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United States United States District Court Oral History Project
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Oral history interview with Edwin J. Peterson

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-

Oral history interview with Otto J. Frohnmayer

This oral history interview with Otto J. Frohnmayer was conducted by Clark Hansen at Frohnmayer's office in Medford, Oregon, from November 28 to December 1, 1989. In this interview, Frohnmayer discusses his family background and early life in Portland, Oregon, including facing anti-German sentiment during World War I, his education, and vacations to Seaside. He discusses working in hotels and attending the University of Oregon, including his social life and studying law. He then talks about his early law practice in Medford. He also talks about the effects of the Depression and World War II on the Medford area. He briefly describes some of the judges he argued before. He speaks at length about notable cases he worked on, as well as changes in laws over the 20th century. He then talks about his wife, MarAbel Fisher Braden, and their family life. He talks about the politics involved in judicial appointments; jury trials; and the profession of law. He closes the interview by talking about his plans for the future.

Frohnmayer, Otto J. (Otto John), 1905-2000

Oral history interview with Walter J. Cosgrave

This oral history interview with Walter J. Cosgrave was conducted by Timothy J. Coleman on November 26, 1993. In this interview, Cosgrave discusses his family background and early life in Calaveras County, California, including his education, childhood games, and the experience of being the son of the county sheriff. He the talks about moving to the San Francisco Bay Area and attending high school. He briefly discusses coming to Oregon and getting interested in the law.

Cosgrave, Walter J. (Walter John), 1910-1999

Oral history interview with Herbert M. Schwab

This oral history interview with Herbert M. Schwab was conducted by John C. Beatty on January 17, 1994. In this interview, Schwab discusses his early life in Portland, Oregon. He discusses his early jobs and attending Northwestern College of Law. He also talks about his service in the U.S. Army Reserves in India during World War II under General George E. Stratemeyer. He then talks about practicing law in Portland from 1947 to 1959. He briefly discusses his other activities during that time, including serving on the Portland School Board. He talks about serving on the Multnomah County Circuit Court and the Oregon Court of Appeals. He briefly describes his fellow judges. He goes on to talk about his activities since his retirement in 1980, including serving on the Northwest Power Planning Council and as mayor of Cannon Beach. He closes the interview by talking about Governor Bob Straub, Monroe Sweetland, Dorothy McCullough Lee and Dick Neuberger.

Schwab, Herbert M., 1915-2005

Oral history interview with Edward Leavy

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.

Leavy, Edward, 1929-

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