The Hon. Edwin J. Peterson

Distinguished Jurist in Residence

  • LLB, University of Oregon
  • BS, University of Oregon

Faculty Profile

Employment History


  • Retired justice, Supreme Court of Oregon. Retired December 31, 1993
  • Distinguished Jurist in Residence, Willamette College of Law. Teaches Insurance Law and Pretrial Civil Litigation
  • Arbitrator, Mediator, pro tem judge


  • Associate Justice, Oregon Supreme Court (1979-1993); Chief Justice, Oregon Supreme Court (1983-1991). First elected Chief Justice in 1983; re-elected in 1989. (The Chief Justice is elected by the members of the Supreme Court.)
  • Tooze, Kerr, Peterson, Marshall & Shenker (1957-1979). Practiced law. Specialized in civil tort, insurance, and business litigation.)


  • LLB 1957 University of Oregon School of Law
  • BS 1951 University of Oregon School of Music


USAF, 1952-1954 First Lieutenant. Served as: Personnel Officer; Headquarters Squadron Commander; Air Police Squadron Commander.

Significant Events While Chief Justice

  • Coordinated transition of Oregon court system from 36 “separate” county courts to one integrated court system.
  • Reduced delay in Oregon trial and appellate courts.
  • Promulgated Uniform Trial Court Rules, 1984. Previously, each trial court had its own set of rules. Now, one set of trial court rules exists statewide.
  • Computerized courts. Before 1983, many court records were kept manually. Now Oregon trial courts have an integrated computerized case and fiscal management system.
  • Improved professionalism in legal profession. Instituted standing committees of civil plaintiff and defense lawyers, and prosecutors and criminal defense lawyers, who meet regularly, cooperate in reducing delay and in improving the dispute resolution process.
  • Instituted statewide arbitration programs.

Arbitration and Mediation Experience

  • Has both arbitration and mediation training and experience.
  • Mediation approach: Facilitative. Not confrontive.
  • Favor settlements that the parties reach without excessive outside pressure. Avoids expression of personal views unless it becomes clear that the parties will not be able to generate this option on their own.


  • “The Summons -- A Slippery Threshold,” 46 Oregon Law Review 188 (1967).
  • “Products Liability of Drug Manufacturers,” 16 Defense Law Journal 277 (1967).
  • “Bud Lent and Doc Campbell: Two Esteemed Justices of the Oregon Supreme Court,” 25 Willamette Law Review 243 (1989).
  • “A Lawyer’s Lawyer: John H Kottkamp,” 18 The Litigation Journal, No 3, pp22-24 (1999)
  • CLE Materials for the Oregon State Bar.

Public Service

  • Mentor, two Willamette University College of Law students (currently)
  • Leader, Academic Circle, Willamette University College of Law, 1995-1996, 1996-1997, 1997-1998, 1998-1999, 1999-2000, 2000-2001, 2001-2002, 2002-2003.
  • Oregon State Bar/Oregon State Bar Joint Bench/Bar Commission on Professionalism 1995-present; chair, 1995-1997
  • Member, Minority Student Affairs Committee, Willamette University College of Law 1995-present
  • Member, Oregon Supreme Court Committee on Access to Justice, 1997-2004
  • Member, Oregon Supreme Court Implementation Committee (to implement the recommendations of the Judicial Department Task Force on Racial/Ethnic Issues in the Judicial System), 1994-1996.
  • Chair, Judicial Department Task Force on Racial/Ethnic Issues in the Judicial System, May 1992-May 1994.
  • Member, Uniform Trial Court Rules Committee, 1994-1995
  • Board of Directors, Conference of Chief Justices 1985-88, 1989-91
  • Member, Federal Standing Committee on the Federal Rules of Practice and Procedure 1985-1991
  • President, Multnomah County Bar Association, 1972
  • Board of Governors, Oregon State Bar, 1973-76
  • Board of Bar Examiners, Oregon State Bar, 1964-67
  • Board of Directors, Professional Liability Fund, 1977-79
  • Board of Visitors, University of Oregon School of Law, 1976-89
  • Citizens School Committee ( Portland), 1963-66, Chair, 1965
  • Council of Bar Presidents, 1973
  • Chess Coach, Faye Wright Elementary School, 1991-1994
  • Board of Directors, Salem Public Library Foundation 1982-1985


  • Marion County Bar Association Professionalism Award, January 26, 2006
  • Racial Reconciliation Award presented by the Uniting to Understand Racism Foundation, September 20, 2005
  • First recipient of the Oregon State Bar Edwin J Peterson Professionalism Award, September 19, 2003
  • 2003 Public Interest Lawyer of the Year Award, presented by the Willamette University Public Interest Law Project, March 15, 2003
  • Legal Citizen of the Year Award, presented by the Classroom Law Project, Portland, Oregon, April 26, 2000
  • Willamette University College of Law Multicultural Law Students Association Award, January 2000
  • Lewis F Powell, Jr Award for Professionalism and Ethics (American Inns of Court National Award), at the Supreme Court of the United States, Washington, DC., October 24, 1998
  • American Inns of Court Professionalism Award for the Ninth Judicial Circuit of the United States, Santa Barbara, Calif., June 22, 1998
  • University of Oregon Outstanding Alumnus Award, June 1996
  • Judge Mercedes Diez Award for Outstanding Contributions in Promoting Minorities in the Legal Profession and in the Community, April 1996
  • Martin Luther King Drum Major Award, The Skanner, January 16, 1996
  • Oregon State Bar President’s Affirmative Action Award, September 1995
  • Distinguished Service Award, University of Oregon, June 1995
  • Honorary Alumnus Award, Northwestern College of Law at Lewis and Clark College, May 1995
  • Mentor of the Year, Willamette College of Law, March 1995
  • Distinguished Service Award, The Association of Oregon Black Lawyers, December 3, 1994
  • American Bar Association Certificate of Appreciation for contribution to Oregon Attorney Assistance Program August 1994
  • Marion County Bar Association Award, February 16, 1994
  • American Judicature Society Herbert Harley Award, 1992
  • Oregon State Bar Award of Merit, 1990
  • University of Oregon School of Law Meritorious Service Award, 1990
  • Oregon Women’s Political Caucus Good Guy Award, 1987
  • Oregon 4-H Alumni Recognition Award, 1989
Willamette University

Faculty Support

College of Law
245 Winter Street SE
Salem Oregon 97301 U.S.A.
(503) 370-6405

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