Author: adairl2014

Barnes H. Ellis “The role of a lawyer is to be a good citizen”

Lifetime Service Award 2018 

By Adair Law

The U.S. District Court of Oregon Historical Society is pleased to honor Barnes H. Ellis with its  Lifetime Service Award. This article is based on research, interviews, and conversations with Barnes and his colleagues. A briefer version of this article appears in the paper Oregon Benchmarks Fall 2018 Winter 2019.

Learning about the full, varied life of Barnes Ellis is like going to a large, happily provisioned picnic.  A big group of able cooks have filled several picnic tables to overflowing. Appetites are sharpened and curious for what will be served. A guest senses a certain enjoyment in the hard work that made the picnic happen. The hosts make sure all guests have a strong chance to get to the table. The bug bites, knocked-over glasses, and surprises are handled.  The affable company helps with the cleanup. There is a pervading sense of optimism and gusto for all of it.

Five-year-old Barnes at his grandmother’s home in Mississippi. He has just caught a rare spoon-billed catfish. Photos courtesy of Barnes Ellis.

 As the third of four children of Raymond W. Ellis and Eleanor Gwin Ellis, Barnes was born in 1940 and his negotiating skills may have started very early. Ray (1908-80) was born in Charles City, Iowa, the younger of two sons of a banker and tractor manufacturer father and a mother who played organ at the original little brown church in the vale popularized by the song “Church in the Wildwood.”  Eleanor Gwin (1912-79) was born in Greenwood, Mississippi, youngest of four daughters and one son.  Her father was a lawyer, her mother a homemaker and later a real estate developer, with a keen interest in planting large oak trees along the town’s beautiful boulevard. Ray and Eleanor met in 1930 when he was included in a group of Yale classmates her brother Sam brought for a visit to his Mississippi home.  Eleanor (or “Gwin” as she was known outside her family) was a 1933 graduate of Northwestern University in Illinois with a BS in psychology.  After Yale, Ray attended Harvard Law School, and practiced corporate law in Boston with the firm of Choate, Hall and Stewart.

During the early years of World War II, the family lived in Weston, Massachusetts. Ray commuted home on weekends from Navy officer training in Quonset, Rhode Island. He shipped out of San Diego to serve in the Pacific as an air combat intelligence officer on the staff of Adm. Felix Stump.   He played a significant role in the October 25, 1944 Battle off Samar Island. This was part of the epic Battle of Leyte Gulf,  a near-disaster for the U.S. Navy when a communications confusion left the San Bernardino Straits unguarded, allowing the Japanese Center Force under Adm. Takeo Kurita to pass through undetected. Anticipating that  possibility, during the night Ray recommended his small carrier force arm its planes with torpedoes and armor-piercing bombs that helped cause the Japanese to reverse course.  For their actions Ray was awarded the Bronze Star, and Admiral Stump was awarded the Navy Cross.

Sharing Our History through Social Media

By Michael Fuller

Our first tweet.

2018 marks the first year of the Oregon U.S. District Court Historical Society’s presence on social media. The first post from our Twitter account was re-tweeted and liked two dozen times by followers including Maxine Bernstein with The Oregonian, Amber Hollister with the Oregon State Bar, and the Oregon Chapter of the Federal Bar Association.

Consistent with the purpose of our society, our Twitter account serves to share the unique story of the U.S. District Court of Oregon with our followers through archived pictures and key dates in our history.

Our social media presence now allows us to announce and better promote our upcoming oral histories and portrait unveilings. We can also use our online accounts to make save-the-date posts for upcoming educational programming like our famous cases CLEs.

In June and July, we used our Twitter account to successfully promote our summer picnic celebrating the bankruptcy bench and bar. In November we tweeted a picture of Doris Kearns Goodwin with our 2018 Lifetime Service Award recipient Barnes H. Ellis.

