By Hon. Stacie Beckerman
On October 21, 2016, a crowd gathered at the Wayne L. Morse U.S. Courthouse in Eugene to welcome U.S. Magistrate Judge Jolie A. Russo to the District of Oregon federal bench at her formal investiture ceremony. Paul Bruch, Judge Russo’s courtroom deputy, opened court, and Chief Judge Michael W. Mosman welcomed Judge Russo’s many friends, colleagues, and family members in attendance.
In honor of her contributions in mentoring law students and young lawyers, a distinguished group of lawyers whom Judge Russo has trained over the years spoke in her honor: David Higgs, Rachel Rose, and David Svelund. Following their kind remarks, Divisi, the University of Oregon’s a cappella choir, performed a beautiful arrangement of “Imagine” by John Lennon.
Danielle Hunsaker, a partner at Larkins Vacura Kayser LLP who has served with Judge Russo on the Federal Bar Association board of directors for several years, shared remarks about Judge Russo’s professionalism and friendship. Susan Pitchford, a partner at Chernoff Vilhauer LLP, assembled a group of lawyers from the federal bar who rose up from the audience and each handed Judge Russo a flower while reciting lyrics from Bob Dylan’s “Forever Young.”
Chief Judge Mosman administered the oath of office, and Judge Russo’s sons, Max and Nico, performed the robing honors, as Judge Russo’s partner, Lynn Barkley, beamed from the front row. Judge Russo shared inspiring remarks, honoring Magistrate Judge Thomas Coffin, whose seat on the bench she fills, and District Judge Ann Aiken, with whom Judge Russo worked for many years. Following the courtroom ceremony, guests celebrated Judge Russo at a lively courthouse reception.
Judge Russo was appointed to the federal bench on February 25, 2016, following 28 years of service to the U.S. District Court, first as a staff attorney to Judge James Redden, and later as a senior staff attorney to Judge Ann Aiken. Judge Russo has served as an adjunct law professor at the University of Oregon School of Law since 2004, and she has also served as an adjunct law professor at Lewis and Clark Law School. She is an active community volunteer and also serves her legal community on several boards, including the Federal Bar Association, Oregon Women Lawyers, and the Multnomah County Bar Association. She earned her JD from Lewis and Clark Law School.
Judge Russo is now part of a judicial line whose predecessors include Judge Michael Hogan, Eugene’s first U.S. Magistrate Judge (1973-91), who then went onto serve as a U.S. District Judge and Judge Thomas Coffin, who served in Eugene from 1992 until he changed to recall status in 2016. Judge Russo is the only non-recall U.S. Magistrate Judge serving in the Eugene courthouse. She sits alongside U.S. District Judges Ann Aiken and Michael McShane.
Judge Russo is the fourth woman to serve as a U.S. Magistrate Judge in the District of Oregon, following Magistrate Judges Janice Stewart, Patricia Sullivan, Stacie Beckerman, and Youlee Yim You.
She is just the seventh woman to serve on the U.S. District Court since 1859, following U.S. District Judges Helen Frye, Ann Aiken, and Anna J. Brown, in addition to the other U.S. Magistrate Judges. In addition, three women have served on the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the District of Oregon since 1978: Judges Polly S. Higdon, Elizabeth L. Perris, and current Chief Bankruptcy Judge Trish Brown. Judge Susan Graber is the only woman judge from Oregon who has served on the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals.
The U.S. District Court of Oregon Historical Society extends a warm welcome to Judge Russo.