Joseph Jerome Farris

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Jerome Farris
Senior Judge of the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit
Assumed office
March 4, 1995
Judge of the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit
In office
September 27, 1979 – March 4, 1995
Appointed byJimmy Carter
Preceded bySeat established by 92 Stat. 1629
Succeeded byM. Margaret McKeown
Personal details
Joseph Jerome Farris

(1930-03-04) March 4, 1930 (age 89)
Birmingham, Alabama
EducationMorehouse College (B.S.)
Clark Atlanta University (M.S.W.)
University of Washington School of Law (J.D.)

Jerome Farris (born Joseph Jerome Farris; March 4, 1930) is a Senior United States Circuit Judge of the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit.[1]

Education and career[edit]

Born in Birmingham, Alabama, Jerome Farris received a Bachelor of Science degree from Morehouse College in 1951 and was in the United States Army Signal Corps from 1952 to 1953.[2][3] He received a Master of Social Work from Atlanta University (now Clark Atlanta University) in 1955 and a Juris Doctor with Order of the Coif honors from the University of Washington School of Law in 1958.[4] He was in private practice in Seattle, Washington from 1958 to 1969 with various partners, including Leonard W. Schroeter.[5][6] Farris served as one of the initial judges on the Washington Court of Appeals, Division One, in Seattle from 1969 to 1979.[7]

Federal judicial service[edit]

On July 12, 1979, President Jimmy Carter nominated Jerome Farris to a new seat on the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit created by 92 Stat. 1629.[8][9] The United States Senate confirmed the nomination on September 26, 1979, and Farris received his commission on September 27, 1979. In Hirabayashi v. United States (1987), Farris sat on the circuit panel that by coram nobis unanimously vacated an exclusion order conviction that had been upheld by the Supreme Court of the United States during the World War II wartime internment of Japanese Americans.[10][11] He assumed senior status on March 4, 1995,[12] and M. Margaret McKeown was named to replace him.[13]

Judge Farris's Ninth Circuit law clerks include Brenda K. Sannes, who later became a judge of the United States District Court for the Northern District of New York.


In 1997, Judge Farris published an article arguing that, while the Ninth Circuit is the circuit most often reversed by the United States Supreme Court, this was not due to error or the circuit being "too liberal" but rather the circuit hears a large number of cases involving controversial topics, and "courts cannot determine right and wrong in an absolute sense because the law is not absolute."[14]

Although a Democratic appointee, Farris was described by his colleague Stephen Reinhardt as "extremely conservative on criminal justice issues."[15]

Tree cutting[edit]

In August 2002, Farris had 120 cherry and maple trees in Colman Park, a city park in Seattle, cut down to improve the view of Lake Washington from his house.[16] Norm Maleng, the King County Prosecuting Attorney, declined to file felony malicious mischief charges.[16] The Seattle City Attorney settled with the judge for a fine of $500,000.[17][18] After Farris refused to pay the fine on time the city placed a lien on his 8,000 square-foot Mount Baker house.[19] Farris claimed the trees were cut down due to a miscommunication with his Vietnamese gardener, which the gardener denied.[19] A jury heard testimony from the gardener when Farris sued his homeowner's insurer for coverage of the fine.[20] The jury ruled against Farris.[20] Farris finally paid the full fine (with interest) in the amount of $618,000 in May 2006.[17]

Civic activities[edit]

In 1985, Governor Mike Lowry appointed Jerome Farris to a six-year term as a Regent of the University of Washington, and then he was re-appointed by Governor Gary Locke, serving until 1997.[21] Since 1999, he has served on the Board of Trustees of his alma mater, Morehouse College, from which he received a Doctor of Law (LL.D.) in 1978.[22][23]

Personal life[edit]

On June 27, 1957, Jerome Farris married Jean Marie Shy in King County, Washington, and they had two daughters: Juli and Janelle.[24] Jean Farris died on December 2, 1992.[24]