Twitter’s social media platform allows us to thank the law firms that sponsor our events by including their Twitter handles in our posts, which results in additional likes and re-tweets.

Anyone interested in receiving our future tweets can find and follow us on Twitter at our handle: @USDCHS

Oregon Attorney General Moderates Famous Cases Panel

By Douglas Pahl

The most recent USDCHS Famous Cases presentation took place on June 28, 2018, graciously hosted by Perkins Coie LLP.

In 1908, the U.S. Supreme Court permitted legislation for the protection of women in the workplace.  An impressive panel, moderated by Oregon Attorney General Ellen Rosenblum, took on the Famous Case of Muller v. Oregon, 208 U.S. 412 (1908), in which the High Court upheld Oregon’s 1903 statute establishing a maximum 10-hour workday for women working in industrial laundries.

Professor Allison Gash, Attorney General Ellen Rosenblum, Professor David Horowitz, and Judge Jack Landau at the Famous Cases presentation on Muller v. Oregon.

Although limiting working hours for women was motivated by a desire to protect women, advocates for gender equity have regarded the statute and the Muller decision with disdain, as it has often been used as precedent to justify practices that undermined advancement of women, a viewpoint eloquently set forth by Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg in her 2009 article on the case that appeared in the Willamette Law Review (45 W.L.Rev. 359 (2009)Muller is also a Famous Case for generating the first so-called “Brandeis Brief.”  The State of Oregon hired Louis Brandeis to defend the Oregon statute.  In doing so, he presented a pioneering legal brief that relied more on scientific information than legal authority.

At the USDCHS Famous Cases presentation, a summer associate takes the opportunity to chat with the Attorney General of Oregon.

Attorney General Rosenblum, a founder of the Famous Cases program, moderated a June 2018 panel comprised of Prof. Allison Gash, a professor of political science at the University of Oregon; Prof. David Horowitz, a professor of history at Portland State University; and the Hon. Jack Landau, Oregon Supreme Court (retired).  Professor Gash described the legal precursors and context that led to the Muller decision and provided an overview of the case and its legacy.  Professor Horowitz put the case in the context of national and global political environment, including the populist movement in the decades leading up to the decision. Finally, Justice Landau discussed the Brandeis Brief and the hazards of using social science in judicial decision making, as well as other effects of the Muller decision.  Attorney General Rosenblum then engaged the panel in a lively discussion of the complex legacy of the Muller decision, taking numerous questions from the audience.

Oral History Update

By Joseph Carlisle

2018 proved to be a busy and productive year for the Oral History Committee.  We weathered the departure of long-time friend and oral historian Janice Dilg, engaged two up-and-coming oral historians, and began conducting three new oral histories.

Janice Dilg (right) with compatriots. They staged a historic debate for our 2011 annual meeting over whether Oregon men should extend the vote to women. Oregon women received the right to vote in 1912. Photo by Owen Schmidt.

Many of you are likely familiar with Jan Dilg.  For many years she has conducted numerous oral histories for the Society and she has been a familiar presence at the District Court Historical Society’s Annual Picnic and Annual Dinner.  For the last several years, Jan has been our primary oral historian, which is a testament to both her skills and to her dedication to our work.

Last fall, Jan decided that it was time to expand her horizons and to pursue a variety of other projects.  Unfortunately she determined she would be unable to continue her work for us and pursue other opportunities. We thank her for all she has done for the District Court Historical Society. She administered the program and also conducted oral histories with Oregon’s first U.S. Magistrate George Juba, former Chief Probation Officer David Looney, and U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Elizabeth Perris, to name just a few.  The transcripts are available on our website.

