A Voice for Justice

Composite Biography


Before College:  Sarah Dietzel and Joe Schuman
Woodside:  Daria Halprin
Stanford: Nick Lovrich
Deep Springs: Carolyn Lehman, Brad Edmondson
Law School:  Ken Whitaker
Judicial Clerk: Justice Hans Linde (Rex Armstrong and Henry Breithaupt)
Deputy Attorney General: Kristen Grainger, Kate Brown
Law Professor and Assoc. Dean: Ibrahim Gassama
Judge:  Jack Landau, Rick Haselton, Melissa Aubin, Mardell Ployhar, Megan Thompson
Father:  Ben Schuman
Cyclist:  Photos, Alycia Sykora and Bob Rocklin

Before College

Sarah Dietzel, Sister; Joe Schuman, Brother

David was the second of four children born to Stanton Schuman, an attorney, and Marie Friedlander Schuman, a stay-at-home mother, in Glencoe, IL, an affluent suburb of Chicago. The elder Schumans were well known in their community for involvement in their synagogue, the Boy Scouts, the park district, and local committees organizing patriotic day observances and promoting civil rights and fair housing.

When the children were small, the athletic Stantonwho had played center for the U. Michigan football teamadded several extra seats and baskets to his bicycle, so that he could navigate around town with all four children perched on the bike.

David and his siblings all attended public schools, including New Trier High School. In elementary school he had a paper route, and while delivering papers from his bike, he had a run-in with a biting dog.  This incident led to his life-long antipathy to dogs, not necessarily ameliorated by the presence of Billy Budd the Terrier during his last decade.

Stanton was a Scoutmaster, so David, like his brothers Sam and Joe, participated in Boy Scouts.  He reached the rank of Life Scout and was elected to the Order of the Arrow.  The Schumans took many camping trips both with the Scouts and as a family. They were also active in the local synagogue, where David became a Bar Mitzvah when he turned thirteen.

David was a gifted athlete, excelling at any sport he tried, including gymnastics, speed skating, and baseball.  Following one baseball game in very wet conditions, he came home and demonstrated his slide into second base, inviting the whole family to join him in a plastic-free version of a slip ‘n slide long before it was invented. The lawn never recovered.

David’s primary sport was speed skating.  Every weekend from November through March was devoted to skating meets, affairs for the whole family.   While all four children participated in the races, Marie parked herself on a chair, swaddled in layers of warm clothes, including electric socks, with a flask to help her stay warm.  Stanton helped judge or time the races.  Though the majority of the meets were near Chicago, the family traveled throughout Illinois and the midwest to compete, including occasionally to the invitation-only national championships in St. Paul, and indoor championships throughout the country. In all the years the children participated, the Schuman parents never missed a meet.

By the time David was old enough to drive, just he and his sister Sarah, five years younger, skated competitively.  It was David’s job to be the chauffeur.  He was experimenting with cigarettes, and he introduced his eleven-year old passenger to tobacco. With her, it did not take, but he smoked until he was twenty-seven.

David was also the family clown.  On a road trip to Washington, D.C., he performed “ear stands” at all the nation’s famous monuments.  During that and other road trips, the Schumans would drive miles out of their way to sample restaurants listed in the Duncan Hines guide, Adventures in Good Eating.  They would also stop to play at local parks, and, in a vain attempt to disperse pent-up energy at highway rest areas, Stanton would stop the car at the beginning of the off-ramp so that all the kids could pile out and run to the end of the on-ramp. David participated in family cherry-and-watermelon-seed spitting contests, while hanging upside down from a chin-up bar.  He also kept his siblings in giggles by making snide comments about a resident grandmother who was hard of hearing.  Oblivious to his remarks, she noticed only David’s charming smile and considered the rest of the family quite rude for laughing.

David was a good but not stellar student. In high school, he once proudly brought home a report card that was all A’s. He put it on the table in front of his father, saying,  “Here, find something to complain about!” Without missing a beat, Stanton said, “Why are you only taking four majors?”  Could that attitude have had anything to do with David’s drive to excel?

815 Greenleaf

David was one of the “popular kids.” The owner of the local clothing store claimed that whenever David bought something, he knew to stock up on it, because others would soon want the same thing. In high school David spent time with a small group of friends that Marie referred to affectionately as “The Crudhounds.” The Schuman home was where they gathered, and the family itself had a sense of fun.  In fact, at one dinner when the kids were balancing full glasses of milk on their hands, Marie was worried about spills, and Stanton said, “Anything is all right in fun.”  He lived to regret those words when she returned to the table with a full bottle of milk and threw it at him.

