Jeffrey M. Batchelor: From “Tough” to “Batchelor is BACK”
By Adair Law
The U.S. District Court of Oregon Historical Society is pleased to honor Jeff Batchelor with a Lifetime Service Award for 2017. This article is based on research and conversations with Jeff, family members, and his colleagues.
Like many transplants to Oregon, the Batchelor family became established in the state through a search for stable work. Lehi, Utah natives Mack Batchelor (1914-2003) and Wilmirth (Willie) Russon (1911-98) made their home in Portland in 1942. Married in 1933, Mack left school before graduating and Willie was a high school graduate. They had three sons, DeMar (1935), Nolan (1939), and Brian (1941-42). Mack was a miner in Provo when he decided to look for work in Portland. He got a job as a welder in 1941 in the booming shipyards. Willie Batchelor and her two young sons left their extended Utah family and joined Mack in Portland after the death of the youngest child, Brian. Jeffrey M. Batchelor was born in 1946 and his sister Nancy arrived in 1951.
As work in the shipyards wound down with the end of World War II, Mack got a job as a delivery driver and later as a commercial paint salesman. His work as a salesman kept him traveling most of the week. Jeff’s brother DeMar, who was 11 years his senior, became a second father to him during Mack’s time away. DeMar—who nicknamed Jeff “Tough” —was a strong baseball and basketball player for the Washington High School Colonials. He played semi-pro ball the summer before he started his college and later law education at Stanford. Family photos show a preschool age Jeff on roller skates or standing comfortably atop a fence. The childhood photos seem to foretell a man who will develop a strong sense of balance while pushing his own physical boundaries. Years later, both DeMar (2008) and Jeff (2009) would be inducted into the Portland Interscholastic League Hall of Fame.
“You could do this in college”
The Batchelor family bought a home on NE 79th Ave. between Glisan and Halsey in 1944. Young Jeff’s childhood included playing Little League baseball on the thriving Montavilla team, attending services and activities at the Columbia Stake of what became the Rocky Butte Ward of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, and playing with kids in the neighborhood. He was introduced to the sport of wrestling in the eighth grade while horsing around with an older neighborhood boy who was impressed with Jeff’s moves. He told him “You could do this in college.”
Jeff attended high school at the freshly built (1959) Madison High School. He represented the Madison Senators in football as a running back and an outside linebacker. He and future Oregon Supreme Court Chief Justice Paul De Muniz (one grade behind Jeff) played on the same team. In November 2017, Justice De Muniz recalled “The first time I underestimated Jeff was on the football field. I was on the ground, and he was stepping over me.” Batchelor described himself as having had a decent football career for a player of his size. Yet it was truly wrestling that had the stronger and lasting impact. His work and accomplishments in the sport instilled a mental and physical toughness that served him throughout his life. During his high school years he wrestled at weights between 115 and 130 lbs. In 1963 he was the state Amateur Athletic Union freestyle wrestling title, and fourth in the Oregon State Athletic Association tournament. In 1964 he was the state AAU freestyle champ and the OSAA wrestling champ.
In Portland, AAU wrestling was centered at the Multnomah Athletic Club under the watchful eye of Cyril Mitchell, who not only trained Olympic wrestling champions but also served as an Olympic judge. Batchelor recalls “Cyril selected ‘poor’ kids from the city’s high schools to come wrestle on Thursday nights at the MAC.” Many paths started on the wrestling mats at the MAC, but perhaps most importantly Jeff found a path that led him to his future wife. Luci Henjyoji was the youngest daughter in a family of four sons and two daughters. Three of her four brothers (Howard, Rich, and Grant) wrestled for Cleveland High School. Their skill came to the attention of Cyril Mitchell, and through AAU wrestling in Portland, Luci came to the attention of Jeff Batchelor.
The Henyojis of Portland
Luci’s father Wataru Kimura was born in Kumamoto, Japan in 1908. He began formal Buddhist training in 1928 in Koyasan, the headquarters of Shingon Buddhism. He was given the religious name of Gikan Kimura. Reverend Kimura graduated from Koyasan College in 1936, where he was student body president and founder of an English language society. He immigrated to California where he established temples in Stockton, San Francisco, Sacramento, and San Jose. He would go on to form temples in Portland, Seattle and Vancouver, B.C. Reverend Kimura was active in assisting young Buddhist congregations in the Northwest as a sort of circuit rider priest for the Shingon Buddhist community. While continuing his English language studies in the United States, he taught Japanese language classes and ikebana flower arranging (Saga school). He married Sapporo-born Kazuko (Wako) Homma in Japan in 1939 and she later joined him in the United States in Portland. Reverend Kimura organized the Koyasan temple at 1436 NE Second Avenue and in November 1940, the Oregonian noted that he was part of a welcoming delegation for Vice-Archbishop Jisho Matsuhashi, who was visiting West Coast temples.
