Chief Justice Paul De Muniz ’72 is the first Hispanic American on the Oregon Supreme Court. But he’s more concerned with accountability than ethnicity. As the first person to go to college in his family, Paul credits Portland State for giving him the chance to purse a career in law. And, while Oregon’s top judicial official is honored to be a forerunner, what Paul desires is to see the state judicial system more accessible, transparent, accountable, and engaged with the public.
One of the ways Paul fosters an interest in the justice system among all demographic groups is by encouraging people to be more connected to their state courts. To that end, Paul has worked to bring the courts to the people—literally. In 2008, the Oregon Supreme Court convened in a Klamath Falls High School gym and engaged the spectators in a Q-and-A discussion. The case involved a thousand farm families and 13 water districts battling with a federal agency over water rights in the Klamath Basin.