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Oregon judge to receive William H. Rehnquist Award for Judicial Excellence

Molly Justice
Director of Communications & Online Media
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Oregon judge to receive William H. Rehnquist Award for Judicial Excellence

Photo of Nan WallerWilliamsburg, Va. (Oct. 20, 2022) – Multnomah County Circuit Judge Nan G. Waller has been named the recipient of the 27th Annual William H. Rehnquist Award for Judicial Excellence presented by the National Center for State Courts (NCSC).

One of the highest judicial recognitions in the country, the Rehnquist award honors a state court judge who demonstrates the outstanding qualities of judicial excellence, including integrity, fairness, open-mindedness, knowledge of the law, professional ethics, creativity, sound judgment, intellectual courage and decisiveness.

“The National Center for State Courts is thrilled to present this award to Judge Waller,” said NCSC President Mary C. McQueen. “We have had the pleasure of working with her on many projects over the years, and I can’t think of a more dedicated and deserving jurist to receive this honor.”

Judge Waller will receive the Rehnquist award from Chief Justice of the United States John G. Roberts, Jr., during an event at the Supreme Court of the United States in November.

In her nomination letter, Oregon Supreme Court Chief Justice Martha L. Walters highlighted Judge Waller’s numerous contributions that include developing innovative approaches to family law, mental health and equity and racial disparity to adopting new ways of thinking about statewide electronic filing and case management and courthouse planning.

“Judge Waller has been a wise, compassionate and relentlessly persistent leader in a wide range of major court issues in Oregon – and playing out across the nation – over the past 30 years,” Chief Justice Martha L. Walters wrote. “Judge Waller makes a difference - one vulnerable child, teen, or adult at a time – providing a bridge, and often a lifeline, that brings the potentially impersonal justice system down to a human level with compassion, listening, legal expertise, and a commitment to equity and justice.”

Oregon Governor Kate Brown echoed the chief justice’s sentiment in her support of Judge Waller.

“For 30 years, Judge Waller has helped shape a better life for all Oregonians through her thoughtful, compassionate, and diligent work on the bench, in our state court system, and through her leadership in national efforts to improve access to justice,” the governor wrote.

Judge Waller has served in Multnomah County as a circuit court judge since 2001, with the last four years assigned to a mental health court and competency docket. Her tenure on the bench also includes four years as the chief family court judge and six years as the presiding judge.

Judge Waller has a rich history of judicial and legal service at the local, state and national levels. One of her current activities is serving on the National Judicial Task Force to Examine State Courts’ Response to Mental Illness, a group dedicated to fostering multi-disciplinary, collaborative coordination among local, state and federal agencies and service providers to improve public safety and treatment outcomes. She has also been celebrated with numerous awards that recognize her public service and commitment to family and children throughout her legal career.

Judge Waller is a graduate of the University of Oregon School of Law and Stanford University and resides in Portland.