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City Club of Eugene: From Eugene to Salem, A Conversation With Oregon Chief Justice Martha Walters

Recorded On: January 4, 2019

Air Date: January 7, 2019

Eugene’s own Martha Walters is now the Chief Justice of the Oregon Supreme Court, with all the duties of a sitting justice and responsibility for the administration of all the state courts in Oregon. What forces led her to Oregon and to the law?

In this program we learn about Chief Justice Walters’ legal practice representing plaintiffs in employment and civil rights litigation law. We also hear about the issues facing the judicial system in Oregon today and in the future, and the changes made to the profession and the judiciary by the influx of women to the ranks of lawyers and judges. Chief Justice Walters is interviewed by her friend and former law partner, Judge Suzanne Chanti, a trial court judge in Lane County.


Oregon Supreme Court Chief Justice Martha Walters

After graduating from University of Oregon School of Law in 1977, Chief Justice Walters worked as a lawyer in Eugene and built up a specialty in employment law. She was part of the legal team that won a 2001 U.S. Supreme Court case on behalf of professional golfer Casey Martin, who sued the PGA Tour over its requirement that players must walk during tournament play. The court ruled that Martin, whose circulatory disorder made it difficult for him to walk, was protected under the Americans with Disabilities Act and must be allowed to use a golf cart.

She had a distinguished career in the law and taught lawyers and law students, served on Lane County and Oregon State Bar Association committees, and served as Oregon’s representative to the National Conference of Commissioners on Uniform Stare Laws since 1992, serving as its President in 2007 to 2009. She is a Fellow in the American College of Trial Lawyers. She has served on the Supreme Court since 2006 and was unanimously elected by the justices to serve as Chief, stating on July 1, 2018.

Lane County Circuit Judge Suzanne Chanti

Judge Suzanne Chanti earned her JD degree at the UO in 1988, after graduating Southern Oregon University in Ashland. Prior to ascending to the bench in 2011, she was a partner with Chief Justice Walters from 1992 to 2006, when the Chief Justice was appointed to the Supreme Court. Judge Chanti served on many county, state and federal bar committees in addition to doing volunteer work for the disability community and serving on the board of directors of the Eugene Ballet and the Lane County Public Defenders.

Copyright KLCC, 2019

Love Cross joined KLCC in 2017. She began her public radio career as a graduate student, serving as Morning Edition Host for Boise State Public Radio in the late 1990s. She earned her undergraduate degree in Rhetoric and Communication from University of California at Davis, and her Master’s Degree from Boise State University. In addition to her work in public radio, Love teaches college-level courses in Communication and Public Speaking.