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Oral history interview with Robert C. Belloni

This oral history interview with Robert C. Belloni was conducted by Jim Strassmaier from September 19, 1988, to July 28, 1989. In this interview, Belloni discusses his family background and early life in Coos County, Oregon, including his education. He talks about studying pre-med at the University of Oregon and his service as a U.S. Army medical officer in the Pacific Theater during World War II. He describes landing in Japan just as it surrendered. He talks about returning to civilian life and deciding to go to law school, attending the University of Oregon, and his friendship with Ted Goodwin. He discusses his early law career in Coos County. He also talks about his early political career, holding the offices of chair of the Democratic Central Committee for Coos County and mayor of Myrtle Point. He also talks about his relationship with Wayne Morse. He discusses serving as a Circuit Court judge in Southern Oregon from 1957 to 1967, particularly presiding over juvenile cases. He then discusses serving on the U.S. District Court of Oregon from 1967 to the time of the interview, including the politics of his appointment. He discusses his fellow District Court judges, including Gus Solomon, John Kilkenney, and Otto Skopil. He also talks about the variety of cases that came before him, including on land fraud, asbestos, consumer protections, and several cases involving Native American rights. He discusses his law clerks, judicial process, and ethics. Belloni discusses serving as chief judge on the District Court from 1971 to 1976, and the duties and responsibilities of that position, including his work in establishing the magistrate system and the sentencing council. He closes the interview by discussing changes in the court systems over the 20th century, his experience as a senior judge, and his personal life.

In addition to the audio recordings of the interview, this collection includes several photographs of Belloni and a signed photograph of Robert D. Holmes.

Belloni, Robert C. (Robert Clinton), 1919-1999

Oral history interview with Sidney Lezak

This oral history interview with Sidney Lezak was conducted by Jack G. Collins from August 16, 1988, to June 6, 1990. In this interview, Lezak discusses his family background and early life in Chicago, Illinois. He speaks briefly about beginning his college studies before enlisting in the U.S. Air Force in 1942. He describes flying missions in Europe during World War II. He then briefly talks about completing his studies at the University of Chicago; his marriage to Muriel Deutsch; and relocating to Oregon.

Lezak discusses practicing law in Portland, Oregon. He talks about some of the cases he worked on, particularly regarding labor law and civil rights. He also talks about judges he argued before, including Gus Solomon. He discusses his involvement with the Democratic Party of Oregon, including serving as legal counsel. He then talks about his appointment as U.S. attorney for Oregon and his service in that role from 1961 to 1982. He discusses his work toward making the U.S. attorney's office non-partisan; working with the FBI and local law enforcement; and some of the cases he prosecuted, including mail fraud. He talks about civil unrest during the Vietnam War, and about prosecuting protesters and conscientious objectors. He talks about judges on the U.S. District Court that he argued before, including William East, Gus Solomon, and John Kilkenny. He also speaks about his staff and law clerks, particularly Kristen Olson, who later became U.S. attorney. He discusses the American Indian Movement in Oregon, including relations with the Warm Springs tribe. Lezak discusses his resignation in 1982 in response to the policies of the Reagan administration. He closes the interview by talking about his activities since leaving office, including his career as a mediator.

Lezak, Sidney I., 1924-2006

Oral history interview with Gus J. Solomon

This oral history interview with Gus J. Solomon was conducted by Rick Harmon at the U.S. District Courthouse in Portland, Oregon, from July 23 to October 18, 1984. In this interview, Solomon discusses his family background and early life in Portland, including his memories of World War I, his Jewish upbringing, his father's store, and his education. He then discusses attending Reed College, his interest in history, and his subsequent transfer to the University of Chicago. He discusses studying law at Columbia University, including his social life in New York, then transferring to Stanford University, including his developing political beliefs. He also discusses his family's financial difficulties during this time period. He talks about the difficulty in finding a job in a law office during the Depression, and about some of the cases he worked on, particularly cases involving civil rights. He also talks about his involvement with the Democratic Party, the Oregon Commonwealth Foundation, and the American Civil Liberties Union. He describes his work toward establishing a legal aid program in Oregon, his work on public power, and his efforts getting jobs for young lawyers, particularly those from underrepresented groups. He describes being rejected for military service in World War II and cases he worked on related to internment of Japanese-Americans, particularly after the war.

