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In Memoriam: Honorable Edward Leavy

August 14, 1929 – March 12, 2023

Circuit Judge, U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit

Edward Leavy passed away March 12, 2023, at age 93. He was born August 14, 1929, on the family hop farm near Butteville, Oregon, to parents Patrick Leavy and Ella O’Brien. He was the youngest of their 10 children. His father Patrick died in 1941 when Ed was 11 years old, leaving his mother Ella operating the farm along with his older brothers. Ed grew up working on the family farm, operating crawler tractors and weighing hops during the hand-picking era.

Ed graduated from the University of Portland in 1950, and married his Woodburn High School classmate, Eileen Hagenauer, June 16, 1951. He graduated from Notre Dame Law School in 1953, and served as Deputy District Attorney in Eugene, Ore., from 1954 to 1957. He was appointed, and then elected, as Lane County District Judge from 1957 to 1960, and as Lane County Circuit Judge from 1961 to 1976. Ed was selected by Oregon district court judges to serve as U.S. Magistrate for the District of Oregon in Portland from 1976 to 1984. In 1984, President Reagan appointed him to the U.S. District Court of Oregon, where he presided over many civil and criminal trials, including the plea negotiations involving Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh and his followers. President Reagan in 1987 appointed Ed to the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, where he served until his death.

Ed assumed senior status on the Ninth Circuit in 1997, but he continued to participate in the court’s cases until last year. In 2001, he was appointed by Chief Justice Rehnquist to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act Court of Review, serving from 2001 to 2008. As a senior judge, he also served as a mediator in many complex federal cases, including multi-party Oregon pension fraud cases, and numerous precedent-setting mediations involving the Tribes of the Warms Springs, Umatilla, the Yakama Nation, the Department of Justice, and the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission. In 2015, he was selected to receive the prestigious Edward J. Devitt Distinguished Service to Justice Award, considered to be among the federal judiciary’s highest honors. At his death, he had served as a judge, on both the state and federal courts, for 66 continuous years.

When not working, Ed was happiest driving a tractor on the farm. In 1972 and 1973, while he was a state circuit court judge in Eugene, he took his annual three-week vacation to help his brother Joe harvest the fall hop crop. He adored sharing the beauty of the farm with others. He also enjoyed woodcutting and crabbing, and spending time with his grandchildren. Ed was always trying to figure out a more efficient system, which he often accomplished when approaching any task, whether at leisure or as a judge. Neighbors and friends were always important in his life, beginning with the neighboring farmers in Butteville, to dear friends in Eugene, and ending with his friends in Charbonneau. In August 2000, Ed and his lifelong friend from boyhood, Foye Harper, visited the birthplace of Ed’s father in Westmeath, Ireland, locating many of the graves of his ancestors.

Ed is survived by his wife of 71 years, Eileen; three sons, Thomas, Patrick (Jean Ann), and Paul (Trisha); and five grandchildren. He was preceded in death by his beloved daughters, Susan Ann and Mary Kay (Mark Brown).