After President Franklin Roosevelt signed Executive Order 9066 on February 19, 1942, the Kimura family and their children Yoshimasa (later Edward) and Mitsuko (later Florence) were incarcerated at the Minidoka prison camp in Idaho. Luci’s brothers Hiroaki (later Grant) and Shinjo (later Howard) were born during the family’s internment. The family returned to Portland in October 1945 and Reverend Kimura reestablished his congregation on NE Multnomah Street. Two more children joined the family, Luci (1946) and Rich (1947).
The site of the reestablished congregation burned in April 1950, causing $4000 damage. The Oregonian reported in June 1951, “Portland’s Japanese Buddhists of the Khoyasan Henjyoji temple have acquired a new church home” at SE 12th Avenue and Clinton Street, a former Lutheran church. The article noted that in 1948 and 1949 Reverend Kimura was in charge of Buddhist burial ceremonies for members of the 442nd Infantry Regiment, a regiment composed primarily of American soldiers of Japanese ancestry, and the most decorated unit for its size and length of service in the history of American warfare.
The Buddhist Daihonzan Henjyoji Temple was the name of their new faith home. The family moved into the house next door and became part of the Inner Southeast Portland neighborhood. In 1952, Luci’s parents and other community members started the Nippon Cultural Academy. In 1958, the members of the Kimura family all became Henjyojis when Shingon leaders in Koyasan bestowed the name on Reverend Kimura, who now became Bishop Daiyu Henjyoji. In 1960 Bishop Henjyoji was appointed to head the Jobodai-in Temple in Koyasan, Japan. He began dividing his time between Japan and the United States. His wife Wako later became a reverend as well. Both Henjyoji parents worked to provide a deeper understanding of Japanese culture, particularly through their work over decades in sharing spiritual-cultural aspects of the Saga school of ikebana. Their cultural offerings to the city helped to inspire interest in the creation of Portland’s Japanese Garden.
“We look to see great deeds”
Jeff and Luci began dating in 1962. Along with his sports commitments, Jeff also wrote a column, “Batchelor’s Baloney” for the Madison High School newspaper, the Constitution. He won an award for courteousness. The 1964 school yearbook, the Federalist, noted that his senior year was a good one: “Jeff Batchelor was the standout of the [wrestling] team all season. He completed the season undefeated and placed first in the State tournaments. Later he went on to compete in the pre-Olympic trials at Oregon State University. He won two and lost two, which eliminated him from the trials. The two he lost were to national champions Ron Finley and Lee Allen, who were both previous members of the U.S. Olympic team. Jeff has also received many athletic scholarships all up and down the Pacific Coast, and we look to see great deeds in his collegiate years.”
Batchelor chose a wrestling scholarship to Oklahoma State University at Stillwater. He didn’t care for the school but he liked their style of wrestling. When a national champion from the Oklahoma State team was asked to develop the wrestling program at Brigham Young University, he recruited Batchelor to the young team. His parents were thrilled that he was going to BYU.
Batchelor fully expected to make a career coaching high school or collegiate wrestling. He wanted to be an English major but the foreign language requirement was a stumbling block. He chose a psychology major and an English minor. In 1968 he won the Western Athletic Conference for his weight, 130 lbs. In 1969 during his senior year, he hurt his neck and didn’t wrestle a match. This had a tremendous impact on his ongoing desire to wrestle. Batchelor graduated that year, not knowing what he wanted to do. Following his brother DeMar’s example, he took the LSAT. He did poorly on it. He applied to Stanford (they declined) and to Willamette Law School. They asked him to retake the LSAT. He declined. Yet Willamette welcomed him when he arrived to take classes.
The year 1969 was one of changed futures and new beginnings. Luci’s brother Grant was killed in Vietnam in March. The funeral was held at the Daihonzan Henjyoji Temple. For years, Jeff and Luci had wanted to get married and to have Luci’s father Bishop Henjyoji perform the ceremony, but they had had difficulty finding the right time on his schedule. They were married at the temple by Bishop Henjyoji on September 13, 1969, two weeks after Jeff started at Willamette.
