Garr M. “Mike” King JD ’63


Garr M. “Mike” King JD ’63, February 5, 2019, age 83.

Mike was born January 28, 1936, in Pocatello, Idaho, to Warren and Geraldine (Hanlon) King. His family moved to Salt Lake City when he was an infant. Following high school, he served in the Marine Corps from 1954 to 1957, attaining the rank of sergeant. Mike married Mary Jo after he completed his service, and they moved to Portland, Mary Jo’s hometown, in 1959.

Following law school, Mike was recruited by George Van Hoomissen, a newly elected Multnomah County district attorney, to be one of roughly 15 lawyers in that office. Among his colleagues were Jacob Tanzer and George Joseph. Van Hoomissen and Tanzer would go on to sit on the Oregon Supreme Court, and Joseph would become the chief judge of the Oregon Court of Appeals.

Mike became an associate at the Portland firm of Morrison and Bailey in 1966, focused on legal defense of insurance companies. He and Jack L. Kennedy, another Lewis & Clark Law School alumnus, then formed a law partnership in 1973. Among Mike’s clients was Owen Panner, one of several lawyers who were sued when the Washington Public Power Supply System defaulted on its bonds in 1983. It was the largest such default up to that time; bondholders eventually recovered about 40 percent of their money, but none of the lawyers ended up paying personally. Panner would go on to become a U.S. District Court judge.

Following service on the judicial conference for the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals, Mike was nominated in 1998 by President Bill Clinton and confirmed by the Senate as a U.S. District Court judge in Oregon. He replaced Judge Helen Frye.

Among the famous cases Mike presided over were Capital Consultants in 2000, involving massive losses that eventually forced a takeover by the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission; a 2002 lawsuit alleging that retail giant WalMart had failed to properly compensate Oregon employees forced to work overtime; and the 2008 lawsuit filed by Al-Haramain Islamic Foundation of Oregon against the U.S. Treasury Department for freezing its assets after listing the charity as a “specially designated global terrorist organization” in 2004. He also served as a senior judge for the trial of Mohamed Osman Mohamud, a Somali-American student arrested by the FBI in a 2010 sting, after he tried to set off what he thought was a bomb at a tree-lighting ceremony at Portland’s Pioneer Courthouse Square.

Mike took senior status in January 2009. He was succeeded by Marco Hernandez, formerly a Washington County circuit judge. In a 2010 interview recorded by the U.S. District Court of Oregon Historical Society, Mike had this to say about his colleagues: “My experience has been that judges don’t really vote on the basis of whether they’re Republicans or Democrats or liberal or conservative. I think they do a very good job of trying to do what is legally correct…be looking for people who are good lawyers who know the law, have an appropriate judicial disposition and then put them on the bench and let them decide cases.”

Mike is survived his wife; children Mary Beth Powell, Meg Conant, Mike King, Matt King, Jim King, and John King; siblings Patrick King, Kathleen McPolin, Shannon Myrin, Timothy King, Calleen Letaconnoux, and Terry King; and 13 grandchildren. A son, David, preceded him in death.