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Tribute to former Professor and Oregon Supreme Court Justice Richard Unis

March 09, 2016

  • Gloria and Richard Unis

Richard Unis died on February 10, 2016 from complications following a stroke. He was 87 years old.  A former associate professor at Lewis & Clark Law School, Unis is remembered as someone who helped form the part-time faculty in the 1970s and 1980s, teaching evidence in the evenings even into the 1990s.

“Never did I witness anyone with greater love for that subject than Dick Unis,” writes Emeritus Professor Ron Lansing. “His knowledge of evidence was unsurpassed.”

Unis was made an Oregon Supreme Court Justice in the early- to mid- 1990s, and served as a trial judge in Portland for nearly 25 years. Unis was also known for being a nutrition and fitness buff, someone who drank carrot juice, played basketball daily, and who could bench press 300 pounds.

Lansing says Unis “was known for his fairness and detachment from the spin of partisan political, economic, and social policy. To be sure, he was one of those rare referee types who fully understood what society needed from rules of law, from the good judgment on which those rules rest, and from the position he held in balance between them.  In short, he knew what” judicial” meant.”

Assistant Dean for Academic and Diversity Resources J.B. Kim took Unis’ evening evidence course. “He was funny, unpretentious, and clearly loved teaching evidence.  I kept his one-page handout on Character Evidence, as a handy reference, in the back of my trial binder throughout my time as a prosecutor.  Hundreds of alumni of L&C were fortunate recipients of his passion for teaching.”

Read Justice Unis’ obituary printed in the Oregonian on February 20, 2016.

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