Finding Aid of the Richard M. Mosk Christopher Commission records
Table of Contents
Finding aid prepared by Jacqueline Morin, 2012
- USC Libraries Special Collections
- Mosk, Richard M.
- Richard M. Mosk Christopher Commission records
- Collection no.
- 1.0 linear ft., 1 banker's box
- Chaired by attorney Warren Christopher, the Independent Commission on the Los Angeles Police Department was formed in the wake of the 1991 videotaped beating of Rodney King by several LAPD officers. The collection consists of files kept by Richard M. Mosk in his capacity as a member of the Commission.
[Box/folder# or item name], Richard M. Mosk Christopher Commission records, Collection no. 0395, Regional History Collection, Special Collections, USC Libraries, University of Southern California
On March 3, 1991, an American construction worker named Rodney King was severely beaten by Los Angeles police officers after leading them through the San Fernando Valley on a high-speed car chase. A bystander, George Holliday, witnessed the beating and videotaped much of the incident from a distance.
Footage from Holliday's videotape showed a group of uniformed officers surrounding King while several of them struck him repeatedly with their batons. A large group of officers watched the incident without taking any noticeable action to stop it. When a portion of the videotaped footage was televised in Los Angeles, then by news agencies around the world, the ensuing public outrage increased tension between the local black community and the LAPD.
The public demand for evaluation and reform of police procedures involving the use of force resulted in the formation of two citizens' commissions--one created by Mayor Tom Bradley and one created by Chief of Police Daryl Gates. To avoid overlap, the two commissions subsequently merged to form the Independent Commission on the Los Angeles Police Department, informally known as the Christopher Commission. The 10-member Commission, chaired by Warren Christopher, sought to examine all aspects of the law enforcement structure in Los Angeles that might cause or contribute to the problem of excessive force, including:
- the apparent failure to control or discipline officers with repeated complaints of excessive force
- concerns about the LAPD's "culture" and officers' attitudes toward racial and other minorities
- the difficulties the public encounters in attempting to make complaints against LAPD officers
- the role of the LAPD leadership and civilian oversight authorities in addressing or contributing to these problems.
At the conclusion of its investigation, the Commission synthesized its findings into a 228-page "Report of the Independent Commission on the Los Angeles Police Department." Many of the problems identified by the Commission were attributed to the LAPD's management and administration practices led by Chief of Police Daryl Gates. The Commission published its report in July 1991, three months after the investigation was formally launched.
Richard M. Mosk has been an associate justice of the California Court of Appeal, Second Appellate District, Division Five since 2001 when he was appointed by Gray Davis.
Mosk was born in Los Angeles in 1939, the son of Stanley Mosk, a former California Attorney General and state Supreme Court justice. A graduate of both Stanford University and Harvard Law School, Richard Mosk served as a California Supreme Court law clerk and later was appointed to the staff of the Warren Commission (President's Commission on the Assassination of President John F. Kennedy). From 1981 to 1984, Mosk served as the U.S. appointed judge on the Iran-United States Claims Tribunal, which was established as part of the settlement of the Iranian hostage crisis. Subsequently, he served as a substitute judge on that Tribunal from 1984 to 1997. In 1997, he was reappointed to that Tribunal and served until 2001 when he was appointed to his current position on the California Court of Appeal.
In 1991, Mosk served as a member of the Independent Commission on the Los Angeles Police Department, also known as the Christopher Commission. The Commission was formed to investigate the L.A.P.D. shortly after the highly publicized beating of motorist Rodney King.
Between 1994 and 2000, Mosk served as both Chair and Co-Chair of the Motion Picture Classification and Rating Administration (of the Motion Picture Association of America) that provides the parental ratings for motion pictures.
Justice Mosk has practiced law in Los Angeles, tried both civil and criminal cases, and argued cases before the California and United States Supreme Courts. He has taught law at the University of Southern California Law Center and the T.C. Beirne School of Law at Queensland University in Australia. In addition, he has lectured at many law schools in the United States, Europe, and Asia. For the past several years, he has taught a freshman seminar at USC.