He regretted those words on another occasion when he came home from work with a small hole in his shirt.  Marie pointed out the hole and ripped it a little bigger.  Soon all the kids joined in, and Stanton calmly continued eating his dinner even when all that was left was his collar and his tie. 


Another time, when several visiting relatives were eating with the family at a long figure-eight shaped table, a young man at the opposite end asked Stanton to “pass the ketchup.”  Calling on skills dormant since his Michigan football days, Stanton executed a perfect spiral pass.  The surprised relative did not know whether to catch the pass and drop the glass of milk he was holding or drop the ketchup and continue to drink his milk.  In fact, he dropped the milk and missed the ketchup (which came in a glass bottle back then).  Another mess, another family legend.

One favorite activity of the family involved a large rubber World War II-era pontoon boat that Stanton got at an army surplus store. It was a two-piece bargain, an outer oval rim of tubing about three feet high and twenty feel long, and an inner tube that filled the interior of the oval.  The inner part, when inflated, was known as the cigar and served as a trampoline.  One of the children would sit in the center.  When others jumped on the ends, the child in the center would fly into the air.  The inside of the outer ring, when filled with water, served as a swimming pool.

While the Schumans were pillars of the community, Stanton also took great joy in leading the kids on innocent but perhaps illegalsometimes hazardousexcursions.  He once drove the station wagon onto an elegant lakefront estate, until a guard showed up with a shotgun.  Another time he drove along unpaved back roads in a state forest, where the entire familyexcept the reproachful Marieclimbed a water tower to check out the view. Once he and the kids climbed through a hole in a fence to explore a decrepit, abandoned mansion.  When traveling in the North Woods during berry season, he would drive the car at a snail’s pace with the tail gate open, and the children would jump out to pick berries, then run to jump back in, over and over again until they had their fill of berries, with the car never stopping.  During corn season, he would drive the kids to a farm stand and on the way home they would peel the corn, tossing husks out the window.

This rogue attitude flourished during high school as the senior Schumans looked the other way while David stole road signs.  The walls of his room were covered with exhortations to SLOW, STOP, YIELD, be QUIET for HOSPITAL ZONE, or go ONE WAY.  How did this happen?

The Schuman home may have been a place of great fun, but David and his older brother Sam did NOT think it was a place of great food.  On weekends when Stanton cooked, expediency trumped care.  Weeknights when Marie cooked, routine trumped variety.  When they were old enough to drive, David and Sam often went out to McDonalds to fill up after family meals.

It is the fashion these days to find fault with one’s childhood.  Growing up in the Schuman household was not perfect, but it was a time filled with family, fun, and happy memories. 

Sarah, Joe, David, Sam

815 Greenleaf


Daria Halprin, Cousin

When we were little, almost every year my cousins David, Sam, Joey and Sarah made the trip with their parents from their home in a suburb of Chicago to our grandparents’ house in Woodside, California, an hour south of San Francisco.  I was envious of their big tribe and watched David out of the corner of my eye.


During the Woodside years, it didn’t take many of those visits for me to develop a serious crush on him. By the early 60’s, in my eyes David was my cousin the heartthrob:  handsome, athletic, cool, smart.  He was not a big talker, but I hung on anything he might saynot that he said much to meI hung around just in case he might. When he was at Stanford, near our grandparents’ house, I saw him more often, secretly hoping he might drop over when I happened to be there.  I liked watching him do cannonballs and flips in the pool. I was in awe that he was at Stanford.

Over time my teenage crush morphed into genuine regard.  My family tended toward flamboyant theatrics and a preference for public attention. David was the opposite.  He underplayed his remarkable intellect, his unique creative voice, his professional accomplishments.  Over time I began to get to know more about him and Sharon and was surprised to learn of all the interesting things they were up to.

During breaks from teaching at Deep Springs College, they lived just a few minutes away from us in Fairfax, Marin County, one of the last remaining villages that feels like the 60’s. Our daughter was 4 or 5 years old at the time. On one occasion, David and Sharon offered to give us time off and serve as overnight babysitters. It was a generous offer, and we didn’t hesitate to take them up on it.  An overnight to ourselves was gold! And the thing was that I completely trusted them with our little girl.  That was who they were to me: dependable, trustworthy, quietly generous.

