Series SR 1225 - Oral history interview with Otto Skopil

Oral history interview with Otto Skopil [Index] Oral history interview with Otto Skopil [Sound Recording 01] Oral history interview with Otto Skopil [Sound Recording 02] Oral history interview with Otto Skopil [Sound Recording 03] Oral history interview with Otto Skopil [Sound Recording 04] Oral history interview with Otto Skopil [Sound Recording 05] Oral history interview with Otto Skopil [Sound Recording 06] Oral history interview with Otto Skopil [Sound Recording 07] Oral history interview with Otto Skopil [Sound Recording 08] Oral history interview with Otto Skopil [Sound Recording 09] Oral history interview with Otto Skopil [Sound Recording 10] Oral history interview with Otto Skopil [Sound Recording 11] Oral history interview with Otto Skopil [Sound Recording 12] Oral history interview with Otto Skopil [Sound Recording 13] Oral history interview with Otto Skopil [Sound Recording 14] Oral history interview with Otto Skopil [Sound Recording 15] Oral history interview with Otto Skopil [Sound Recording 16] Oral history interview with Otto Skopil [Sound Recording 17] Oral history interview with Otto Skopil [Sound Recording 18] Oral history interview with Otto Skopil [Sound Recording 19] Oral history interview with Otto Skopil [Sound Recording 20] Oral history interview with Otto Skopil [Sound Recording 21] Oral history interview with Otto Skopil [Sound Recording 22] Oral history interview with Otto Skopil [Sound Recording 23] Oral history interview with Otto Skopil [Sound Recording 24] Oral history interview with Otto Skopil [Sound Recording 25] Oral history interview with Otto Skopil [Sound Recording 26] Oral history interview with Otto Skopil [Sound Recording 27]
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Identity elements

Reference code

SR 1225

Name and location of repository

Level of description

Series

Title

Oral history interview with Otto Skopil

Date(s)

  • 1985-08-19 - 1989-11-27 (Creation)

Extent

.1 cubic feet; 25 audiocassettes (22 hr., 8 min., 16 sec.) + index (91 pages)

Name of creator

(1919-2012)

Biographical history

Otto Richard Skopil was born in Portland, Oregon, in 1919. He met June Johnson while at Salem High School. They were married for 15 years, from 1940 to 1955. Skopil attended Willamette University, where he earned his bachelor of arts in economics in 1941. He enlisted in the Navy and served as a lieutenant during World War II. Afterward, he returned to Willamette and earned his bachelor of laws in 1946. Following his graduation from Willamette, he worked as a private-practice lawyer from 1946 to 1972. During his time as a trial lawyer, he hired Jan Lundy as a secretary, and they married in 1957. In 1972, he was appointed to the U.S. Circuit Court of Oregon in Portland by President Richard Nixon. Skopil served as chief judge of the Circuit Court from 1976 to 1979. He was then appointed to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit by President Jimmy Carter, serving from 1979 to 1986, when he took senior status. He died in 2012.

Content and structure elements

Scope and content

This oral history interview with Otto Skopil was conducted by Rick Harmon and Jim Strassmaier in Skopil's chambers at the Pioneer Courthouse in Portland, Oregon, from August 19, 1985, to November 27, 1989. The audio for this interview is incomplete; Tape 26 was discovered to be blank in 2020, but its contents are reflected in an incomplete transcript and in an index.

In the interview, Skopil discusses his family background and early life in Salem, Oregon, including his time at Salem High School and the effect of the Depression and the New Deal on the Salem area. Skopil talks about attending Willamette University in great detail. He discusses his World War II experience in the Navy from 1942 to 1945, between earning his bachelor's degree in economics and returning to Willamette earn his bachelor of laws. Skopil describes practicing law in Salem for 26 years, from 1946 to 1972, including partnering with his uncle, Ralph Skopil, and later with Bruce Williams. He discusses some of the cases he argued, particularly his only U.S. Supreme Court case, which involved State Farm Insurance. He then briefly discusses his personal life, including his two marriages, first to June Johnson, then to Jan Lundy, and his involvement in various religious and civic organizations, including the Board of Governors for the Oregon Bar. He also discusses his involvement with the Republican Party and his opposition to both the Korean and Vietnam wars, as well as how the draft affected his son, Ric Skopil. He talks about serving as a judge for the U.S. Circuit Court of Oregon, including his confirmation; the procedures of the court; sentencing; and the development of the magistrate system. He also discusses some of the cases he presided over on topics including the environment, white-collar crime, and securities. He talks at length about the case of Chuck Armsbury. He also discusses working with his fellow judges, particularly Gus Solomon and Robert Belloni, as well as his relationships with Mark Hatfield and Griffin Bell. Skopil then describes his time as a judge for the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, including the relationship between that court and Congress; the increase of litigation during the 1980s; and the public perception of the court. He discusses some of the cases that came before the court on topics including mental health, capital punishment, timber, and drugs. He also talks about some of his fellow judges, particularly Ted Goodwin and James Browning. Skopil closes the interview by describing the importance of law clerks; discussing sentencing guidelines; and talking about his family life.

System of arrangement

Conditions of access and use elements

Conditions governing access

Collection is open for research.

Physical access

Technical access

Conditions governing reproduction

Joint copyright 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: http://rightsstatements.org/vocab/InC-EDU/1.0/

Languages of the material

  • English

Scripts of the material

Language and script notes

Finding aids

Acquisition and appraisal elements

Custodial history

Immediate source of acquisition

Appraisal, destruction and scheduling information

Accruals

Related materials elements

Existence and location of originals

Existence and location of copies

Related archival materials

Oral history interviews with Otto Skopil, by Clark Hansen, SR 11151, Oregon Historical Society Research Library.

Related descriptions

Notes element

General note

Preferred citation: Oral history interview with Otto Skopil, by Rick Harmon and Jim Strassmaier, SR 1225, Oregon Historical Society Research Library.

General note

Forms part of the United States District Court Oral History Project.

General note

Incomplete transcript (314 pages) is available for in-person use in the Oregon Historical Society Research Library.

Specialized notes

Alternative identifier(s)

Description control element

Rules or conventions

Finding aid based on DACS (Describing Archives: A Content Standard), 2nd Edition.

Sources used

Archivist's note

Sarah Stroman

Access points

Place access points

Genre access points

Accession area