Justice Sparks was born in Sacramento, California on March 19, 1933, the son of Judge Lowell L. Sparks of the Placer County Superior Court. Following graduation from Placer Union High School in Auburn, he he obtained his B.A. in 1955 from the University of California at Berkeley. After serving in the United States Navy, Justice Sparks received his J.D. from Boalt Hall School of Law, UC Berkeley, in 1961, where he was Note and Comment Editor of the California Law Review and was elected to the Order of the Coif.
Justice Sparks was in private practice, and acted as Assistant City Attorney for the City of Roseville from 1963 to 1967. In 1963, he became the Chief Deputy District Attorney for Placer County, a position he held until he was appointed to the Placer County Superior Court in 1977. He was elevated by the governor to the Court of Appeal for the Third District in 1981. Justice Sparks retired from the Court in March 1997, but remains active in the legal community as a private judge.