Judge Merri Souther Wyatt

Multnomah County Circuit Court Judge Merri Souther Wyatt

Judge Wyatt is a Circuit Court Judge in Multnomah County. She has served on the family court bench since she was appointed in 1994. Since her appointment in 1994, she has also been elected to serve as a judge.

When she was twelve, Judge Wyatt decided that she wanted a career as a lawyer. Her decision was influenced by the mother of one her friends, the late Jean Lewis, the first female circuit court judge in Oregon. Judge Wyatt graduated from the University of Oregon in 1970. After four years of teaching junior high and high school English, she entered Willamette University Law School. During law school, Judge Wyatt worked at Legal Aid Services of Oregon, where she was immediately assigned to over three hundred cases and got her start in family law. Judge Wyatt realizes how fortunate she was to have the opportunity to work at legal aid where so many members of the judiciary, politicians and dedicated public interest lawyers have gotten their start. Judge Wyatt lobbied in the 1977 state legislature while she was in law school and was fortunate to work on several political campaigns.

After graduating in 1978, she entered private practice in Salem, Oregon. In 1986, she moved to Portland to work at Gevurtz Menashe. She left private practice to volunteer in juvenile court as a special prosecutor and referee. She subsequently applied to and was appointed to the bench.

Serving on the family court bench has allowed Judge Wyatt to do what she intended to do when she went to law school - make a difference. Judge Wyatt's fellow judges are dedicated, talented and collegial. Judge Wyatt believes that working collaboratively with the legislature and with the community to find solutions for families is the best way to help litigants in her court. Because she believes in the importance and inherent value of public service, Judge Wyatt volunteers with many organizations that focus on issues affecting families and children. Even after nearly thirteen years on the bench, Judge Wyatt finds her work fascinating and rewarding.

Originally authored by Pamela Schultz and printed in the November 1994 Multnomah Lawyer
Updated for the Internet in 2012