District Attorney in Stanislaus County and becoming a Deputy Attorney General for the State. During this time, he was also a leader of numerous charitable, educational, political, and cultural organizations and activities.

Governor Ronald Reagan appointed him to the California State Consumer Advisory Council, followed by Governor Jerry Brown making him Chair of the organization. Finally in 1997, President Bill Clinton appointed him as a Federal Judge.

Subsequently Judge Damrell was appointed by the Chief Justice of the United States, John Roberts, to serve on the Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation. And he was selected by the Chief Justice of the California, Tani Cantil-Sakauye, to be a leader of the Federal/State Steering Committee on Civic Education. And, as if he wasn’t busy enough, he has also served on the Board of Regents for University of Santa Clara, the Board of Overseers of the University of San Francisco, and the Board of Trustees for the University of California in Merced.

Although technically retired, Damrell believes there are still concerns worth his efforts, in particular California’s water issues.

“And if we don’t resolve the water issues as they relate to the environment, as well as the delivery of water to millions of folks in California, the future is going to be bleak,” said Damrell. “Implementation of the (Delta) Plan is critical, and to the extent that we can help in resolving the (water) issues that California faces, it’s rewarding.”

To learn more about Council member/Judge Frank Damrell, Jr., visit his biography and/or watch the Council meetings on the DSC website.

Coequal goals

The Delta Stewardship Council was created in legislation to achieve the state mandated coequal goals for the Delta. "'Coequal goals' means the two goals of providing a more reliable water supply for California and protecting, restoring, and enhancing the Delta ecosystem. The coequal goals shall be achieved in a manner that protects and enhances the unique cultural, recreational, natural resource, and agricultural values of the Delta as an evolving place." (CA Water Code §85054)