Name and location of repository
Level of description
Oral history interview with James A. Redden
- 1994-11-30 - 2002-01-14 (Creation)
.1 cubic feet; 27 audiocassttes (23 hr., 4 min., 10 sec.)
Name of creator
James "Jim" Anthony Redden was born in 1929 and grew up in Massachusetts. In 1946, while he was in high school, he enlisted in the U.S. Army, serving two years as a medic stationed in Japan, where he saw firsthand the effects of the bombing of Hiroshima. In 1951, he married Joan Johnson. After earning a high school diploma, he attended Boston College and Boston College Law School, where he graduated with a law degree in 1954. He practiced law in Massachusetts for a year, then came to Portland, Oregon, where he worked for various insurance companies before moving to Medford, Oregon, to build his own law firm. He was a Democrat who represented the 19th District in the Oregon House of Representatives from 1962 to 1969, serving as minority leader from 1967 to 1969. From 1970 to 1972, he was chairman of the Public Employee Relations Board. From 1973 to 1976, he was state treasurer, and then attorney general from 1977 to 1980, before he was appointed to the U.S. District Court by President Jimmy Carter in 1980. He served as chief justice from 1990 to 1995, whereupon he took senior status.
Content and structure elements
Scope and content
This oral history interview with James A. Redden was conducted by Michael O'Rourke in Redden's chambers at the U.S. District courthouse in Portland, Oregon, from November 30, 1994, to January 14, 2002. The audio is incomplete; Tape 27 is missing as of 2015.
In this interview, Redden discusses his family background and early life in Massachusetts, including his memories of the Depression. He then talks about his Army service in the Pacific theater during World War II. He discusses his college experience at the Boston University College of Business Administration and the Boston College Law School, including his social life, his professors, and the evolution of his political views. He also talks about his marriage to Joan Johnson; his jobs after law school; and relocating to Oregon. He discusses practicing law in Medford, including some of the cases he tried and judges he argued before. He then talks about his involvement with the Democratic Party, including serving as central committee chair and his involvement in Oregon campaigns, particularly the 1960 Democratic presidential primary.
Redden discusses serving in the Oregon House of Representatives from 1962 to 1969. He describes each legislative session, including his campaigns; legislation that came up, including on pollution, insurance, electrical utilities, and taxes; and his fellow legislators, including Clarence Barton, Monte Montgomery, and Berkeley Lent. He also talks about balancing his legislative duties with his law practice and family life; working with lobbyists; and national politics contemporary to the interview in 1995. He also talks about the passage of the Beach Bill in 1967; his experience as a delegate to the 1968 Democratic National Convention in Chicago, Illinois; and his 1972 campaign for Oregon treasurer. He discusses serving as state treasurer from 1972 to 1976, including his duties and accomplishments. He then discusses serving as Oregon attorney general from 1977 to 1980, including his campaign and cases he prosecuted, particularly on Native American fishing rights.
Redden discusses serving as a judge on the U.S. District Court of Oregon from 1980 to 1995. He describes his appointment by President Jimmy Carter. He talks about his fellow judges, including Helen Frye and Owen Panner; the procedures of the court, particularly scheduling and the role of magistrate judges; and lawyers that argued before him. He discusses the selection and role of juries in federal court, as well as the increasing politicization of judicial appointments. He speaks at length about his role in and the background of The United States v. Loudhawk and the American Indian Movement. He closes the interview by discussing cases he heard regarding the Wild and Scenic Rivers Act in the late 1990s, and talking about his children, their careers, and their families.
System of arrangement
Conditions of access and use elements
Conditions governing access
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 - http://rightsstatements.org/vocab/InC-EDU/1.0/
Conditions governing reproduction
Languages of the material
Scripts of the material
Language and script notes
Acquisition and appraisal elements
Immediate source of acquisition
Appraisal, destruction and scheduling information
Related materials elements
Existence and location of originals
Existence and location of copies
Related archival materials
Oral history interview with James A. Redden, by Michael O'Rourke, SR 11149, Oregon Historical Society Research Library.
Preferred citation: Oral history interview with James A. Redden, by Michael O'Rourke, SR 1245, Oregon Historical Society Research Library.
Forms part of the United States District Court Oral History Project.
Incomplete transcript (516 pages) is available for in-person use at the Oregon Historical Society Research Library.
Description control element
Rules or conventions
Finding aid based on DACS (Describing Archives: A Content Standard), 2nd Edition.
Subject access points
Place access points
Name access points
- O'Rourke, Michael (Filmmaker) (Contributor)
- American Indian Movement (Subject)
- Democratic Party (Or.) (Subject)
- Oregon. Legislative Assembly (Subject)
- United States. District Court (Oregon) (Subject)