UO marks passing of renowned jurist and scholar Hans Linde

Hans Arthur Linde, retired Oregon Supreme Court justice and former professor at the University of Oregon School of Law, died Aug. 31 in Portland. He was 96.

Linde began teaching at Oregon Law in 1954 as an associate professor. As a faculty member, he was known for his dedication to teaching and scholarship. His tenure spanned more than 18 years in 1954 and 1959-77. The long-time educator taught federal constitutional law, legislative and administrative law, and torts.

While at the School of Law, Linde served as chair of the Wayne Morse Center for Law and Politics Chair of Law and Politics, housed at Knight Law Center. It is considered one of the most distinguished chairs at the UO, and Linde was selected for exemplifying the characteristics of Wayne Morse: integrity, independence and respect for the rule of law and civil liberties. 

Hans Linde UO President Michael H. Schill spoke to Linde’s influence.

“Justice Linde has a remarkable legacy as a professor, scholar and jurist,” Schill said. “It would be hard to overstate his impact on our legal community and international jurisprudence.”

In 2012, the School of Law established the Hans Linde Fellowship in Linde’s honor. The one-year fellowship supports student research on regional, national and state issues that at the intersection of law and public policy.

“Justice Linde was truly a legal giant,” said law Dean Marcilynn A. Burke. “We at Oregon Law will continue working to help ensure that the next generation of legal professionals have his same dedication and passion for upholding civil liberties.”

After his tenure at the law school, Linde was appointed to serve on the Oregon Supreme Court in 1977. He served on the bench for 13 years and retired in 1990. His time on the bench changed the nature of state constitutional law in Oregon, and his legacy is noted by his commitment to human rights and civil liberties through law.

U.S. Sen. Ron Wyden, a 1974 law school graduate, was a student during the time Linde served as a faculty member. In a statement to the law school he remarked that Linde was an oracle of the American judiciary, leaving a proud legacy of work that strengthened protections for civil liberties.

"Oregon was fortunate to have him serve on its highest court, as well as shaping the minds of generations of lawyers at the University of Oregon,” Wyden said. “Justice Linde will be deeply missed, but his legacy will continue through those he taught and inspired."

Professor Emeritus Dominick "Dom" Vetri recalls that as a faculty member, Linde was always interested in helping and encouraging younger faculty to undertake meaningful scholarship.

 “Twenty minutes of discussion with Hans reinvigorated your research and opened up new ways of thinking about your project,” Vetri said in a tribute to Linde. “Hans’ mind was so full of ideas and suggestions for law improvement that he simply had no time to work on all of them. He graciously shared research ideas of great potential with his colleagues and his students.”

Linde’s work and impact were recognized by the law school in 1987 when he was named recipient of the Oregon Law Meritorious Service Award. It was awarded for his extraordinary contributions to legal education and the legal profession.  

In the Oregon Law Review, former UO President and School of Law Dean Dave Frohnmayer recognized Linde for his “reputation as one of this generation's most original thinkers.” Frohnmayer also called Linde the “architect of democratic institutions.”

That sentiment is echoed by the Judge Rex Armstrong who sits on the Oregon Court of Appeals. As an Oregon Law alumnus, Armstrong, a 1977 graduate, not only took classes from Linde, but also clerked for him form 1977-78.

“Isaac Newton was a great scientist who said that he had been able to see farther than others because he had stood on the shoulders of giants,” Armstrong wrote in an email. “That metaphor fully applies to Justice Linde and his contributions to law and the institutions that administer it. Hans sought to understand legal questions by approaching them from a variety of perspectives, akin to how Einstein sought to understand physical phenomena, which led to important insights extending over the entire legal spectrum.  Hans was a giant among us who enriched the lives of all who knew him.”

A prolific scholar, Linde’s publications included a coursebook in legislative and administrative processes and more than 100 articles, lectures and reviews. His work has inspired an entire generation of legal scholars, including that of Oregon Law Professor Emerita Caroline Forell.

“Hans Linde changed my life,” Forell said in a tribute to Linde. “I owe much of my scholarship in the first half of my long academic career to Hans Linde. The impact Hans had on my legal scholarship was based on his Oregon Supreme Court torts opinions. He wrote opinions that could be read many times over and still reveal something new.”

Linde is survived by his wife, Helen; two children, Lisa and David; and two grandchildren, Jess Harrison and Adam Gabriel. In lieu of flowers, the family asks that donations be made in his honor to the Hans Linde Endowment.

Information regarding his memorial will be announced at a later date.

—By Rayna Jackson, School of Law