The Honorable Paul J. De Muniz was elected to the Oregon Supreme Court in 2000 and served as chief justice and administrative head of the Oregon Judicial Branch from January 2006 to May 2012. He retired from the court in December 2012. Between 1990 and 2000, he sat on the Oregon Court of Appeals and served as a presiding judge. Before ascending to the bench, De Muniz was in private practice for 13 years with the Salem, Ore., law firm of Garrett, Seideman, Hemann, Robertson and De Muniz P.C., where he specialized in complex criminal and civil litigation, and appeals. From 1975 to 1977, he was a deputy public defender for the State of Oregon.
In addition to his work within Oregon, he also was a member of the Conference of Chief Justices and was elected to its board of directors in 2008. He has served on the boards of the National Judicial College, the National Crime Victim Law Institute, and the Institute for The Advancement of the American Legal System.
In 2011 De Muniz completed a three-year term as a member of the Harvard Kennedy School’s Executive Session for State Court Leaders in the 21st Century. That same year, De Muniz was inducted into the National Center for State Courts’ Warren E. Burger Society in recognition of his commitment to improving the administration of justice within the states.
In 2013 De Muniz founded a legal clinic dedicated to providing legal assistance to previously incarcerated individuals re-entering the Salem/Marion County community.
During his judicial career, De Muniz spoke frequently to both national and international audiences on the importance of maintaining independent state judiciaries, improving state court administration and the need for adequate state court funding. He has served as the 2009 Justice Robert H. Jackson Lecturer for the National Judicial College. In 2010, he addressed judicial leaders from 55 countries at the Asian Pacific Courts Conference in Singapore, on the importance of judicial branch strategic planning. Later that year, De Muniz gave the 17th annual Justice William Brennan Lecture on State Courts and Social Justice at New York University Law School, discussing the need for reengineering state court operations. In 2013 De Muniz addressed the National Academy of Sciences in Washington, D.C. on the subject of evaluating eyewitness identification evidence in court.
In addition to his many law review articles on the courts and the legal profession, De Muniz authored A Practical Guide to Oregon Criminal Procedure and Practice, a reference book used by lawyers and judges throughout Oregon, and recently, co-authored American Judicial Power: The State Court Perspective, a legal treatise emphasizing the importance of America’s state courts.
In 2002 De Muniz founded a rule-of-law partnership with judicial leaders in the Russian Far East, working with lawyers and judges in Russia to implement reforms within the Russian criminal justice system. His work in Russia inspired his first novel The Debt: An American Lawyer Fights for Justice in Russia.
De Muniz’s work has been recognized with a number of state and national awards, among them: the National Judicial College’s 2009 Distinguished Service Award, the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers’ Judicial Recognition Award, the Oregon Area Jewish Committee’s 2010 Judge Learned Hand Lifetime Achievement Award, the Oregon Hispanic Bar Association’s Paul J. De Muniz Professionalism Award, the Edwin J. Peterson Racial Reconciliation Award, the Oregon Criminal Defense Lawyers’ Association Ken Morrow Lifetime Achievement Award, the Marion County Bar’s Paul De Muniz Professionalism Award, the Oregon Classroom Law Project’s 2011 Legal Citizen of the Year Award, the Campaign For Equal Justice 2012 Public Access to Justice Award, and the 2013 Oregon State Bar Judicial Excellence Award.
He was raised by his mother in Portland, Ore., and attended Portland’s public schools. After finishing high school, he enlisted in the U.S. Air Force and served a one-year tour of duty in Vietnam. Following his discharge from military service, he received his bachelor of science degree from Portland State University in 1972 and his Juris Doctor from Willamette University College of Law in 1975. In 2012, Willamette University awarded De Muniz the honorary degree of Doctor of Laws. In 2016, he was awarded an honorary Doctor of Humane Letters from Portland State University. De Muniz and his wife, Mary, reside in Salem, Ore., and have three grown children and six grandchildren.
- JD, Willamette University, 1975
- BA, Portland State University, 1972