James A. Redden

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This article is about the U.S. District Judge in Oregon. His son, Jim Redden, was the publisher of PDXS and is a reporter for the Portland Tribune.
James A. Redden
Senior Judge of the United States District Court for the District of Oregon
Assumed office
March 13, 1995
Judge of the United States District Court for the District of Oregon
In office
February 20, 1980 – March 13, 1995
Preceded by Seat Established
Succeeded by Ann Aiken
10th Oregon Attorney General
In office
January 3, 1977 – March 24, 1980
Preceded by Lee Johnson (R)
Succeeded by James M. Brown (D)
Oregon State Treasurer
In office
January 1, 1973 – January 3, 1977
Preceded by Robert W. Straub
Succeeded by Clay Myers
Personal details
Born (1929-03-13) March 13, 1929 (age 88)
Springfield, Massachusetts, U.S.
Political party Democratic
Spouse(s) Joan Johnson Redden
Children Jim Redden, journalist
Bill Redden, attorney
Residence Beaverton, Oregon, U.S.
Alma mater Boston College Law School
Occupation Attorney

James Anthony "Jim" Redden Jr. (born March 13, 1929) is an American judge and politician from the U.S. state of Oregon. Since 1980, he has served as a District Court Judge for the United States District Court for the District of Oregon; he took Senior Status in 1995.[1] Before appointment to the bench, he was a trial attorney, and a career Democratic politician, serving as a legislator and in two of the state's constitutional offices, Treasurer[2] and Attorney General.[3] As a politician, he was a key figure in some of Oregon's most groundbreaking legislative initiatives, including brokering the deal which brought passage of the state's 1967 public beach access law.[1] Many of the cases he has heard in his quarter of a century on the federal bench gained national attention, often sparking controversy, including his dismissal of the 1975 guns and ammunition charges against American Indian Movement leader Dennis Banks,[4] and his more recent 2005 and 2006 decisions halting the Bush administration's plans to reduce spillway flows on the Columbia and Snake rivers, flows which environmentalists and indigenous tribes have criticized as devastating to the salmon runs.[5][6][7] The federal courthouse in Medford, Oregon, where he practiced law for 17 years,[1] was renamed by an Act of Congress in his honor.[8] He and his wife, Joan, make their home in Beaverton, Oregon and have two adult sons: Jim, a reporter for the Portland Tribune, and Bill, a public defender.

Early life[edit]

During the days of the Great Depression, Jim Redden was born in Springfield, Massachusetts, the third child of James A. Redden, Sr., a dentist, and his wife, Alma. He spent his early childhood in their home on Bronson Terrace at the eastern edge of Forest Park, where for a time his father also maintained his dental office[9]

During what he would later describe as a "mediocre" high school career,[10] Redden enlisted in the Army in 1946,[11] serving two years as a PFC in occupied Japan.[1] He was assigned as a hospital medic and witnessed the aftermath of the bombing of Hiroshima firsthand.[1]

After discharge from the service, he married his high school sweetheart, Joan Johnson, in 1951,[1] and he took several low-end jobs, including working coding survey sheets for the Gillette Razor Company,[10] and managed not only to earn a belated high school diploma, but went on to Boston College and its School of Law, graduating with an LL.B. in 1954, and was admitted to the Massachusetts bar the same year.[1]

After engaging in the private practice of law in Massachusetts for only a year, the young attorney moved with his wife and young sons to Portland, Oregon in 1955 to take the Oregon State Bar exam and a position with a title insurance company. His work as a title examiner lasted only one year, followed by an equally brief tenure as a claims adjuster for Allstate Insurance Company.[11] Neither position satisfied what he would later describe as a growing passion for the law, particularly as it plays out in the courtroom.[1]

Redden and his family would make their home for the next seventeen years in Medford, Oregon, where he built a law practice. He became immersed in politics, quickly becoming regarded as one of the Democratic Party's "rising stars."[1]

Legislative career[edit]

It was as a favor to a friend seeking a challenger to the incumbent Republican for the 19th District in the Oregon House of Representatives that Redden entered his first political race in 1962.[7] He won the race and served for six years in the House, becoming the party Minority Leader in 1967.[12]

In 1969 Redden moved to the executive branch, becoming chairman of the Public Employee Relations Board until 1972. From 1973 to 1976 he was the state treasurer, and from 1977 to 1980 he was the attorney general of Oregon.