Jeff and Luci had a commuter marriage during their early years. After graduating from Cleveland High School, Luci pursued studies at Portland State University and the University of Washington, then studied in Tokyo. She started work as a stewardess in 1967 with Pan Am. To get to her base airport in Honolulu, she flew from Portland to Seattle and then Hawaii. From Hawaii, she regularly flew to Tokyo, Hong Kong, Bangkok, and Auckland. Jeff kept himself busy with his studies, serving as editor of the law review, graduating among the top 10 of his class and cum laude. He also made many lifelong friendships with his classmates, including Bill Barton and Frank Moscato.
“Here is a person of many parts”
Batchelor’s first job as a lawyer was with a small Portland insurance defense firm, Gearin, Landis & Aebi. He started in September 1972 and he recalled that when he took that first job, Luci was contributing more money to the family coffers than he was, $1,100 a month compared to his $825. That changed when Luci became pregnant and was no longer allowed to work as a stewardess. Their son Phil was born in 1972, with sons David and Jon following in 1974 and 1977.
Batchelor fondly remembers Dave Landis as his first mentor in the law. He recalls, “Early on, I went into Dave’s office with a question about a project he had assigned me. After a question or two from me, Dave had a question for me: ‘Batchelor, have you read the statute?’ I confessed that I had not. Dave told me to come back after I had read the statute.” It was through Dave Landis that he became involved in bar activities. At that time lawyers on the Continuing Legal Education Committee played a major role in legal education. Batchelor was honored to be asked to join in 1977. “When I finished my CLE term in 1978, Dave encouraged me to put my name in for the Board of Bar Examiners. Serving on the CLE Committee and the Board of Bar Examiners not only introduced me to several lifelong friends, but it also had a lot to do with the course of my career.”
As with many young lawyers, Batchelor did all the work that came his way, including appellate work. He describes himself as “a solitary person with an analytic mind who likes writing and research.” He found that he liked appellate work and decided he wanted to work among the best. He took a job with the firm now known as Lane Powell in 1980. Wayne Hillard and Jim Clarke were firm partners. “Jim was my boss, but he rarely offered advice. Rather, Jim taught me how to write by marking up everything and anything I wrote. Jim, a Rhodes Scholar, was a wonderfully gifted writer. I learned a great deal from him simply by reading his work.” The firm tried a lot of cases which generated lots of appeals. Thinking back on that time, Batchelor recalls, “I hoped to build my reputation by walking in his shadow—but not forever. Jim was the best.” It was through the urging of Wayne Hillard that he became involved in the US District Court of Oregon Historical Society.
An important early case for Batchelor was Hall v. May Department Stores Co., 292 Or. 131 (1981), the leading case in Oregon addressing the intent element of the wrongful discharge tort at that time. He continued his busy practice and he also made time to conduct day-long appellate CLE programs for the Oregon Law Institute every other year, lining up the speakers and pulling together the needed materials. This helped him to get to know a range of judges who were generous with their time.
Batchelor got to know Portland attorney Norm Sepenuk (2013 LSA recipient) in the mid-1980s during the cascade of cases that came out of the collapse of the Columbia Pacific Bank and Trust Company in March 1983—at the time said to be the largest bank failure in Oregon. The two men met sitting in the back row of a conference room, both working to maintain their focus while listening to “a gazillion” depositions. Sepenuk recalled that as the depositions unspooled, Batchelor “quietly kept up a commentary of shocking vulgarity. At the time I thought to myself, ‘Here is a person of many parts.’” After over three decades of friendship, Sepenuk described his friend as “A dear man who always keeps you off balance.”
Expansion and Contraction
The youngest Batchelor son started middle school and Luci Batchelor went back to work as a flight attendant, now with Delta Airlines. When Jim Damis, a pioneer of Oregon arbitration and 1985 founder of Arbitration Service of Portland, asked him to join the ASP panel, Jeff expanded his skill set. In 1986 he began working as an arbitrator. He was active on the Multnomah Bar Association CLE Committee and on the Oregon Rules of Appellate Procedure Committee.
