UO remembers attorney, jurist and professor David Schuman

Oregon Court of Appeals Judge David Schuman

David Schuman, professor of practice at the University of Oregon School of Law, a former justice on the Oregon Court of Appeals and a deputy attorney general of Oregon, died Oct. 8. He was 75.

A committed public servant, practitioner and professor of the law, Schuman began his 35-year legal career immediately after graduating from Oregon Law in 1984.  He served as a judicial law clerk to Oregon Supreme Court Justice Hans Linde and then was hired by former Attorney General Dave Frohnmayer to serve as the assistant attorney general with the Oregon Department of Justice.

Schuman returned to Oregon Law in 1987, and his commitment to the law came through as he taught constitutional law, criminal procedure, legislation and administrative law. He also served as associate dean for academic affairs from 1994 to 1996 and was a recipient of the University of Oregon’s prestigious Ersted Award for Distinguished Teaching. 

In 2017, Schuman wrote in the Oregon Law Review, “… the university expects its faculty to meet high standards in scholarship, service, and teaching,” and he exemplified that in every way. 

UO President Michael H. Schill remembers Schuman as a “wonderful man, inside the classroom and out.”

“I have heard from many of our law school graduates over the years that he was a great teacher and mentor,” Schill said. “He was a lawyer’s lawyer who had a profound impact on the university and our state.”

Ibrahim Gassama, Frank Nash Professor of Law, recalls Schuman’s compassion, courage and conviction.

“David was a beloved teacher and colleague as well as a distinguished scholar and jurist,” Gassama said. “He came from the same tradition as his mentor, Justice Hans Linde, and the late David Frohnmayer. He loved Oregon Law with a passionate intensity that his unwavering calm could barely contain. David stood for the rule of law, fair play and decency. He worked throughout his remarkable life to set the standards by which we should measure those values and he defended them with courage and conviction.”

Beyond his love of the law, Schuman was an avid bicyclist. On Oct. 5, he experienced a serious cycling accident and died as a result of injuries he sustained.

“David’s sudden passing is a tremendous loss for the school of law and for those who knew him,” said Dean Marcilynn A. Burke.  “As a community, we reflect upon and honor his many accomplishments and enduring legacy.”

Schuman leaves behind his wife, Sharon; two children, Ben and Rebecca; and three grandchildren, Milly, Halina and Sage. Information regarding a memorial gathering will be announced at a later date.

By Rayna Jackson, School of Law Communications


Deputy attorney general (1997-2000)

In 1997 Schuman was appointed by Attorney General Hardy Myers to be his deputy attorney general in the Oregon Department of Justice, where he served until 2001. Myers, in his nomination of Schuman for the 2014 Frohnmayer Award for Public Service, noted his colleague’s impact:

"It was my privilege, as Attorney General of Oregon, to invite David to become Deputy Attorney General. His accepting that invitation brought him not only into the second position in the Department but into one of the most demanding positions of state government-- more demanding than any person outside the Department can fully understand. To that position David brought in abundance those three qualities of a great lawyer that Dean Orlando Hollis once named as his choices: intelligence, integrity, and a capacity for hard work. In the more civic context of his work. David brought a keen dedication to the Department's primary mission of ensuring that state government follows law in its making and administration of law. He also brought a similar dedication to the Department's many other missions.  In the most personal sense, David was a counselor and advisor of unswerving directness and honesty. He never withheld his most candid opinion, and I suppose I hope that was, at least in part, because we respected each other too much for his doing otherwise.

"In sum, David's public career is an achievement that should be a source of great pride for the School of Law."

 —Hardy Myers, UO Law Class of 1964

Oregon Court of Appeals

On March 5, 2001, Gov. John Kitzhaber appointed Schuman to the Oregon Court of Appeals. He was elected to a full six-year term in 2002 and reelected in 2008. In this role his colleagues on the bench pointed to Schuman’s high ethical, professional and personal standards and his contributions to the development of law in Oregon:

"When I served with him on the Oregon Court of Appeals for six years, I found him to be engaging, prolific, judicious, and a wonderful mentor to clerks, externs, and colleagues. He has also quietly done remarkable work with programs for minority law students, including OLIO. Judge Schuman never calls attention to himself, but genuinely deserves this award.  It's people like Judge Schuman the school should seek to recognize with this award because of the incredible honors he has heaped upon the school by his example and work." 

—Attorney General Ellen Rosenblum, UO Law Class of 1977
Nomination for the 2014 Frohnmayer Award for Public Service

"Judge Schuman has made extremely significant contributions in his scholarly writing to all who care about the Oregon Constitution — a group that includes lawyers, judges, people who serve the state in government positions at all levels and finally all of the citizens of this state. The breadth and quality of the public service of Judge Schuman makes him an ideal nominee for this award." 

—Judge Henry Breithaupt, UO Law Class of 1975
Nomination for the 2014 Frohnmayer Award for Public Service

Distinguished Professor of Law (1987-94, 2001, 2014-19)

Whether inside the courtroom or the classroom, Shuman remained dedicated to mentoring the next generation of lawyers through internships, clerkships and the Oregon State Bar Minority Program. He was the recipient of the Oregon State Bar’s President's Diversity and Inclusion Award in 2007. The honor was given to him for his significant contributions to the goal of increasing minority representation in the legal profession in Oregon. His students, clerks and colleagues share their memories:

"He is committed to the law school, to the people of this state and to its constitution. David has ensured that decisions at all levels of government are made on their merits and that students, lawyers, and litigants are heard and treated with respect. David inspires students, law clerks and colleagues to public service and exemplifies that calling." 

—Chief Justice Martha L. Walters, Oregon Supreme Court, UO Law Class of 1977
Nomination for the 2014 Frohnmayer Award for Public Service

"I personally attest to Senior Judge Schuman's commitment to his students and to public service. In 1994, then-Professor Schuman was assigned to be my academic advisor at UO Law. He regularly — through three years of school — took his ‘mentees’ to lunches at The Glenwood, so that we could have a chance to discuss any issues with him. He listened to the students. And he paid the lunch tab. Every time.

"He follows through on his commitments. He cares about the effect his actions and words have on other people. He uses humor to lighten a conversation when needed. He knows how to run a meeting. He is good to his mentors and elders. He is supportive of his clerks. Those are things that are not visible to the public at large. Those are a few of the things that make a person a good person, and an ethical lawyer."  

—Alycia Sykora, UO Law, Class of 1997
Nomination for the 2014 Frohnmayer Award for Public Service

"David Schuman will forever be a pillar of Oregon’s legal community, within this school and across the state. He was a close mentor to me throughout my first year of law school and encouraged many of my peers to pursue their interests and goals. When teaching, students recognized his advocacy in keeping the rule of law while remaining loyal to a strong moral compass. David was an incredible judge, scholar, and teacher, and will be missed by all."

—Sarah Osborn, UO Law, Class of 2021