  1. ^ Judges of the United States. Washington, D.C.: Judicial Conference of the United States. Bicentennial Committee. 1978. p. 158. Retrieved October 12, 2017.
  2. ^ Faulk, Kent (May 17, 2013). "Before the civil rights movement Alabama blacks faced discrimination on their way to getting law degrees and licenses to practice". Alabama Media Group. Retrieved October 13, 2017.
  3. ^ "Famous Alumni". Morehouse College Alumni Association. Retrieved October 13, 2017.
  4. ^ "Alumni Trivia Answers" (PDF). Condon Crier. University of Washington Law School. 1 (17): 6. February 9, 2004. Retrieved October 12, 2017.
  5. ^ "Leonard Schroeter, In memoriam (1924-2014)". Stritmatter Kessler LLP. 2014. Retrieved October 13, 2017.
  6. ^ Sison, Erika (April 30, 2014). "The passing of Leonard Schroeter". Schroeter, Goldmark & Bender. Retrieved October 13, 2017.
  7. ^ "African American Judges in Washington State" (PDF). Washington State Courts. October 26, 2008. Retrieved October 12, 2017.
  8. ^ "Records of the White House Press Office: A Guide to Its Records at the Jimmy Carter Library" (PDF). The Jimmy Carter Presidential Library and Museum. March 2017. p. 126. Retrieved October 12, 2017.
  9. ^ "The Judges of this Court in Order of Seniority". U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit. March 2017. Retrieved October 12, 2017.
  10. ^ Narasaki, Karen (2012). "The Reopening of United States v. Hirabayashi: Reflections from the Legal Team". Seattle Journal for Social Justice. 11: 53. Retrieved October 4, 2016.
  11. ^ Hirabayashi v. United States, 828 F.2d 591 (9th Cir. 1987).
  12. ^ Holding, Reynolds (November 10, 1997). "Judge's Story of Killing Had Raised Doubt Before / Colleague confronted Ware in August". San Francisco Chronicle. p. 1. Retrieved October 12, 2017.
  13. ^ "Nominations, Senate". Congressional Record, 104th Congress, 2nd Session. 142 (46): S3249–S3250. March 29, 1996. Retrieved October 13, 2017.
  14. ^ Farris, Jerome (1997). "The Ninth Circuit-Most Maligned Circuit in the Country-Fact or Fiction" (PDF). Ohio State Law Journal. 58: 1465. Retrieved October 4, 2016.
  15. ^ Reinhardt, Stephen (1999). "The Anatomy of an Execution: Fairness vs. "Process"" (PDF). New York University Law Review. 74: 313. Retrieved October 12, 2017.
  16. ^ a b Taus, Margaret (January 30, 2003). "Judge to pay $500,000 for cutting park trees". Seattle Post-Intelligencer. Retrieved October 4, 2016.
  17. ^ a b Langston, Jennifer (May 26, 2006). "Judge pays off debt for cutting park trees". Seattle Post-Intelligencer. Retrieved October 4, 2016.
  18. ^ Conklin, Ellis E. (October 4, 2016). "Seattle homeowners accused of felling 150 trees on public land for a better view". The Guardian (UK). Retrieved October 12, 2017.
  19. ^ a b Seattle Times Staff (October 26, 2005). "Judge got view, lost perspective". The Seattle Times. Retrieved October 4, 2016.
  20. ^ a b Westneat, Danny (December 16, 2005). "Sometimes the little folks win". The Seattle Times. Retrieved October 4, 2016.
  21. ^ "All Regents: 1861-Present". University of Washington. Retrieved October 13, 2017.
  22. ^ Almanac of the Federal Judiciary, Vol 2. Aspen Publishers. 1995. p. 67. ISBN 0735568898. Retrieved October 13, 2017.
  23. ^ "2011-2013 College Bulletin, Morehouse College Board of Trustees" (PDF). Morehouse College. p. 252. Retrieved October 13, 2017.
  24. ^ a b "Obituary: Jean Shy Farris". Seattle Times. December 3, 1992. Retrieved October 13, 2017.


External links[edit]

See also[edit]

Legal offices
Preceded by
Seat established by 92 Stat. 1629
Judge of the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit
Succeeded by
M. Margaret McKeown