Geoffrey Wright (1989-2020)

Geoffrey Wright Geoffrey Hall Wright served as a fellow in the California Office of the Solicitor General (OSG) from 2017 to 2019. He embodied the qualities that we aspire to as professionals and as people.

Geoff was born and raised in Northern California. He attended public high school in Santa Rosa, followed by the University of California, Los Angeles, where he majored in Environmental Science and wrote for the Daily Bruin. He later enrolled at The George Washington University Law School, serving as the managing editor of the law review and graduating Order of the Coif.

After clerking for Judge Deborah Cook on the Sixth Circuit, Geoff returned to California to begin his fellowship in OSG. In applying for the fellowship, Geoff emphasized his passion for appellate law and his desire “to grow as a lawyer while serving the public interest” and helping to “ensur[e] that the law serves all Californians.”

Geoff’s work on behalf of the People and State of California had an immediate impact. Within a few weeks of joining OSG, he was assigned to work on emergency appellate briefing related to California’s suit to block the termination of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program. That lawsuit ultimately succeeded, allowing nearly 700,000 young people to retain their work authorization and protection from immigration removal. Over the first year of his fellowship, Geoff presented a successful argument in the First District Court of Appeal; served as a panelist on multiple moot courts; and contributed to an array of appellate briefing projects. For example, he drafted sections of our merits briefs in two significant civil cases in the California Supreme Court, and provided editorial assistance to attorneys in the legal divisions on other appellate briefing projects. In his second year in OSG, Geoff’s projects included serving as the lead attorney in a high-profile Fourth Amendment case in the California Supreme Court—a case in which Geoff signed our merits brief and presented oral argument.

In each of these projects, Geoff was diligent, collaborative, thoughtful, creative, and careful. He thoroughly researched every aspect of the case and prepared drafts that were persuasive, well-written, and measured in their tone. His prose and his grasp of legal doctrine reflected a sophistication far beyond his years.

But what truly set Geoff apart were his qualities as a colleague and a friend. Geoff was unfailingly humble. There was no task he would not volunteer for, whether daunting or menial. He treated everyone with kindness and respect, no matter how senior or junior they were in the organization chart. He listened. He built positive working relationships with co-workers across the Department—even in difficult and stressful situations—and those relationships inevitably blossomed into friendships. He could be quiet and introspective when called for in a professional setting, but that trait belied his love of a good time and a hearty laugh with friends. After hours and on lunchtime runs with his colleagues in OSG, Geoff’s cheer and love of life were apparent and infectious.

As his colleagues in OSG came to know Geoff better, they discovered his many different passions and interests outside of the law. Geoff loved to travel. He loved the outdoors, and had a special fondness for the Sierras. He camped, hiked, and backpacked throughout the State, including two thru-hikes of the John Muir Trail. He also completed a nine-day, off-trail solo trek through the Wind River Range. He golfed, rock-climbed, and ran—recording a blistering pace of 6:43 per mile in the 2019 Bay to Breakers. He liked to follow his workouts with a plunge into the San Francisco Bay. He loved public celebrations and concerts and gatherings of any kind. He loved to read, and could be outspoken about his preference for the writings of Muir over those of Thoreau. Most of all, he loved his friends, his partner Amanda Carrillo, and his parents, Elizabeth and Gene.

Geoff passed away following a cardiac event in October 2020. He was surrounded by friends and family. In 2023, the Solicitor General decided to rename the OSG fellowship the Geoffrey Wright Solicitor General Fellowship, to memorialize Geoff and to honor his many contributions to OSG, the Department, and the State.

Geoff is no longer with us in body, but his spirit endures and inspires us every day.

Geoffrey Wright