Judge Goodwin

I'm reliably informed that Judge Alfred T. Goodwin, known to all as Ted, died today. In his last years, he lived in Sisters, Oregon. He was 99½ years old.

Goodwin was retired from the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, which he served for many decades, including several years as Chief Judge. Prior to being appointed to the Ninth by Richard Nixon in 1971, he had been a federal district court judge, an Oregon Supreme Court justice, an Oregon Court of Appeals judge, and a county circuit court judge. He almost made it to the U.S. Supreme Court; he was reportedly a finalist for the seat that went to John Paul Stevens.

Goodwin issued many important decisions in his career on the bench, some of them controversial and courageous. He was a key figure in the history of Oregon, and also in the history of the federal courts on the West Coast. 

I was one of Goodwin's law clerks in Portland in 1978 and 1979. His chambers were in the Pioneer Courthouse, which then had a working post office branch and other federal offices on the first floor. The Judge was a major influence on my professional life, and without him, I would have gone L.A. law and ended up who-knows-where. It was an unforgettable year, over far too quickly.

There will be many tributes to the Judge this week and in the weeks to come. Fortunately, over the last couple of decades a lot of us got to tell him to his face how much he meant to us. I wrote some stuff to that effect here in 2003. There was another post, from a party some years later, here.

Goodwin's was a true Oregon life, well-lived. You could write a book about it; maybe somebody will. Condolences to the Goodwin family and to the Judge's legions of fans and loved ones.


  1. You lucky pup getting to clerk for him. But didn’t realize you were so old.

  2. Condolences, and many prayers for all.

  3. Sorry to hear about his passing, but he had a long, full life. Condolences to you and all who were fortunate enough to know him well.


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