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.