By Jeanne Sinnott
The investiture of our newest bankruptcy judge for the District of Oregon, Judge David W. Hercher, took place on March 24, 2017, at the Mark O. Hatfield U.S. Courthouse in Portland. Judge Hercher fills the Portland position previously held by Judge Randall L. Dunn. The Clerk of the Court, Charlene M. Hiss, opened the program. Judge Edward Leavy then gave the remarks from the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, and emphasized that bankruptcy judges are chosen on merit, commenting that they are often happy judges who have actually worked in their field. Chief Judge Michael Mosman, then gave comments from the District Court, joking that it was nice to hear an appellate judge talk about the “real world.”
Judge Hercher’s close personal friend Herb Grey, a lawyer who has known Judge Hercher since second grade, made remarks emphasizing Judge Hercher’s integrity and noted that they were both on the same debate team in high school. Judge Hercher’s former law partner Teresa H. Pearson noted that Judge Hercher is interested in “everything,” even the most arcane legal issues and said that Judge Hercher was a great law partner. Other former law partners Geoff Groshong and Mary Ann Frantz honored Judge Hercher in song, playing the first movement of Handel’s Sonata No. 2, with Mr. Groshong on oboe, and Mary Ann Frantz on keyboard. Debtor-Creditor Section Chair Clark Balcom gave remarks regarding Judge Hercher’s service to the section, and pointed out that Judge Hercher specifically asked him not to talk about Judge Hercher, but rather praise the section and all of its great works. Finally, Judge Hercher’s wife Alicia Hercher, a boisterous criminal defense lawyer, joked that “he is not a saint, people!” but noted that he is “fair, smart, and true,” and was a great mentor to her as she started her second career as a lawyer.
Chief Bankruptcy Judge Trish M. Brown then administered the oath of office. Before administering the oath, she noted that Judge Hercher is the 16th person to serve as bankruptcy judge in Oregon, and that the first judge was appointed in 1936. Judge Brown then discussed the history of judicial oaths, noting that initially there was some opposition to oaths of office. For example, Judge Brown noted, “in March 1787, Noah Webster wrote in opposition to oaths that had been used in Europe to assure loyalty to bad governments.” Nevertheless, she explained, the drafters of the Constitution required them. She said that in Joseph Story’s 1833 Commentaries on the Constitution of the United States, he explained that an oath “results from the plain right of society to require some guaranty from every officer, that he will be conscientious in the discharge of his duty.” With that interesting historical explanation, Judge Brown then administered the oath, and Judge Brown and Alicia helped Judge Hercher with his judicial robe. Finally, Judge Hercher spoke and expressed his many thanks to his family, colleagues, and friends, and sang the praises of the bankruptcy bar in Oregon. After the closing, attendees adjourned to a reception in the ground floor of the courthouse.