True to form, Jan did not leave us without oral history coverage. She introduced us to oral historians Makaela Kroin and Greta Smith. We engaged both of them in the spring and they have been working diligently on the oral histories of U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Frank R. Alley, U.S. Magistrate Judge Thomas M. Coffin and U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Randall L. Dunn.  It has been fun to receive reports from Kroin and Smith, respectively, reflecting what we already know – Judges Alley, Coffin and Dunn have a wealth of knowledge.  We also completed the transcripts for the oral histories of of U.S. Magistrate Judge Janice M. Stewart and Multnomah County Judge Kimberly C. Frankel, and deposited those at the Oregon Historical Society.

Finally, when the oral histories of Judges Alley, Coffin and Dunn are complete, we will embark on taking the oral histories of Judge Anna J. Brown and Magistrate Judge Paul J. Papak so their perspectives and insights will be preserved for all to share.  It has been a pleasure to serve the Society this year and the Oral History Committee looks forward to an equally productive 2019.

U.S. Magistrate Judge Mustafa T. Kasubhai: “The friend and mentor I needed”

By Gabriela Sanchez

Former Lane County Circuit Judge Kasubhai was appointed U.S. Magistrate Judge for the District of Oregon in September 2018.  Oregon Benchmarks is grateful to Ms. Sanchez for writing about her work and friendship with Judge Kasubhai.

After 15 years in practice and three firms, the framed Ansel Adams photos that Mustafa T. Kasubhai gave me still hang in my office at Lane Powell PC. They remind me how Mustafa helped shape me as a lawyer during my formative years.  His lessons have served me well.

US Magistrate Judge Mustafa Kasubhai, December 2018

I walked into the law offices of Mustafa T. Kasubhai looking for a job as a summer clerk in 2001. Back then, those Ansel Adams photos decorated the small lobby of the three-room office where Mustafa worked as a Workers’ Compensation and plaintiff’s attorney.

There were three of us: me, Mustafa, and his assistant, Helen. I was his first law clerk. When I started, he did not have an office ready for me. He cleaned out a room he was using for storage and had a large desk delivered. I still use that desk in my home office.

Mustafa taught me several lessons during that summer and through my second and third years of law school. One of the earliest was how to be fiscally responsible. He said I needed to pay myself first, learn to invest, and read Rich Dad, Poor Dad, which sat on the corner of his desk. We’re both children of immigrants. I think Mustafa recognized that immigrant parents do not always have these conversations with their children. I realized that Mustafa was going to be more than an employer and mentor. He would be my friend.

Mustafa was the David to the Goliaths of the world. He was a tireless advocate for his clients: creative, quick-witted, intelligent, and a skilled writer. He took on difficult cases for people of little means and gave them strong voices. His sense of fairness and equality made him a formidable opponent. No matter the odds, Mustafa would passionately advocate for his client. I’ve always admired that about him and I try to emulate it.

Some of my most memorable cases were from those days. For example, Mustafa once represented a florist who broke her tooth when she ate a piece of candy provided by her employer. In another case, a car salesman jumped on a bicycle someone else had brought, popped a wheelie, and eventually popped more than a wheelie. In both cases, Workers’ Compensation refused to cover the employees’ claims as coming within the scope of employment. As you can imagine, Mustafa took some ribbing from his colleagues for taking these cases. I don’t remember if he won, but he gave both of them everything he had. This taught me not to back down from a fight and to persevere for justice for every client no matter the result.

Outside of work, Mustafa was an avid cat lover and woodworker. He kindly adopted a couple of cats that somehow mysteriously appeared at his home after I house sat for him.  I’m not sure he’s forgiven me for that. I also do not understand why he never seems to age.

When Mustafa asked me to write him a letter in support of his appointment to the Lane County Circuit Court, I did not hesitate. I still cannot think of a better jurist. His sense of fairness and his ability to analyze complicated law, then apply it to the facts to create a fair and pragmatic ruling are his greatest qualities. Now I am even more excited and proud to see that he has been appointed as a U.S. Magistrate Judge.  The federal bench is better for it.

I have often said that Mustafa was the brother I never wanted. He’s better. He is the friend and mentor I needed.  I am truly grateful for his friendship.