The extended Batchelor family went through a heartrending six years beginning in 1985. Jeff’s older brother Nolan died by suicide after learning he had contracted AIDS. On March 2, 1988, just after he turned 42, Jeff learned that a lump on his back near his armpit was in fact a sarcoma, a connective tissue cancer. Remembering that time, he said evenly, “Five years earlier with that diagnosis I would have lost my left arm and part of my back.” He was able to avoid amputation with a new treatment protocol and the cancer healed. In 1991, Jeff’s eldest brother DeMar Batchelor, a well-known and respected land-use attorney, was struck down by a heart attack at the age of 55. Jeff had been especially close to DeMar and the loss was an immense shock. Now he and his sister Nancy are the remaining siblings of their family. Interested and influenced by her older brothers’ entrances into the world of law, Nancy enjoyed a long career as a paralegal in Portland before retiring in 2016.
Through it all, Batchelor continued to approach his work with zeal and intelligence. In 1991, he was asked to become a member of the American Academy of Appellate Lawyers. He became a board member of the USDCHS in 1993. His friendship with Norm Sepenuk, who was close in age to his brother DeMar, continued to grow. The USDCHS oral history program has collected oral histories of the judges, lawyers, and lay persons who have played a significant role in Oregon legal history since 1988. In March 1993, Batchelor began his interview of Sepenuk and created one of the gems and great teaching tools of the Society’s oral history collection. Speaking of Batchelor’s oral history of Sepenuk, long-time USDCHS oral historian Jan Dilg notes, “Jeff asked insightful questions, listened carefully, asked important follow-up questions, and remained silent when Norm needed to collect his thoughts or formulate his answers. Each of those elements is fundamental to a good oral history.”
The genius of “I did what I was told”
Through much of the 1990s, Batchelor made balancing a wide range of commitments look simple. He worked as an Oregon Circuit Court Judge Pro Tempore for Multnomah County, 1993-99 and started a decade of work with the Oregon State Bar Appellate Practice Section. He became a Master of the Owen M. Panner American Inn of Court in 1994. Known for his arbitration work, in 1995 he was “voluntold” by Chief Judge William Richardson of the Oregon Court of Appeals that he would be working as a mediator for the Oregon Court of Appeals Settlement Conference Program. It took Jeff a while to get comfortable with mediation work. “Almost everything in mediation is spontaneous, in contrast to practice in appellate court where every oral argument is planned in the quiet of your office. In addition, because I am shy by nature, I was not comfortable with strangers, even in a mediation setting.” He observed his teacher Rich Birke, and in his words “I did what I was told” and grew more comfortable and adept with the process of mediation. In his early practice, he described himself as “a second-string mediator who was eventually able to work his way onto the first string.”
His appellate work continued apace. Batchelor’s work on McGanty v. Staudenraus, 321 Or. 532 (1995) resulted, according to the May 2008 Multnomah Lawyer, “in the refinement of three torts under Oregon law: intentional interference with economic relations, intentional infliction of severe emotional distress and wrongful discharge.”
Batchelor became president of the USDCHS in 1997. The society did some regrouping that year and in spring 1998 came out with a new design for the newsletter Oregon Benchmarks, with a front page article on the November 1997 completion of the Mark O. Hatfield Courthouse. In his President’s Message, he made a point of laying out plans for future events, including the Annual Picnic. Batchelor was not the instigator of the Annual Picnic, but he was a board member in the early years when the picnic found its legs as a tradition. Early picnics were held at the grade school on Sauvie Island before Judge Owen Panner and his wife Nancy offered the use of their ranch. Batchelor carries a memory of the Sauvie Island days when he, Luci and the judge were cleaning up the picnic grounds. “Federal Judges do not do this,” Batchelor recalls thinking, as Judge Panner reached, armpit deep, into a trash can to remove the garbage, a requirement under the society’s picnic contract. Batchelor came away from that day with a new and deeper respect for Judge Panner.
With Portland 76 Auto/Truck Plaza, Inc. v. Union Oil Company of California, 153 F.3d 938 (9th Cir. 1998), Batchelor secured the reversal of a $7,000,000 judgment on a price discrimination claim under the Robinson-Patman Act. At the end of that same year, he left Lane Powell after 18 years to practice appellate law and alternative dispute resolution on his own. His Willamette Law School classmate Frank Moscato leased a corner office to him in the Bank of California Tower. Batchelor enjoyed being his own boss and frequently told friends that he would never be partners with anyone ever again. In 1999 he began a decade of work as a facilitator with the Understanding Racism Foundation. In his final President’s message in the summer 1999 Oregon Benchmarks, Batchelor spoke of a recent event at Pioneer Courthouse where members of the bench and the bar gathered. He noted, “It’s always easier to appear before a judge you know socially” and added that the recent event provided the opportunity to get to know 12 state and federal judges. He had a knack for pointing out the benefits of membership.