Judicial career[edit]

Redden was nominated by President Jimmy Carter on December 3, 1979, to a new seat on the United States District Court for the District of Oregon created by 92 Stat. 1629. He was confirmed by the United States Senate and received his commission on February 20, 1980. He served as chief judge from 1990 to 1995, and then assumed senior status on March 13, 1995. However, he continues to remain active as a judge in senior status.

Since 2003, Redden has emerged as a central figure in the tension between industry and environmental concerns about the hydroelectric dams on the Columbia River. He has rejected two management plans advanced by the federal government of the United States, on the grounds that they fail to protect various species of salmon, as required by the Endangered Species Act, and has suggested that if the Bush administration failed to adequately address the salmon issue, management of the dams could fall to the courts.[13] In November 2011 he announced he would remove himself from the case prior to a new plan from the government would be presenting in 2014.[14]


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i Rojas-Burke, Joe (July 11, 2005). "James A. Redden: An amiable Judge, A hard line on salmon". The Oregonian. pp. A1. 
  2. ^ "Treasurers of Oregon". Oregon Blue Book. Oregon Secretary of State. 2006. 
  3. ^ "Attorneys General of Oregon". Oregon Blue Book. Oregon Secretary of State. 2006. 
  4. ^ "Dismissal of charge against Indian leader upheld". New York Times. UPI. September 2, 1984. pp. A28. 
  5. ^ Milstein, Michael (November 25, 2005). "U.S. offers new fish tactics for Columbia basin". The Oregonian. pp. B1. 
  6. ^ Harden, Blaine (November 25, 2005). "Bush Policy Irks Judges in West; Rulings Criticize Agencies for Not Protecting the Environment". Washington Post. pp. A1. 
  7. ^ a b Barnard, Jeff (February 19, 2006). "Judge: "Follow the Law, Save the Salmon"". The Columbian. (UPI) Vancouver, WA: Columbian Publishing Co. pp. A1. 
  8. ^ First introduced as S.1875 and enacted as amendment to Pub.L. 104–208
  9. ^ United States of America, Bureau of the Census. Fifteenth Census of the United States, 1930. Washington, D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration, 1930. T626, Springfield, Hampden, Massachusetts; Roll 911; p. 5A; E.D. 83; Image 191.0.
  10. ^ a b Painter, Jr., John (April 7, 1990). "3 judges take overdue break to note decade together on federal bench". The Oregonian. pp. B4. 
  11. ^ a b "James Anthony Redden." Marquis Who's WhoTM. Marquis Who's Who, 2006. Reproduced in Biography Resource Center. Farmington Hills, Mich.: Thomson Gale. 2006. [1] Retrieved: 2006-12-07
  12. ^ Van Meter, Heather (Fall 2005). "Judges Helen Frye, Owen Panner and James Redden" (PDF). Oregon Benchmarks. The U.S. District Court of Oregon Historical Society. Retrieved 2007-06-06. 
  13. ^ Milstein, Michael (December 11, 2007). "Judge rips latest plan to help salmon". The Oregonian. 
  14. ^ Learn, Scott (November 23, 2011). "Judge James Redden to step down after a decade on the Northwest's biggest salmon lawsuit". The Oregonian. Retrieved November 23, 2011. 

External links[edit]

Political offices
Preceded by
Robert W. Straub
Oregon State Treasurer
1973 – 1976
Succeeded by
Clay Myers
Legal offices
Preceded by
Lee Johnson
Oregon Attorney General
1977 – 1980
Succeeded by
James M. Brown
Preceded by
Newly created seat
Judge of the U.S. District Court for the District of Oregon
February 20, 1980 – March 13, 1995
Succeeded by
Ann Aiken