Remember Lucinda Sikes, who set legal precedents on government transparency


Lucinda Sikes. Credit: Bob Shireman

Lucinda Sikes died suddenly of a heart attack while hiking in Point Reyes on September 19, 2021. She was married to Bob Shireman; mom of Kirby, Camden and McCoy Sikes; daughter of Ken and Sally Sikes; and sister of Melissa and Kendra Sikes. A law professor and consumer advocate, she enjoyed lattes, hiking and cheese pizza.

Lucinda was born on March 28, 1961 at Naval Station Alameda, California. The eldest of three children in a Navy family, Lucinda was the de facto family ambassador; as they moved from place to place, tasting different cultures and ways of life, it was always she who asserted herself and explored the social world, opening up the community to her parents and his sisters. In Japan, where Lucinda lived from 1965 to 1968, from 4 to 7 years old, she learned Japanese and translated for her parents in everyday life. In Georgia, where the family lived from 1968 to 1970, she began her lifelong love of the outdoors as a Campfire Girl in a racially integrated troupe led by Sally. In Tennessee (1973-75), Lucinda joined the cheerleaders and learned to spin a stick. And in California (1968, 1970-73, 1975-79), she fell in love with the beauty of the Pacific coast.

Known to her family as “Cindy,” Lucinda began using her full first name in Marietta, Georgia, when she met another Cindy in her second grade class. As the family continued to move from place to place, Lucinda and her sisters were forced to start over, make new friends, and learn new ways of life. “I think that’s why girls have always been so close,” said her father, Ken.

Lucinda graduated from Los Alamitos High School in 1979. After two years at Pomona College, she transferred to UC Berkeley where she received her BA in Anthropology in 1983. At Berkeley, she joined the grassroots organization CalPIRG (California Public Interest Research Group). There she met Bob and became involved in the defense of consumer and environmental rights. Her full-time job at CalPIRG after graduation prompted her to become a public service lawyer. In 1989, she graduated from Harvard Law School, where she served as Editor-in-Chief of the Harvard Women’s Law Journal, represented clients through the Legal Aid Bureau, and made connections with many classmates. with whom she has made lifelong friendships.

After graduation, Lucinda worked as a lawyer for USPIRG, pushing for consumer safety legislation involving ATVs, toxic art supplies used by children, toys, and other consumer products. His testimony in Congress on toy-related injuries was instrumental in the passage of the Consumer Product Safety Improvements Act of 1990.

In 1993, Lucinda joined the Public Citizen Litigation Group, where she continued her public interest advocacy, now as an appellate litigator. His work has established important legal precedents for open government, including About Craig (1997), who concluded that the grand jury proceedings could be unsealed because of their historical significance. His substantial work at FOIA led to an invitation from the Japan Civil Liberties Union to travel to Tokyo to discuss potential freedom of information legislation in Japan. She eagerly accepted. A highlight of the trip was the chance to reunite with her first year teacher, thanks to her Japanese hosts.

While working at Public Citizen, Lucinda also appeared before the United States Supreme Court. The case, Associate Doctors c. Casarotto (1996), involved a challenge to federal arbitration law. The argument was difficult to make and Lucinda did not prevail. But during oral argument, Judge Breyer congratulated her on the quality of her written brief.

In 1999 Lucinda, Bob and the children returned to California. In 2001, Lucinda began her 20-year career teaching legal drafting at Berkeley Law. As much as she enjoyed litigation under pressure, Lucinda relished the opportunity to train the next generation of social justice advocates and spend more time with her family.

A proud mom (though she didn’t like to brag), she was always excited about every one of her children’s interests, even McCoy’s tarantula. Never a big sports fan before her kids started playing, she always came to every soccer game, track competition and bike race. Bursting with pride and joy and waving her arms wildly from the sideline, she was shouting, “Come on! Go! Go for it ! —Until the kids are 13, 11 and 8, she reads an article that suggests she should do otherwise. She sat her children down and asked them directly, “Do you like it when I encourage you?” “

“No,” said Camden, 11. “It’s stressful and embarrassing.

This is how Lucinda was: caring, supportive, and actively engaged intellectually on how to be more caring and supportive. She read, asked questions and adjusted her behavior accordingly. After the article, she still came to every event, but now she watched quietly, still proud, a silent source of strength on the sidelines.

And this outward-looking passion extended not only to his family, but also to his students and colleagues, friends and his community at large. “She loved to dance,” said a friend and former colleague at PIRG, “and she danced in a way that invited everyone to come in.” Many of her friends will remember her dancing and singing on Talking Heads Burning Down the House. Her family will remember her sitting on the couch with a glass of Zinfandel, singing John Lennon songs (slightly out of tune) while Kirby strums chords on the guitar.

She brought with her everywhere a selfless joy, an infectious enthusiasm and a playful spirit. She shone as a teacher, with several of her students claiming in their assessments that she is the best teacher they have ever had. “Law school can be very tedious,” Lucinda said, and she wanted first-year legal writing class, which she called her students’ “main class,” to be the only place where students could go. ‘have fun. Lover of novels (in hot weather she would lie in the garden hammock and read), she was imaginative and devoted herself to writing legal problems for her students. Each issue was not only carefully crafted to be legally balanced, but accentuated the often humorous weirdness of real Bay Area life: a workers’ compensation case for a departmental bicycle patrol officer. Berkeley Police Officer who slipped on a banana slug; a fair housing law case for a veteran whose emotional support dog behaved badly at a homeless shelter; and a celebrity image affair involving a small online t-shirt store selling shirts criticizing vaccine misinformation.

In lieu of flowers, the family is asking for donations to be made in honor of Lucinda at the East Bay Community Law Center Where Family Planning Action Fund.


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