This oral history interview with Edwin J. Peterson was conducted by Jeffrey C. Dobbins in Salem, Oregon, from August 21 to December 11, 2007. Throughout the interview, Peterson refers to photographs and letters. Copies of some, but not all, of these items are included in the related U.S. District Court of Oregon Historical Society collection, Coll 560.
In this interview, Peterson discusses his family background in Gilmanton, Wisconsin, including the local creamery managed by his father; his childhood activities; and his early education. He also talks about his memories of rural life during World War II. He discusses having asthma and moving to Oregon in 1944 in an effort to improve his health, as well as his high school experience in Eugene. He talks about studying music at the University of Oregon, including his social life, his summer activities, and his involvement with the Young Republicans. He describes his service as a personnel officer in the U.S. Air Force during the Korean War, particularly his experience in administration. He then discusses attending the University of Oregon law school, including the dean, Orlando Hollis; his social life; and his summer jobs. He talks about relocating to Portland to practice law at Tooze, Kerr, Peterson, Marshall & Shenker. He speaks at length about the practice of law, as well as some of the cases he tried, some of his fellow lawyers, and judges he argued before. He particularly focuses on trial preparation and procedures. He also talks about his involvement with the Oregon State Bar, and his friendship with Clay Myers.
Peterson discusses serving on the Oregon Supreme Court from 1979 to 1993. He talks about his appointment by Governor Vic Atiyeh. He describes his fellow judges on the Supreme Court and the Oregon Court of Appeals. He also shows Dobbins his collection of photographs and speaks about them at length. He discusses the procedures of the Supreme Court, some of the cases he heard, and his re-election in 1980. He talks about serving as chief justice from 1983 to 1991, including implementing an integrated court system, the court's budget, and the court's staff. He reads entries from his journals detailing this part of his career. He also discusses the changes in technology, rules of professionalism, and diversity training. He closes the interview by talking about his activities since retiring in 1993, including teaching at the Willamette University law school and working as a mediator.
Peterson, Edwin J. (Edwin Junior), 1930-