This oral history interview with Edward Leavy was conducted by Clark Hansen in Leavy's chambers at the U.S. District Courthouse (known as the Mark O. Hatfield U.S. Courthouse) in Portland, Oregon, from March 2 to April 13, 2004. The portion of the interview conducted on March 30, 2004 (Tapes 10 through 12) appears to have been simultaneously recorded on audiocassette and video. In the audio recording, the parties make reference to the video recording, which is not included in this collection.
In this interview, Leavy discusses his family background and early life on a hops farm in Butteville, Oregon, including his memories of the Depression and his education. He talks about attending the University of Portland and studying at Notre Dame Law School, including his reasons for attending Catholic schools. He also speaks about how his faith informs his morality and judicial decisions, particularly regarding the Fifth Amendment. He discusses serving as a deputy district attorney for Lane County and some of the cases he prosecuted. He reflects at length upon the byzantine workings of the justice system, its strengths and weaknesses, and a judge's role within it.
Leavy discusses his election to the positions of Lane County District Court judge and Circuit Court judge, as well as the elections of other judges in Oregon. He talks about some of the cases he heard and some decisions of his that were reversed. He speaks at length about many of the judges he knew, including Ted Goodwin and Otto Skopil. He discusses the differences between state and federal courts. Leavy describes the magistrate system during the years he was a U.S. Magistrate for the U.S. District Court of Oregon. He then speaks at length about mediating cases and reaching settlements. He discusses some controversial issues he's had to rule on, including drug use, the death penalty, and abortion. He also speaks briefly about his family life.
Leavy discusses serving as a judge on the U.S. Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, beginning with his appointment by President Ronald Reagan in 1987. He discusses some of the cases he heard, including on Rajneeshpuram. He describes the various duties of federal judges; the processes and procedures of the Court of Appeals; and how it differs from the U.S. District Court of Oregon. He talks about his experience as a senior judge on the Court of Appeals since 1997, including mediating for U.S. v. Wen Ho Lee. He then talks about serving on the Surveillance Court of Review from 2001 to 2008, including the history and duties of that court. He also talks about writing opinions, his staff and law clerks, and the workload on the Court of Appeals. He closes the interview by discussing his thoughts on the trend of civil penalties in lieu of criminal, and concerns about the right to privacy.