Reed Grad To Serve On Oregon Supreme Court

Gov. Kate Brown hails the collegial style and “brilliant mind” of Judge Chris Garrett ’96.

By Chris Lydgate ’90 | December 27, 2018

Governor Kate Brown has appointed appellate judge Chris Garrett ’96 to the Oregon Supreme Court, effective January 1, 2019.

“Judge Garrett is a talented, thoughtful, and even-keeled jurist who is passionate about Oregon’s courts and the rule of law,” Gov. Brown said. “He brings to our high court the experience of a respected civil litigator, an effective state legislator, and a productive appellate judge. His brilliant mind and collegial style will be tremendous assets to the court and the people of Oregon.”

Intellectual rigor and public service are the hallmarks of Garrett’s career. He grew up in Portland, the son of two music teachers. His father taught organ at Lewis & Clark. His mother, Bonnie Garrett, ran Reed’s private music program for many years. He spent his freshman year at Willamette University in Salem, but transferred to Reed driven by a desire for “something different” and drawn by the school’s reputation for intellectual rigor. “Reed was a place where you could be anything you wanted, and that atmosphere of openness and nonconformity was really attractive.”

Garrett majored in political science and wrote his thesis on Oregon’s ballot measure system with Prof. Claire Curtis [political science 1994-98]. After graduating from Reed, he went on to earn a JD at the University of Chicago, then returned to Oregon, where he worked as an attorney and political aide before winning election to the statehouse as a Democrat in 2008. Tapped with the perilous mission of redrawing Oregon’s legislative and congressional boundaries based on new census data, he drew up a plan that won strong support from Democrats and Republicans. He also championed the Justice Reinvestment Act (HB 3194), which funds criminal justice alternatives to incarceration.

In 2014, he was appointed to the Oregon Court of Appeals, where he authored the court’s opinion in Klein v. Oregon Bureau of Labor and Industries, which upheld the enforcement of Oregon’s law that protects LGBTQ individuals from discrimination against bakery-owners who refused to provide a wedding cake to a same-sex couple.

He was a member of the board of directors of Oregon Lawyers Against Hunger, served on the Governor’s Public Safety Commission, and recently co-chaired the Oregon State Bar’s Legal Futures Task Force.

Garrett will serve alongside Reed trustee Justice Adrienne Nelson on the state’s highest bench. Other Reedies who have served as supreme court justices include Jacob Tanzer ’56 and Hans Linde ’47.

Tags: Alumni, Awards & Achievements, Life Beyond Reed, Service