The Honorable Paul J. De Muniz was elected to the Oregon Supreme Court in 2000 and served as the court’s chief justice and administrative head of the Oregon Judicial Department from January 2006 to May 2012, retiring from the court at the end of 2012. Between 1990 and 2000, he sat on the Oregon Court of Appeals and served as presiding judge on one of the three panels that comprise that body. Prior to ascending to the bench, De Muniz was in private practice for 13 years with the Salem, Oregon, law firm of Garrett, Seideman, Hemann, Robertson and De Muniz P.C., where he specialized in complex criminal and civil litigation, as well as appeals. From 1975 to 1977, he was a deputy public defender for the State of Oregon.
In November 2011, De Muniz was inducted into the National Center for State Courts’ Warren E. Burger Society in recognition of his commitment to improving the administration of justice within the states. In addition to his work within Oregon, he also was a member of the Conference of Chief Justices and was elected to its board of directors in 2008. He is on the board of trustees for the National Judicial College. In 2011 De Muniz completed a three-year term as a member of the Harvard Kennedy School’s Executive Session for State Court Leaders in the 21st Century. In 2002, De Muniz founded a rule-of-law partnership with judicial leaders in the Russian Far East, working with lawyers and judges in Russia to implement reforms within the Russian criminal justice system. De Muniz currently serves on the board of directors of the National Crime Victim Law Institute and Susan G. Komen for the Cure, Ore. & SW Wash.
De Muniz speaks frequently to both national and international audiences on the importance of maintaining independent state judiciaries, improving state court administration, and the need for adequate state court funding. He has served as the 2009 Robert H. Jackson Lecturer for the National Judicial College and, in 2010, addressed judicial leaders from 55 countries at the Asian Pacific Courts Conference on the ways and means of judicial branch strategic planning. Later that year, De Muniz gave the 17th annual Justice William Brennan Lecture on State Courts and Social Justice at New York University Law School, discussing the need for reengineering state court operations. In 2013 De Muniz addressed the National Academy of Sciences in Washington, D.C. on the subject of evaluating eyewitness identification evidence in court.
De Muniz’s work has been recognized with a number of state and national awards, among them: the National Judicial College’s 2009 Distinguished Service Award, the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers’ Judicial Recognition Award, the Oregon Area Jewish Committee’s 2010 Judge Learned Hand Lifetime Achievement Award, the Oregon Hispanic Bar Association’s Paul J. De Muniz Professionalism Award, the Edwin J. Peterson Racial Reconciliation Award, the Oregon Criminal Defense Lawyers’ Association Ken Morrow Lifetime Achievement Award, the Marion County Bar’s Paul De Muniz Professionalism Award, the Oregon Classroom Law Project’s 2011 Legal Citizen of the Year Award, the Campaign For Equal Justice 2012 Public Access to Justice Award, and the 2013 Oregon State Bar Judicial Excellence Award.
He was raised by his mother in Portland, Oregon, and attended Portland’s public schools. After finishing high school, he joined the U.S. Air Force and served a one-year tour of duty in Viet Nam. After his discharge from the service, he received his bachelor’s degree from Portland State University in 1972 and his juris doctor from the Willamette University College of Law in 1975. In 2010, Hispanic Business Magazine named him among the 100 most influential Hispanics in America. In 2012, Willamette University awarded De Muniz the honorary degree of Doctor of Laws. He presently serves as Distinguished Jurist in Residence at Willamette. De Muniz and his wife, Mary, reside in Salem, Oregon, and have three grown children and two grandchildren.
De Muniz is a former member of the IAALS Board of Advisors and the Honoring Families Initiative Advisory Committee.