The office lease ended in 2000 and soon Batchelor and Moscato were looking for new space. Batchelor asked David Markowitz if he could rent office space from the firm Markowitz Herbold Glade & Mehlhaf. The Markowitz firm was not interested in leasing space to him, but they did want Batchelor as a partner. In September 2000, he moved in as “of counsel” and in 2001 he became a partner, much to the ribbing delight of several of his friends who had heard his earlier opposite avowals. He developed a close friendship with Bill Mehlhaf until his death from pancreatic cancer in 2012.
The Batchelor family sons grew into manhood. Phil and David graduated from University of Oregon (Phil with an MBA) and built lives in Portland. In 1996, 17-year-old Jon Batchelor spoke to a Marine recruiter and was interested in joining the armed forces. Through a job at a local golf club, Jon had forged a friendship with Judge Owen Panner, an avid golfer and a veteran of World War II. Jeff was opposed to his son joining the Marines, but suggested that he “Talk to Panner” to get the benefit of the older man’s experience. Judge Panner talked with him and Jon enlisted in the Marines. When Jeff spoke with Judge Panner about his advice, the judge said simply, “His path is not your path.” Jon served in Bahrain and Camp Lejeune in his early years with the Marines and deployed with the 26th Marine Expeditionary Unit conducting operations in Kosovo. Luci Batchelor continued her work with Delta Airlines and was back on flights as soon as allowed after the terrorist acts of the September 11, 2001 attack. She retired in 2003. In 2005, Jon served in Anbar province in Iraq as a machine gunner. Violence had escalated sharply and his company suffered many casualties. For Jeff, the seven months of that portion of his son’s service “were, and still are, the most difficult days of my entire life, more difficult even than the days that followed DeMar’s death.” In 2008, Batchelor experienced the accomplishment of finishing the Marine Corps Marathon with Jon.
In the 2000s, Batchelor worked on two of his most personally fulfilling appellate cases. These came to him through his Willamette Law School friend, Bill Barton, who secured both of the significant verdicts. Shin v. Sunriver Preparatory School, Inc., 199 Or. App. 352 (2005), secured the affirmance of a $2,229,000 judgment based on a preparatory school’s negligent failure to protect its student, and for negligent infliction of emotional distress, during the student’s enrollment at the school. In Goddard v. Farmers Ins. Co. of Oregon, 344 Or. 232 (2008) Jeff represented the plaintiff in this case in which the Oregon Supreme Court addressed the constitutionality of the jury’s punitive damages verdict.
“Compassion for Others”
As Batchelor entered his 60s, honors and awards for his work started piling up. From 2006 to the present he has been listed as an Oregon Super Lawyer for appellate work and for ADR. In 2008 he received the Multnomah Bar Association Professionalism award. A supporter of that nomination wrote, “I believe the exemplary trait of character that has motivated and governed Jeff’s conduct in the practice of law has been his compassion for others. Time and again, over the years … Jeff has acted, or refused to act, in situations where other lawyers would have been tempted to do otherwise.” In 2012, Batchelor formed Batchelor Mediation and Arbitration. He has received numerous awards from Best Lawyers, including Portland Alternative Dispute Resolution Lawyer of the Year in 2010 and 2013, Portland Arbitrator of the Year for 2017 and Portland Mediator for the Year in 2018.
A painful and seemingly unhealing wound on his upper back consumed a great deal of Batchelor’s vitality in 2017. Yet with understated aplomb, he ran an ad in the November 2017 Oregon State Bar Bulletin. The ad shows his smiling face with the title “Bachelor is BACK.” The ad states “I was away for ten months. To all who supported me with words of encouragement, with expressions of concern, support, hope and much, much more, please accept my heartfelt thanks. I am grateful beyond words to a team of OHSU plastic surgeons of prodigious skill led by Juliana Hansen. Thank you, Dr. Hansen.”
When Batchelor wrote his final President’s Message for Oregon Benchmarks, he noted that his involvement with the organization started when the attorney Don Willner “bought me a cup of coffee and asked me to do a little work on membership.” Jeff Batchelor, the USDCHS is deeply grateful for your contributions to our extended community, and to have a friend and colleague like you on the journey.