BLACK: legal events in Oregon | BLUE: legal events in the Oregon State Bar | BROWN: federal events | GREEN: hyperlinks
2015 Secretary of State Kate Brown assumes the office of Governor of Oregon on February 18, 2015, following the resignation of Governor John Kitzhaber. Openly bisexual, Brown is the first person in any state to become governor while openly LGBT.
2015 Loretta Lynch is the first African-American woman to become Attorney General of the United States.
2015 The United States Supreme Court rules that same-sex couples have a fundamental constitutional right to marry, striking down voter-approved legislation prohibiting same-sex marriage, and holding that states must recognize lawful same-sex marriages performed in other states.
2015 Raffi Freedman-Gurspan is appointed Director of Outreach and Recruitment in the White House Office of Presidential Personnel. Freedman-Gurspan is the first openly transgender White House staff member.
2015 Michael Levelle is elected the first African-American President Elect of the Oregon State Bar Board of Governors.
2015 Minoru Yasui, posthumously receives America’s highest civilian honor, the Presidential Medal of Freedom on November 16, 2015. Yasui, an Oregon lawyer, deliberately violated a WWII military curfew order excluding persons of Japanese ancestry from designated zones. Yasui spent nine months in solitary confinement during the subsequent legal battle in which he challenged the constitutionality of the order. The Supreme Court upheld the conviction Yasui v. United States, 320 U.S. 115 (1943). His conviction was vacated over 40 years later in a coram nobis proceeding, but the Court refused to issue a declaration that the conviction was unconstitutional.
2015 Governor Kate Brown appoints Oregon Appeals Court Judge Lynn R. Nakamoto to the Oregon Supreme Court. Justice Nakamoto is the first Asian American to serve on Oregon’s highest court.
2015 The National Black Law Student Association holds its annual convention in Oregon for the first time.
2015 The Oregon Supreme Court adopts amendments to Rules of Professional Conduct 8.4 clarifying that it is professional misconduct for attorneys to engage in harassment and intimidation based on protected-class status.
2016 Multnomah County Circuit Court judge, Judge Youlee Yim You, is appointed by the United States District Court for the District of Oregon as a United States Magistrate Judge, making her the first Asian Pacific American to join Oregon’s federal bench.
2016 Governor Kate Brown appoints Roger J. DeHoog to the Oregon Court of Appeals. Judge DeHoog is the second judge of Asian Pacific heritage to serve on the Oregon Court of Appeals.
2017 Michael Levelle’s tenure as President of the Oregon State Bar begins. Michael is the bar’s first African American president.
2017 Jonathan Puente is appointed as Director of the Oregon State Bar’s Diversity & Inclusion Department.
2017 Xiomarra Torres is appointed to the Multnomah County Circuit Court by Governor Kate Brown. The story of Judge Torres’s journey, from her arrival to the United States from El Salvador as an undocumented child who went through the foster care system, to her success as a family law attorney to her judicial appointment, was widely reported in the media, and was adapted into a theatrical production by Portland-based center of Latino arts and culture, Milagro Theatre.
2017 Steven R. Powers is appointed to the Oregon Court of Appeals by Governor Kate Brown. Judge Powers is the first Filipino American appellate judge in Oregon.
2017 Ulanda Watkins is appointed as a Clackamas County Circuit Court judge by Governor Kate Brown, and elected in 2018. Judge Watkins is the only judge of color in Clackamas, the third Black woman judge on the Oregon state bench, and the first Black judge to sit on the bench outside of Multnomah County.
2018 Raymond Crutchley is appointed by Governor Kate Brown to the Deschutes County Circuit Court. Judge Crutchley is the first Black judge to serve east of Oregon’s Cascade Mountains.
2018 Judge Mustafa T. Kasubhai is appointed to serve as a US Magistrate Judge for the District of Oregon, making him the first Muslim-American to serve on the Federal bench.
2018 Under the leadership of 2017 President Michael Levelle, Chief Executive Officer Helen Hierschbiel, and Director of Diversity & Inclusion Jonathan Puente, the Oregon State Bar Board of Governors adopts its second three-year Diversity Action Plan for 2018-2020.
2018 The Oregon Chinese Lawyers Association (OCLA) is formed, and elects its first President, Emery Wang, and inaugral board members Ron Cheng, Mae Lee Browning, Jovita Wang, and Edward Fu.
2018 The Oregon State Bar’s Diversity & Inclusion Department launches Rebar, a holistic program designed to help law school graduates from underrepresented groups, or those who otherwise advance the departmen’s mission,to retake the Oregon bar exam.
2018 Liani Reeves becomes President Elect of the Oregon State Bar Board of Governors, making her the first Asian Pacific American to be elected to this position.
2019 The South Asian Bar Association of Oregon (SABA – OR) is formed, and elects its first president, Somya Kaushik, and inaugural board members Aruna Masih, Judge Mustafa Kasubhai, Sunny Kakwani, and student board member Akriti Bhargava.