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Nossaman Remembers John T. Knox

John T. Knox, 1924-2017

Former Nossaman Name Partner John “Jack” T. Knox passed away on April 4, 2017.  He was 92.

“Jack was a pillar of the Firm, and loved and respected by his colleagues at Nossaman and throughout California,” said Nossaman Managing Partner George Joseph.  “His contributions to the Firm were numerous – he helped found the Public Policy Practice Group, and opened the San Francisco and Sacramento offices.  Without his drive and vision, the Firm would not be where it is today.  He will be sorely missed.”

Mr. Knox began his tenure at Nossaman in 1980, and after retiring from full time practice, remained with the Firm as Of Counsel through 2008.  Prior to joining Nossaman, he served with distinction in the California Assembly, beginning with his election in 1960.  He served as Speaker Pro Tem from 1976-1980, and was one of the most prolific and respected legislators of his generation, successfully authoring key bills and revisions in areas including health care, the environment, water, local government and corporate law.

He was best known for authoring the Knox-Keene Health Care Service Plan Act of 1975 which established a regulatory framework for the then-chaotic field of prepaid health plans (HMOs), “LAFCO” and numerous other landmark local government acts, the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) in 1970 and 1972, the Corporate Securities Act of 1968, and the Bay Conservation and Development Commission Act (BCDC).  In recognition of his public service, Interstate 580 from Interstate 80 to the Richmond-San Rafael Bridge through Richmond was named the “John T. Knox Freeway.”

After 20 years in the California Assembly, Mr. Knox decided to join Nossaman.  In jest, he said he came to this decision largely because he “realized that with three children in graduate school [he] could no longer afford to be an honest politician – [he] had to go out and make some money.”  Former Firm name partner Harold Marsh recruited Mr. Knox to the Firm, having collaborated on a State commission in a thorough re-write of the California Corporations Code.  Mr. Knox was excited to join the Firm, but reluctant to move from his home in Point Richmond to Los Angeles, where Nossaman’s main offices were located.  So in 1980 he successfully expanded the Firm by recruiting lawyers and lobbyists into newly opened offices in San Francisco and his professional home of Sacramento.

“Jack was not one of the greatest, but the greatest California legislator of our times, and that includes the present time,” said former Nossaman Partner William (Bill) T. Bagley, who met Mr. Knox when they were both in law school.  Mr. Bagley was previously a member of the California Legislature, served the U.S. Civil Rights Commission on its Advisory Board, was appointed by President Ford as the first Chairman of the Commodity Futures Trading Commission and served as a member and Chairman of the California Transportation Commission and as a California Public Utilities Commission Commissioner.

Mr. Knox served in the Army during World War II.  He is survived by his wife, Jean and his children John, Charlotte Marie, and Mary Lucretia.

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