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United States District Court Oral History Project
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United States District Court Oral History Project

  • USDCHS
  • Collection
  • 1966-2008 (bulk 1984-2008)

Since 1984, the Oregon Historical Society has partnered with the United States District Court of Oregon Historical Society to interview judges, lawyers and other legal professionals affiliated with that Court.
With an appeal rate at around 10%, the decisions made by the District Court of Oregon have been deeply influential on the laws and peoples of the state. It has presided over decisions on public land disputes and fishing rights, as well as civil rights and law enforcement. The stories of the people that make up this judicial body provide a valuable tool for helping the public understand the pivotal role the court has had on Oregon’s history.

Oral history interviews with John Cooney, by Clark Hansen [Sound Recording 02]

Tape 1 Side 2. Judge Cooney begins this interview by discussing his family history and his early years in Missouri. He explains the organization of professional baseball in the late '40s and early '50s and fondly recalls his time with the New York Giants. While he talks about law school and raising a family while achieving a career, the majority of this four-and-a-half hour interview focuses on Judge Cooney's time with the District Court.

He discusses the unique role of the magistrate judge in Oregon, as well as the distinctions of Southern Oregon. Cooney explains the operation of the federal system, discusses the District Court's jurisdiction in issues involving federal lands, and clarifies the kinds of cases tried by magistrate judges. He also talks about the roles of his two experienced law clerks, describing their duties and abilities and crediting them with an important place in court operations. In addition, Judge Cooney discusses relations between magistrates and Article III judges, the relationships between various agencies, and being a judge in a small town.

The impact of technological advances in the court's operation is evident as Judge Cooney describes maintaining judicial collegiality in Southern Oregon through television appearances at the judges' Monday lunches, teleconferences, and regular phone calls. The focus of the interview is on the types of cases tried, the court's operations, and Judge Cooney's experiences within that operation, rather than on specific cases. He describes the remodeling of the courtroom in Medford and the complexity and wonder of computers and monitors that provide new ways to present visual evidence. The interview closes
with Judge Cooney's perspective on family life, his travels with Eleanor-whom he also credits for his success-and his future retirement.

Cooney, John P.

Oral history interviews with Windsor Dean Calkins, by Monica D. LaRosa [Sound Recording 01]

Session 1. Includes discussions of: family background and early life in Eugene, Oregon; education at University of Oregon and Willamette University Law School, Clark Honors College; portraits of Windsor Calkins (father) and Steve Deutsch; lobbying and drafting bills at the state legislature, including probate code; law practice in personal injury defense, medical malpractice, for public utilities, Eugene Water and Electric Board (EWEB) in particular, and for Sacred Heart Hospital, Eugene. Also includes discussions of court cases, including: Marilyn Durham v Donald Slocum M.D. before U.S. Judge Belloni; Norma Fay Kesey v State of Oregon et al., before Judge William Beckett; Dr. Carl Yeager v Sacred Heart Hospital, before Judge Hogan. Other topics include: professional organizations, including Eugene Inns of Court; U.S. Ninth Circuit Judicial Conference; family life and interest in music.

Calkins, Windsor Dean

Oral history interviews with Windsor Dean Calkins, by Monica D. LaRosa [Sound Recording 02]

Session 2. Includes discussions of: family background and early life in Eugene, Oregon; education at University of Oregon and Willamette University Law School, Clark Honors College; portraits of Windsor Calkins (father) and Steve Deutsch; lobbying and drafting bills at the state legislature, including probate code; law practice in personal injury defense, medical malpractice, for public utilities, Eugene Water and Electric Board (EWEB) in particular, and for Sacred Heart Hospital, Eugene. Also includes discussions of court cases, including: Marilyn Durham v Donald Slocum M.D. before U.S. Judge Belloni; Norma Fay Kesey v State of Oregon et al., before Judge William Beckett; Dr. Carl Yeager v Sacred Heart Hospital, before Judge Hogan. Other topics include: professional organizations, including Eugene Inns of Court; U.S. Ninth Circuit Judicial Conference; family life and interest in music.

Calkins, Windsor Dean

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