Item SR1251_T06S1 - Oral history interview with Jack G. Collins [Sound Recording 11]

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Oral history interview with Jack G. Collins [Sound Recording 11]


  • 1998 (Creation)


Audiocassette; 00:44:58

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Jack Gore Collins was born in Waukegan, Illinois, in 1930. He joined the Navy Reserve Officer Training Corps to pay his tuition to Princeton University, where he graduated in 1952. He then served in the Navy at the tail end of the Korean War. He met Janine Decker during leave in 1954, and they were married in 1957; they later had three children. He earned a law degree at Harvard Law School in 1958. After graduation, he relocated to Oregon to be a law clerk for Oregon Supreme Court Justice Walter Perry for a year. In 1958, he went into private law practice in Salem, Oregon. He became an assistant attorney for the U.S. Department of Justice in 1963. He worked under U.S. Attorney Sidney Lezak. He was promoted to first assistant U.S. attorney in 1966. In 1982, Charles Turner replaced Sidney Lezak, and Collins was made chief of the Civil Division. In 1992, his title changed to chief of the Asset Forfeiture Division. He retired three years later, in 1995. He taught administrative law at Lewis and Clark College and later at Portland State University. He died in 2010.

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Tape 6, Side 1. This oral history interview with Jack G. Collins was conducted by Sarah Ryan in 1998. In this interview, Collins discusses his family background and early life in Waukegan, Illinois, including working at the town’s sewage treatment plant. He also discusses the family background of his wife, Janine Decker. He then discusses attending Princeton University, particularly his experiences in the Navy Reserve Officer Training Corps. He also talks about serving in the Navy during the Korean War after graduation, from 1952 to 1954. He describes his and Janine Decker’s courtship and later marriage. He speaks briefly about attending Harvard Law School. He then talks about relocating to Oregon, passing the Oregon bar, and working as a law clerk for Oregon Supreme Court Justice Walter Perry. He describes his fellow law clerks, as well as working on a draft of the Oregon Post-Conviction Hearing Act. He describes the careers of many of the lawyers he’s known while in private law practice in Oregon. He also speaks at length about the kinds of cases he tried, including Revolutionary War land scrip cases.Collins discusses his admiration for John F. Kennedy and becoming an assistant U.S. attorney in 1963. He talks about working under U.S. Attorney Sidney Lezak. He also discusses his family, salary, and living situation during this time period. He also briefly shares his memories of the 1962 Columbus Day storm and the 1980 eruption of Mount St. Helens. He talks about some of the cases he prosecuted, including cases on maritime matters and mail fraud. He describes becoming first assistant U.S. attorney and how his duties changed. He talks about cases he worked on as first assistant, including regarding foreclosures and urban renewal, pornography, and the environment. He speaks at length about protests against the Vietnam War and during the civil rights movement, and how the U.S. attorney’s office handled related cases. He also talks about the planning of the Vortex music festival in 1970; the FBI investigation of Dan Cooper (also known as D.B. Cooper) and the hijacking of Flight 305 in 1971; and the bombing of the Bonneville towers by a man calling himself “Jayhawker” in 1974. He describes his secretaries. He talks about white-collar crime, civil rights enforcement, and the use of blue boxes for wire fraud. He also discusses Rajneeshpuram and several of the cases related to the activities of the Rajneeshees. He talks about the War on Drugs, which was ramped up under the George H.W. Bush administration, and some of the related cases he worked on. He describes fighting and investigating wildfires; his dealings with the Bonneville Power Administration and the Northwest Power Planning Council; and civil forfeiture. He also discusses Native American fishing rights.Collins discusses his retirement in 1995, including his retirement party. He talks further about Janine, her career as a librarian, and her later diagnosis with Cushing’s Disease. He then talks about his children, their families, and their careers. He talks about teaching administrative law at Lewis and Clark College and Portland State University, his involvement with the Korean United Presbyterian Church, and his stance on the legalization of marijuana. He closes the interview by reflecting on the changes in the way the U.S. attorney’s office operates, his most difficult cases, and his admiration for some of the people he’s worked with.

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Joint copyright for this interview is held by the Oregon Historical Society and the U.S. District Court of Oregon Historical Society. Use is allowed according to the following statement: In Copyright - Educational Use Permitted:

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  • English

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61.8 MiB


April 2, 2020 11:19 AM

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