Harold Lyman Ryan

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search

Harold Lyman Ryan (June 17, 1923 - April 10, 1995) served as a federal judge on the United States District Court for the District of Idaho.

Education and career history[edit]

Born in Weiser, Idaho, Ryan graduated from Weiser High School in 1941, and attended the University of Idaho from 1941 to 1943 when he enlisted in the U.S. Navy.[1] He attended the University of Washington under the V-12 Navy College Training Program, completed midshipmen's school at the University of Notre Dame, and graduated with a commission as an Ensign in 1944. Ryan then served the remainder of World War II in the Pacific Theater aboard the U.S.S. Merrick.

Ryan returned to the University of Idaho in 1946 and entered the College of Law, graduating in January 1950. He was admitted to the Idaho State Bar in 1950, and returned to Weiser to practice law with his father, Frank D. Ryan. Ryan served as a Deputy County Prosecutor in Washington County, Idaho from 1951 to 1952, and was elected to serve as the Washington County Senator in the Idaho Legislature from 1963 to 1966. While in the Senate, Ryan took a particular interest in modernizing the Idaho judiciary and served as Chairman of the Joint Commission of the Idaho Legislature which instituted sweeping reform by reorganizing and modernizing the state judicial system, creating a court administration, and forming the Idaho Judicial Council. He also served as President of the Idaho State Bar from 1967 to 1969.

After serving as campaign director for U.S. Senator James McClure, McClure recommended Ryan to President Ronald Reagan to fill a seat on the United States District Court for the District of Idaho vacated by Raymond C. McNichols. Reagan appointed Ryan on December 7, 1981, and he was confirmed by the United States Senate on December 16, 1981.[2] Ryan served a term as Chief Judge from 1988 to 1992, and assumed senior status on December 30, 1992. His service on the federal bench termination upon his death from cancer on April 10, 1995.

Notable cases[edit]

In the mid 1980s, Ryan ruled in favor of inmate Walter "Bud" Balla and others that conditions in the state prison violated their constitutional rights. He imposed a cap on inmate population which necessitated the construction of a new maximum security facility.[3]

In the spring of 1993, Ryan ruled in favor of the state of Idaho in its long-running dispute with the United States government over storage of nuclear waste at the Idaho National Laboratory. As a consequence, the U.S. government significantly reduced the amount of low-level nuclear waste shipped to Idaho.


  1. ^ http://socialarchive.iath.virginia.edu/xtf/view?docId=Harold+Lyman+Ryan+1923-1995-cr.xml Harold Ryan Biography
  2. ^ http://www.fjc.gov/servlet/nGetInfo?jid=2080&cid=999&ctype=na&instate=na Harold Lyman Ryan Judicial Biography
  3. ^ Balla v. Idaho State Board of Corrections Opinion PubMed

External links[edit]