Justice Marvin R. Baxter of the California Supreme Court was born January 9, 1940 in Fowler (Fresno County), California. He grew up on the family farm and was educated in the local public schools. As a high school student he was active in student government, the student newspaper, and athletics. He was the recipient of a journalism scholarship issued by the San Francisco Press and Union League (1957).
He graduated from California State University, Fresno with a degree in Economics. He was active in student government and served as Commissioner of Athletics (1960-61) and Student Body President (1961-62). Honors received at Fresno State included an Outstanding Senior Award.
Baxter was selected from nationwide competition as a Coro Foundation Fellow in Public Affairs (1962-63). As one of twelve fellows assigned to Coro's San Francisco office, he worked with corporations, labor unions, legislative and executive bodies, governmental agencies, community organizations, and political campaigns and thereby gained valuable practical experience in the arena of public affairs.
He married Jane Pippert Baxter on June 22, 1963. Jane is a credentialed elementary school teacher who taught in Burlingame while Marvin attended Hastings College of the Law. The Baxters have two children, Laura Baxter-Simons (an attorney) and Brent M. Baxter (a certified public accountant), and four grandchildren. Jane retired after teaching for many years in the Fresno Unified School District.
Baxter graduated from Hastings College of the Law in 1966.
Baxter commenced his legal career as a Fresno County deputy district attorney in 1967, where he served for two years. He then became an associate and later a partner in the Fresno law firm of Andrews, Andrews, Thaxter, Jones and Baxter, where he practiced civil law for 13 years.
While practicing law in Fresno, Baxter was very active in bar association activities. He served on the boards of directors of the Fresno County Bar Association, Fresno County Young Lawyers Association, Fresno County Legal Services, Inc. (Legal Aid), and California Young Lawyers Association. He served as President of the Fresno County Bar Association (1981) and as President of Fresno County Young Lawyers (1973-74).
Baxter also devoted considerable service to his alma maters, California State University, Fresno and Hastings College of the Law. He was a board member and president of the Fresno State Alumni Association and of its Trust Council. He is a Director Emeritus of Hastings College of the Law.
In January 1983 Baxter became Appointments Secretary to Governor George Deukmejian and was the Governor's principal advisor on all gubernatorial appointments made to the executive and judicial branches of government. He served in this capacity for six years and assisted in the appointment of more than 700 judges.
Baxter was appointed and confirmed as an Associate Justice of the Court of Appeal, Fifth Appellate District (headquartered in Fresno) in December 1988. He was elevated to serve as an Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of California in January 1991 and, in 2002, was re-elected to a new term of office which began on January 7, 2003.
Justice Baxter is a member of the Judicial Council of California and chairs its Policy Coordination and Liaison Committee. He formerly chaired the Council's Appellate Advisory Committee. Justice Baxter also formerly chaired the California Supreme Court's Building, Official Reports, and Library Committees.
Justice Baxter is the recipient of the 1998 Distinguished Alumnus Award from Hastings College of the Law, the 1996 Distinguished Alumnus Award from California State University, Fresno, the 1996 Mentor Award from the Fresno County Young Lawyers Association, the 1995 Alumnus of the Year Award from the Fresno Chapter of the Hastings College of the Law Alumni Association, the 1993 Man of the Year Award from the Armenian Professional Society, the 1991 Man of the Year Award from the Armenian National Committee, and the 1977 Outstanding Service Award from the Fresno State University Alumni Association.