Judge Angel LopezJudge Angel Lopez

Multnomah County Circuit Court Judge Angel Lopez


Profile - Judge Angel Lopez, Multnomah County Circuit Court

Judge Angel Lopez, one of the three recently appointed judges to the Multnomah County Circuit Court, has a warm, open and engaging manner which translates well to his new job on the bench.

The youngest of five children born to Mexican immigrant parents, Judge Lopez grew up in Compton, California. When he turned four, his father became incapacitated due to a medical condition and the family subsisted on his father's disability income and what Judge Lopez's mother could bring in from her employment. Lopez described the tremendous opportunity he received at age 14 when he was accepted to a program called Project Open Future and was awarded a scholarship to attend a private high school. He described the contrast between attending high school in the inner city in Compton and then transferring to Midland, a private high school where he was a boarding school student. As his high school was located in a rural setting, he learned the value of team work to complete chores while working on the school's farm. Following high school, he attended Occidental College on a scholarship majoring in psychology.

Lopez went on to attend law school at Willamette University, the only place he applied, graduating in 1978. At that time, the only lawyer he knew was Bill Shepard, the father of a friend of his, whom he described as tremendously influential in the Oregon legal community as well as a true professional. Over dinner at the Shepard home, Bill Shepard inspired Lopez to become a noteworthy attorney someday. He met his wife during his second year at Willamette University and fell in love with her at first sight. They married after law school.

After working for the OSB Affirmative Action program immediately after graduating from law school, Lopez, craving some trial experience, went to work for the Metropolitan Public Defender's office in 1982. At Metro, he tried numerous jury trials in misdemeanor and felony cases before founding his own firm with his wife in 1986.

Judge Lopez has held a number of leadership positions, including his tenure as OSB President in 2002, which he describes as excellent training for the bench, since presiding over meetings at the bar is much like presiding over a courtroom.

At first, Lopez was hesitant to pursue a position on the bench because of the solid reputation of his firm and his tremendous pride in having a Spanish-speaking law firm that could assist criminal defendants who only spoke Spanish. It was with his wife's blessing that he pursued a career on the bench, first with Governor Barbara Roberts and then with Governor Kulongoski.

In 2008, Judge Lopez attended a dinner with Governor Roberts as well as an aide to Governor Kulongoski, Danny Santos. It was during this dinner that he got to know her better and she went on to write a letter of recommendation for him to Governor Kulongoski.

Since taking the bench, Lopez has been busy in arraignments and with the criminal misdemeanor docket. He feels very comfortable in his new judicial position with colleagues he has known for years both in the prosecution and defense bars and feels excited to come to work every day.

Lopez describes his judicial philosophy as striving to be well versed on the issues that arise in his courtroom, being well prepared and making the litigants feel that he is ruling fairly and treating them with respect. To attorneys appearing in his courtroom, Lopez says he expects them to treat each other with honor and respect and he will let all parties and attorneys in his courtroom have their say and provide them with a thoughtful audience. Although his background has been in criminal litigation, he looks forward to handling civil matters and being on the civil motion panel. He requests that any attorneys appearing before him provide him with their materials well in advance of the hearing so that he has the necessary time to prepare.

Lopez feels that his experiences over his many years of practice as well as his love for the job have made him a natural fit for the bench. He truly feels as if he has "come home" with his appointment to the Multnomah County Circuit Court.

Authored by Dana Scheele and published in the November 2009 Multnomah Lawyer


Updated for the Internet in 2012