Scope and Content
The collection includes police commission correspondence, status reports and final reports of the Independent Commission, testimony transcripts, a transcript of messages from the LAPD Mobile Digital Terminal System, and the transcript of an oral history of Mosk.
USC Libraries Special Collections
Doheny Memorial Library 206
3550 Trousdale Parkway
Los Angeles, California, 90089-0189
Conditions Governing Access
COLLECTION STORED OFF-SITE. Advance notice required for access.
Conditions Governing Use
All requests for permission to publish or quote from manuscripts must be submitted in writing to the Manuscripts Librarian. Permission for publication is given on behalf of Special Collections as the owner of the physical items and is not intended to include or imply permission of the copyright holder, which must also be obtained.
Donated by Richard M. Mosk.
Related Archival Materials
Independent Commission on the Los Angeles Police Department records (Collection 229) is held in Special Collections at the University of Southern California Libraries.
The National Archives holds the Richard M. Mosk papers, a small collection regarding the proceedings of the Warren Commission. Mosk was a member of the staff of the Warren Commission's President Commission on the Assassination of President John F. Kennedy.
Controlled Access Headings
- Independent Commission on the Los Angeles Police Dept. (Los Angeles, Calif.). -- Archives
- Los Angeles (Calif.). Police Dept. -- Trials, litigation, etc.
- Briseno, Theodore J. -- Archives
- Gates, Daryl F., 1926-2010 -- Archives
- King, Rodney, 1965-2012 -- Archives
- Koon, Stacey C., 1950- -- Archives
- Mosk, Richard M. -- Archives
- Powell, Laurence -- Archives
- Wind, Timothy E. -- Archives
- Police brutality--California--Los Angeles--Archival resources
- Police misconduct--California--Los Angeles--Archival resources
- Police--California--Los Angeles--History--20th century--Archival resources
- Police-community relations--California--Los Angeles--History--20th century--Archival resources
- Racism--United States--History--20th century--Archival resources
- Trials (Police misconduct)--California--Los Angeles--Archival resources
Police Commission Correspondence: Vol.1, Pt.1 April-May 1991
Police Commission Correspondence: Vol.1, Pt.2 (1 of 2) April-May 1991
Police Commission Correspondence: Vol.1, Pt.2 (2 of 2) April 1991
Police Commission Correspondence: Vol.2 June 1991 - September 1995
Letter to Richard M. Mosk from Warren Christopher 31 July 1991
Los Angeles Times Poll July 1991
Misc. Reports, Articles, and Correspondence July 1991
Town Hall of California May 1992
Chronology of Implementation of Recommendations by the Independent Commission on the LAPD 14 October 1991
L.A. County Sheriff's Department Executive Planning Council Response to Sheriff Sherman Block on the Christopher Commission Report 6 September 1991
Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department: A Report by Special Counsel James G. Kolts & Staff July 1992
Transcripts of testimony before the Independent Commission June 1991
Selected messages from the LAPD Mobile Digital Terminal System 1 November 1989 - 4 March 1991
Report of the Rampart Independent Review Panel November 2000
Report of the Independent Commission: Summary of Report (unpublished)
Status Report of the Independent Commission on the Los Angeles Police Department January 1992
Report of the Independent Commission on the Los Angeles Police Department 9 July 1991
Report of the Independent Commission on the Los Angeles Police Department: Summary (published) 9 July 1991
Implementation Status Report from Daryl F. Gates to Board of Police Commissioners 31 December 1991
The Honorable Robert C. Bonner 14 January 2001
Honorable Richard M. Mosk: An Oral History 2011 November
Scope and Content
This folder contains the 104-page transcript of an oral history by Richard M. Mosk, as told to Matthew Mosk. The oral history was done as part of the California Appellate Court Legacy Project