Years later, when our son Jahan wound up at the University of Oregon, David and Sharon were his family link.  They had him over for dinner. Sharon, who taught at UO, gave him advice about professors not to miss.  One night as he was walking home with a friend, after listening to jazz and performing his poetry at a local art center, they crossed paths with police patrolling the streets to arrest drunken frat boys. The officers harshly roughed up and arrested both young men. When our son called from jail we were shocked, frightened, enraged, and far away in California. Calling David was my immediate reaction.

He calmed me downwhich was a featand reassured me that he would go right to the jail to make sure Jahan was OK and to make it clear that he had family nearby to look out for him. David handled bail, picked him up the next day, tried to convince him to stay a few days with him and Sharon to recover (an offer Jahan politely declined), found him a lawyer, and guided us through a costly and infuriating legal process. David simply took care of it.   

Recently, Sharon sent me his short story “Show Business,” which she was thinking of including in A Voice for Justice.  She emphasized that this is fiction, that David was exercising his artistic freedom, and that the story isn’t really about me.  Yet it takes place at a home remarkably similar to our grandparents’ Woodside house, and it features a character that bears an unmistakable resemblance to my twenty-something self. In this story David ribs this Daria character rather mercilessly. The piece knocked my socks off.  It was really something, and it left me wishing I could call him to chat about it.

My David crush remains a sweet, extended family memory, and I hold it dear. Without fanfare he showed up in the ways, at the times, and for the things that mattered.

Stanford, 1962-1966

Nicholas Lovrich, roommate

To those reading this composite biography, David Schuman was likely either a revered colleague or a mentor of major consequence.  To his colleague Judge Egan, “David Schuman was the intellectual giant of our generation.”  To his many law clerks, he was the Confucian sage, ever to be remembered for his uncommon insight and sensitive, caring way of relating to students.  To me David was “Dearie,” an affectionate nickname used by his grandparents Ida and Isadore in Woodside CA, and acquired by us over the course of four years at Stanford.

David and I became acquainted as freshmen in Junipero Serra.  Freshmen dorms (non-co-ed back then) were named for California missionaries, with Father Serra being among the most celebrated.  Apart from freshman anxiety and a bit of homesickness, David and I shared almost nothing in common upon first meeting.  He came from Glencoe (Chicago north shore), was recruited by Stanford at New Trier High School where Ivy League schools go to attract blue chip applicants, and he had well-educated and professionally successful parents, aunts and uncles.  David was blessed further with gifted brothers, Sam and Joe, a sister Sarah, and much-loved cousins Daria, Rana, Vikki, Joyce, and Heather.  He also had well-to-do grandparents in nearby Woodside, whose neighbors included Joan Baez and Ambassador Shirley Temple Black; and he was Jewish.

As for me, I was a native Californian (from San Pedro, LA Harbor area), an only child, and the graduate of a mediocre public high school.  Neither of my parents went beyond the fifth grade in then-Yugoslavia (Croatia today) before immigrating to the US.  My dad was a tuna fisherman, my mom was a traditional housewife, and my maternal grandparents were Croatian immigrants living in Vancouver, BC.  They were very traditional Roman Catholics who were distrustful of Protestants and Jews.  How David and I transcended these many differences to become lifelong friends remains a partial mystery to me, even to this day.

Thinking back to those long-gone days, however, it is perhaps the fact that David was an athlete at heartthat sports provided a doorway to our mutual discovery of deep connections.  At that time David was a nationally ranked speed skater (short sprints) who had decided to attend Stanford rather than try out for the US Winter Olympic team. In contrast, I was recruited to play baseball (2nd base) for the Stanford Indians (now the Cardinal) and was living out my youthful dream of playing college sports.  David showed a genuine interest in what it was like to be an athlete on The Farm.  A fellow LA area frosh athlete, Glenn Myers, was also housed in Junipero Serra; he was recruited from a rival schoolBanning HS in Wilmingtonto play football as a running back.  We had been frequent opponents in LA, but at Stanford, Glenn and I bonded as fellow jocks and first gen college students.  As such, we were largely shunned by our classmates who came to Stanford to expand their intellectual boundaries and broaden their social connections by associating with others of similar mind and social standing.  Of the 60 young men in Junipero Serra, David alone chose to get to know both of us.  He seemed to understand the challenges of pursuing academic studies while striving to excel in one’s sport.

David and Nick as Stanford freshmen

When our freshman year drew to a close, David asked if I would care to share an off- campus apartment the coming year.  We agreed that I would bring my car (customized ’51 Ford) and he would get a second-hand Lambretta motor scooter. We continued to share apartments each subsequent year.  Both of us participated in the precious Stanford-in-Italy overseas study program, and both of us ended up meeting our life partners Sharon and Katherine while in Florence.  David was my Best Man in 1967, and we maintained contact as our graduate school experiences unfolded and later on as our professional and academic lives developed.  When my daughter Nichole, now a public defender in Montana, went away to college, she decided to attend the University of Oregon where David and Sharon could provide a safe haven if needed.  She treasured having them as surrogate parents in Eugene.

