County leaders, judges and attorneys on Tuesday thanked Judge Nan Waller for her sustained efforts to strengthen and safeguard the justice system in Multnomah County.
Judge Waller stepped down Dec. 31 as Presiding Judge for Multnomah County Circuit Court, as she was term-limited to six years. Judge Stephen Bushong has replaced her as Presiding Judge.
At an event hosted by the Multnomah Bar Association, colleagues seized the opportunity to thank Judge Waller for her efforts to build a new County courthouse in downtown Portland, establish a new statewide electronic court record system and reduce jail dependence.
“She is a finisher,’’ Chief Justice Tom Balmer said, recounting that when he became chief justice, Waller told him he needed to conduct meetings every month to assure the electronic court records process was completed. “We had a three-hour meeting every month...for five years,’’ he said. “And it’s one of the reasons the state got the project done.”
Chair Deborah Kafoury said she learned building the Sellwood Bridge that big projects required strong partnerships and that Judge Waller proved an excellent partner. She was often seen lugging a brick from the old courthouse to convince legislators of the need for a modern, seismically safe structure.
‘“That’s who Nan Waller is and what Nan Waller does -- when you need her, she’s there. And, let me tell you, she’s everywhere! I don’t know how she keeps her calendar straight.’’
Judge Waller was first appointed to the Circuit Court in 2001 by Gov. John Kitzhaber. She became presiding judge in 2012 after serving as the Chief Family Court Judge for five years. Prior to becoming a judge she worked as a Multnomah County Circuit Court Referee and as an attorney with the Metropolitan Public Defenders and Montana Legal Services.
Judge Maureen McKnight said Judge Waller is known for her warmth, reliability and intellectual depth on issues of law, social science and technology. Judge Waller is not retiring, but is returning to the general bench for the Circuit Court and will be shifting her focus to mental health court.
The Multnomah Bar Association hosted the celebration at Jefferson Station, steps away from the new courthouse under construction. Barbara Marcille, Trial Court Administrator for the Circuit Court and longtime collaborator, presented the Judge with a 3-D model of the new courthouse with surrounding buildings. The room cheered at the building expected to be completed on the the Portland waterfront by 2020.
“I am overwhelmed,’’ Judge Waller said. “So I want to say to all: thank you!”