Solomon discusses serving as a judge for the U.S. District Court of Oregon. He talks about his election to the bench and the opposition he faced; the adjustment from lawyer to judge; and his relationship with his fellow judges. He describes in detail his techniques for speeding up the judicial process, with some case examples. He then discusses his activities as a senior judge, beginning in 1971, which he describes as being largely the same as when he was an active judge. He talks about hearing cases in other districts, particularly in Southern California; the McCarthy era; and cases with political implications, particularly cases regarding the draft. He talks about serving as chief judge from 1959 to 1971, and the changes he made to rules and procedures of the court. He describes some of the law clerks he's had over his career, including Jerome Kohlberg, Jr. He speaks briefly about his early opposition to clubs with discriminatory policies. Solomon provides advice to lawyers on how to win cases, and discusses lawyers he has worked with. He talks about sentencing, judicial activism, and interpreting law.

Solomon closes the interview by talking about his personal life and activities. He discusses the many organizations he has belonged to, including the Reed College Alumni Association and Amnesty International. He also talks about organizations he regularly donates to, including the Jewish Federation. He describes his family life and the activities of his children and grandchildren.

Solomon, Gus J. (Gus Jerome), 1906-1987

Oral history interview with Libby Solomon

This oral history interview with Libby Solomon was conducted by Jim Strassmaier at Solomon's apartment in Portland, Oregon, from October 25 to November 22, 1989. In this interview, Solomon discusses her family history and early life in Russia and Portland, including assimilating to American culture as a young child; the death of her older sister, Roza Willer; her Jewish upbringing; and her education. She then discusses her brief education at Reed College and her love for microscopic work. She briefly discusses her Democratic politics. She talks about working in medical labs with various doctors, particularly Edmund Sears. She discusses her involvement in the Democratic Party and the Oregon Commonwealth Federation, as well as the people she met through those organizations, including Monroe Sweetland, Ruth Haefner, and Gus Solomon, who became her spouse. She speaks at length about Gus Solomon's appointment to the U.S. District Court of Oregon. She discusses some of her later activities, including taking classes at the Portland Art Museum School, and serving on the Portland art and zoo commissions. She also talks about her and Gus Solomon's decision to quit all clubs and organizations that had discriminatory admittance policies. She closes the interview by discussing her work on integrated housing.

Solomon, Libby (Elisabeth), 1909-2004

Oral history interview with James A. Redden

This oral history interview with James A. Redden was conducted by Michael O'Rourke in Redden's chambers at the U.S. District courthouse in Portland, Oregon, from November 30, 1994, to January 14, 2002. The audio is incomplete; Tape 27 is missing as of 2015.

In this interview, Redden discusses his family background and early life in Massachusetts, including his memories of the Depression. He then talks about his Army service in the Pacific theater during World War II. He discusses his college experience at the Boston University College of Business Administration and the Boston College Law School, including his social life, his professors, and the evolution of his political views. He also talks about his marriage to Joan Johnson; his jobs after law school; and relocating to Oregon. He discusses practicing law in Medford, including some of the cases he tried and judges he argued before. He then talks about his involvement with the Democratic Party, including serving as central committee chair and his involvement in Oregon campaigns, particularly the 1960 Democratic presidential primary.

Redden discusses serving in the Oregon House of Representatives from 1962 to 1969. He describes each legislative session, including his campaigns; legislation that came up, including on pollution, insurance, electrical utilities, and taxes; and his fellow legislators, including Clarence Barton, Monte Montgomery, and Berkeley Lent. He also talks about balancing his legislative duties with his law practice and family life; working with lobbyists; and national politics contemporary to the interview in 1995. He also talks about the passage of the Beach Bill in 1967; his experience as a delegate to the 1968 Democratic National Convention in Chicago, Illinois; and his 1972 campaign for Oregon treasurer. He discusses serving as state treasurer from 1972 to 1976, including his duties and accomplishments. He then discusses serving as Oregon attorney general from 1977 to 1980, including his campaign and cases he prosecuted, particularly on Native American fishing rights.

Redden discusses serving as a judge on the U.S. District Court of Oregon from 1980 to 1995. He describes his appointment by President Jimmy Carter. He talks about his fellow judges, including Helen Frye and Owen Panner; the procedures of the court, particularly scheduling and the role of magistrate judges; and lawyers that argued before him. He discusses the selection and role of juries in federal court, as well as the increasing politicization of judicial appointments. He speaks at length about his role in and the background of The United States v. Loudhawk and the American Indian Movement. He closes the interview by discussing cases he heard regarding the Wild and Scenic Rivers Act in the late 1990s, and talking about his children, their careers, and their families.

Redden, James A.