With this as background, allow me to paint a brief sketch of David Schuman as a college kid.  David and I shared many of the customary experiences of college lifebeing ever strapped for money and greatly enjoying home-cooked meals whenever possible (matzo ball soup, challah bread, and fresh bagels were particularly prized).  The care packages of a couple of shopping bags full of leftovers and staples after spending a weekend with grandma and grandpa in Woodside were viewed as heavenly gifts. We were often at once burdened with and delighted by formal study and the learning that came from it, and occasionally we experienced life-altering events while at Stanford.  David studied psychology and literature, and I majored in International Relations.  We experienced the assassination of John F. Kennedy in 1963 as the lowest point of our college years.  The following year we witnessed a speech by the Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. from the front row of Memorial Auditoriumthe absolute highest point.

The 60s were tumultuous.  The Civil Rights Movement, the Free Speech Movement at Berkeley, La Huelga led by Cesar Chavez and Dolores Huerta, and the Anti-War Movement at Stanford featuring Joan Baez and David Harris, were all effectively raising deep concerns over injustice and social inequities. My own background for assessing these events involved having a father who was a leader of the Fishermen’s Union (ILWU Local 33) in San Pedro, a leftist west coast dockworkers union that was founded by the Australian Socialist Harry Bridges.  My upbringing entailed a kind of “workers of the world uniteyou have nothing to lose but your chains” framing of most aspects of political life.  Coming from vastly different social backgrounds, David and I nonetheless came to many shared sentiments.  We spent much of our time in study, writing papers, preparing for midterms and finals, and coping with the need to throw together meals and maintain an apartment in sufficient state of upkeep to get some of our deposit money back.  When time allowed we would take a break and attempt to make sense of the chaotic world around us.  We referred to those many discussions, usually over a couple of beers and chain-smoking cigarettes, as “solving the world’s problems.”

We often concluded our discussions with the hubris of naïve youth, believing that we had come to the proper understanding of racism in American, issues of global war and peace, and what public policies were required to promote justice in our nation’s economic affairs and civic life.  Thinking back to those moments, I believe David was crafting the foundations of his destiny to become a respected VOICE FOR JUSTICE.  At the outset, our conversations would often find us far apart in our understandings of the dynamics underlying the problems of the day.  As we deliberated and pondered, however, we would nearly always find a shared understandingthanks primarily to David’s patience to hear me out, and his sincere desire to reach agreement through reason and an appeal to sound evidence.  While I did not realize it at the time, he was helping me integrate what I was learning in my political science, economics, and history courses at Stanford into a larger philosophical framework.  This was not the formal philosophy of the Greeks or Romans or Enlightenment thinkers, but rather the practical philosophy of responsible citizenship in a democratic country where justice is to be sought continuously as an ongoing societal imperative.

While David and I were peers in age and college standing, in many respects he was clearly the sensei, and I was his aspiring student.  He was never condescending, insulting, or impatient with my too often poorly informed views; he used a calm and reassuring approach to discussion that usually led to our mutual agreement on matters of substance.  He was at once my dearest friend and my role model during these formative years.  More than anyone else I have ever met, David inspired within me a sense of both humility and genuine self-worth held in equal measure.

I trust that many of you reading these words saw in David this most amazing balanced combination of profound excellence and thoughtful consideration of those he knew could benefit from his kind touch and sound advice.  I was very lucky to have been the first subject of his intensive mentoring, and later the beneficiary of sage professional advice in my academic career.  In more recent years we discussed the matter of elective judiciaries and the importance of the independence of our courts and their judges.  As was nearly always the case, David’s superior intellect, vast reserve of pertinent knowledge, and extremely patient and persistent pressing of his case has brought me to share his views on this question.  I trust that many of you reading these words have had similar experiences with him.  If so, we all need to relish the memories associated with having had the good fortune to know such a truly remarkable person.  We need as well to celebrate the publication of A VOICE FOR JUSTICE and appreciate the able work and dedication that went into its production.  David would have agreed with Amanda Gormon’s recent reminder that “being American is more than a pride we inherit.  It’s the past we step into and how we repair it.”  David’s legacy of service to this cause of ongoing repair is beautifully captured in this book.

