Owen M. Panner

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Owen M. Panner
Senior Judge of the United States District Court for the District of Oregon
Assumed office
July 28, 1992
Judge for the United States District Court for the District of Oregon
In office
February 20, 1980 – July 28, 1992
Nominated by Jimmy Carter
Preceded by Otto R. Skopil, Jr.
Succeeded by Ancer L. Haggerty
Personal details
Born (1924-07-28) July 28, 1924 (age 93)
Chicago, Illinois
Spouse(s) Agnes
Alma mater University of Oklahoma College of Law

Owen Murphy Panner (born July 28, 1924)[1] is an American attorney and jurist from Oregon. A native of Illinois, he has served on the United States District Court for the District of Oregon since 1980 and was chief judge of the court from 1984 to 1990. As of 2014 he is a senior judge on the court.

Early life[edit]

Panner was born in Chicago, Illinois to a geologist father.[2] The family, which included two sisters, moved to Oklahoma, where Panner grew up in the town of Whizbang.[3] His father worked in the oil fields as Owen grew up in the Great Depression and Dust Bowl.[3] In his youth he was an amateur golfer and won several titles.[3] After high school, he enrolled at the University of Oklahoma, but left after two years in 1943 to join the United States Army and the war effort, serving from 1943 to 1946.[2][3]

In the Army he received an engineering education at West Virginia University before more schooling for the Transportation.[3] Panner was then stationed in Los Angeles, California, where he worked on the docks coordinating shipments and where he met his first wife Agnes.[3] They married and had their first child in 1946.[3] The family was transferred to New York City, where Panner coordinated shipments to Europe after the end of World War II.[3] After his discharge he was allowed to enter law school at the University of Oklahoma, where he graduated in 1949 with a Bachelor of Laws degree.[2][3]

Legal career[edit]

Panner heard from a classmate’s uncle, judge Claude C. McColloch, that Central Oregon was a scenic place to live, and the family moved there in 1949.[3] In 1950 he entered private legal practice in Bend, Oregon, where he remained until 1980.[2] From 1971 to 1974 he was on the Judicial Reform Commission of Oregon.[4] While in Bend he worked for a variety of clients, including as general counsel for the Confederated Tribes of Warm Springs.[3] Due to his work for the tribe, he was offered, but declined, the position of Commissioner of the Bureau of Indian Affairs under President John F. Kennedy.[3] A trial lawyer, he became a fellow of the American College of Trial Lawyers and was named trial attorney of the year in 1973 for Oregon by the American Board of Trial Advocates.[4] Panner was also vice president of the Oregon State Bar and a member of the board of governors of the organization from 1961 to 1963, as well as president of the Central Oregon chapter.[4]

On December 3, 1979 President Jimmy Carter nominated Panner for a seat on the United States District Court for the District of Oregon after judge Otto R. Skopil, Jr. was elevated to the Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit.[2] Panner was confirmed by the United States Senate on February 20, 1980 and received his federal commission that same day.[2] Judges Helen J. Frye and James A. Redden also joined the court that same year.[3] He served as chief judge for the court from 1984 to 1990, and then became a senior judge for the court on July 28, 1992.[2] In 1987 he was named Lewis & Clark Law School’s distinguished honorary alumni.[4]

Later years[edit]

After assuming senior status, Panner continued to work for the court on a reduced schedule and, as of 2014, sits in on federal Court of Appeals cases.[3] The Oregon State Bar's litigation section presents an annual award for professionalism in honor of Panner.[5] He had four children and later remarried to Nancy.[3] Panner is a trustee of Lewis & Clark College, a former president of the Bend Chamber of Commerce, and a past president of the Oregon Historical Society.[4] As of 2014 he lives in Medford and presides at the James A. Redden United States Courthouse.[4]


  1. ^ Brownson, C.B.; Brownson, A.L.; Congressional Staff Directory (Firm) (2009). Judicial Staff Directory. Congressional Staff Directory, Limited. Retrieved May 12, 2015. 
  2. ^ a b c d e f g "Panner, Owen Murphy - Federal Judicial Center". www.fjc.gov. 
  3. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o Van Meter, Heather. Judge Owen Panner: From Whizbang to the Bench. Oregon Benchmarks, Spring 2003. Retrieved on June 9, 2008.
  4. ^ a b c d e f Lewis & Clark Law School: The Honorable Owen M. Panner. Lewis & Clark College. Retrieved on June 9, 2008.
  5. ^ Oregon State Bar Litigation Section. Oregon State Bar. Retrieved June 9, 2008.
Legal offices
Preceded by
Otto Richard Skopil, Jr.
Judge of the United States District Court for the District of Oregon
Succeeded by
Ancer L. Haggerty