For a guy who aspired to be a farmer, Marvin Baxter has done well.
Not that there’s anything wrong with farming, but serving as a justice on the California Supreme Court is hard to beat.
Baxter, who turns 70 on March 11, took some time after oral arguments on Wednesday to address about 60 students who’d bused up from Fresno City College. He was relaxed and chatty, standing in his judicial robes in the courtroom, a far cry from the more reserved figure he strikes on the bench and in some public venues.
Having grown up on a farm in Fowler, just outside Fresno, he told the kids, he one day mentioned to his dad — a farmer and owner of the local Chevy dealership — that he decided against going to college. He wanted to farm.
Baxter said his dad told him, “That’s great. I can start you out at a dollar and a quarter an hour and you’ll never get a raise.”
“I begrudgingly went to Fresno State,” Baxter said. “So for someone who never had a philosophy case, [his father] made his point.”
When he got to Hastings years later, Baxter said, the dean told the assembled students that two out of three of them wouldn’t be back the next year. The guys on either side of Baxter were from Harvard and Yale. That didn’t help his confidence, he said, but he made it.
“I say that,” Baxter said, “to let you know: Don’t sell yourself short.”