SAN FRANCISCO – District Judge Anna J. Brown of the United States District Court for the District of Oregon has been named the 2017 recipient of the American Inns of Court’s prestigious Ninth Circuit Professionalism Award. Judge Brown will receive the award on July 17, 2017, during the opening session of the Ninth Circuit Judicial Conference in San Francisco.
A trial judge in the federal and state courts of Oregon for more than 25 years, Judge Brown is highly respected both by her fellow judges and the lawyers who have practiced in her court. She was nominated by current and former judicial colleagues, who pointed to her consummate case management skills, willingness to share her knowledge and experience, and mentorship of women entering the legal profession.
Nominated by President Clinton, Judge Brown came onto the federal bench in 1999 and maintains chambers in Portland. She was previously a judge of the Multnomah County (Oregon) Circuit Court, from 1994 to 1999, and District Court, from 1992 to 1994. During her judicial career, she has presided over the full range of civil and criminal matters. Those include Oregon’s first tobacco product liability lawsuit, a 1999 case involving millions in punitive damages that was eventually heard by the U.S. Supreme Court.
More recently in federal court, Judge Brown presided over two complex, multi-defendant criminal jury trials arising from the 2016 occupation of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge in southeastern Oregon. The high-profile cases posed legal, logistical and security problems, including concerns for her personal safety in the face of credible threats. Most dramatically, while dealing with a potential disruption of jury deliberations, Judge Brown learned her husband had fallen gravely ill and been hospitalized. She worked resolutely to resolve the jury issue, then rushed to her husband’s bedside.
“Judge Brown understood that the call of duty demanded her very best effort in one of the most difficult moments in her life,” wrote Multnomah County Circuit Judge Cheryl A. Albrecht, who described the episode in her letter of nomination.
A Portland native born to immigrant parents, Judge Brown worked full-time as a police 9-1-1 operator while earning a B.S. at Portland State University in 1975. She obtained her J.D. in 1980, taking night classes at the Northwestern School of Law of Lewis and Clark College while also law clerking for Multnomah County Circuit Court Judge John C. Beatty, Jr. She began her career with the Portland law firm of Bullivant Houser Bailey and later became one of the first two women to be admitted as a partners of the firm.
Judge Brown has contributed to the advancement of the legal profession throughout her career. She is a past president of the Federal Judges Association and former member of the Oregon chapter of the Federal Bar Association. She helped found and is a past officer of the Gus J. Solomon Chapter of the American Inns of Court. She also served in various positions with Multnomah County Bar Association, the Oregon State Bar and the U.S. District Court of Oregon Historical Society.
A member of the Oregon Women Lawyers throughout her career, Judge Brown has been a role model and mentor to may women. Among those writing in support of her nomination were two women lawyers who credited Judge Brown’s influence and support with helping them go on to become judges.
The American Inns of Court professionalism award is given annually in all of the federal circuits to “a lawyer or judge whose life and practice display sterling character and unquestioned integrity, coupled with ongoing dedication to the highest standards of the legal profession and the rule of law.”
Senior Circuit Judge Mary M. Schroeder of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, a former member of the Board of Trustees of the American Inns of Court, will present the award.
The Ninth Circuit Judicial Conference is authorized by law “for the purpose of considering the business of the courts and advising means of improving the administration of justice within the circuit.” 28 U.S.C. § 333. Conferees include circuit, district, bankruptcy and magistrate judges working in federal courts in nine western states and two Pacific island territories; lawyers practicing in these courts; court staff; and special guests.