Deep Springs College, 1974-1981

Carolyn Lehman, Colleague

When Peter and I arrived at Deep Springs College in 1976, the Schumans had been the English faculty for two years and were the parents a baby, Rebecca. My husband, Peter Lehman, came as the Math and Physical Sciences professor. I was his plus-one, a young newspaper editor with my first book in press. A third teaching couple, Jackie and Alan Paskow—also a product of the Schumans’ determination to hire faculty couples—taught European languages and Philosophy and had a one-year-old, Linnea. We were the “younger faculty.”

Students, staff and faculty families usually ate together in the ranch’s boarding house. But we could all cook at home if we pleased, and once a week, Peter ground fresh flour on our stone mill and baked bread. For the six of us young faculty, Bread Night became a time to let our hair down and support each other in demanding lives as teachers and young parents.

For those who don’t know it, Deep Springs is a unique educational institution located on a cattle ranch in California’s remote White Mountains.

Deep Springs College

Established in 1917 by visionary L. L. Nunn, to educate “young men of promise,” the program at Deep Springs combines intense intellectual work, intense physical work and intense community life. The 24 students are tasked with everything that daily ranch life requires, from running the dairy and herding cattle, to irrigating alfalfa and washing pots in the boarding house kitchen. Academic classes are rigorous and student driven.  In my time, students who ate meat had to participate in at least one slaughter.

People’s lives are transformed at Deep Springs. Peter found students who shared his passionate concern for the health of our planet—they built the first two solar projects at Deep Springs—which launched his career as an innovative energy educator and the founder of the internationally respected Schatz Energy Research Center. In teaching Studio Art and Public Speaking, I found my footing in academia. David and Sharon became faculty and community leaders, recognized in their appointment as Associate Deans. Even after they left for careers in law and education, they were instrumental in changing the institution itself.

A major influence for David was the six-week summer interdisciplinary seminar that brought scholars like Jack Shaar, Jeff Lustig and former Dean Randall Reid, to teach alongside the Schumans. Those deeply intellectual explorations infiltrated the whole year of conversation in the boarding house and beyond. “For both of us,” Sharon says of the 1980 session, “ideas about community and authority from the Summer Seminar with Shaar and Lustig became central to our teaching, writing and living” long beyond their seven years at DS. After moving on in 1981, the Schumans returned in 1984 to lead the seminar on Law, Virtue, and Self-Interest.  They were periodic guests at other summer seminars into the 1990s and into the new century.

David was a passionate and persistent champion for his values. He, as well as most of the faculty and students, believed that co-education was a just and necessary change that was long overdue. We were up against a conservative and equally insistent force on the Board of Trustees. The fight went on after our time there, but David continued to advocate for the enrollment of women and, as Sharon told me, “Eventually he got his way.”

David’s humor was unique. He could be sardonic, ironic, and scalpel-sharp. But he was never mean. His expectations of himself were at least as high as the ones he had for his students.

One spring, I joined his Creative Writing class, which he conducted like a graduate workshop. We duplicated our short stories on the office mimeograph, then wrote comments on each other’s papers and gathered for critique, all the usual fare—except that David’s own stories were part of the mix, too. It didn’t stop him from looking and acting the professor, sitting behind his grandfather’s wooden desk, tilted back in his chair with his head cradled in his hands, elbows akimbo. Brad Edmonson was there, a steady voice of reason. Bill Vollmann arrived, clutching the latest issue of Morbidity and Mortality Weekly, which was often his inspiration. The stories themselves, the insights into the writing process, are all lost in the depths of time. But the mood is clear to me today. All of us—professor, professional, pig killer, pot boy, future literary star—were at once students and colleagues, giving our best to each other’s creative work and expecting nothing less in return.

With no television, and long before the internet, David embraced the Deep Springs penchant for creating our own entertainment, including but not limited to playing bluegrass music in the boarding house, and performing the role of Falstaff’s sidekick Poins in a full-scale production of I Henry IV.  The performance involved almost every member of the community, including visiting faculty Harvey Mansfield, Sr., a real-life advisor to FDR, who played Westmoreland, chief counselor to the king. 

Blue grass in the Boarding House:
David on Banjo 

In Rehearsal: I Henry IV
Leonard Loomis as Prince Hal
Rolf Schelander as Falstaff
David Schuman as Poins

David was also an avid and disciplined athlete. There were no gyms or ice rinks in the desert, so both he and Sharon ran, sometimes with Rebecca in her stroller, more often alone while the other did parent duty back at the ranch. And there was softball.  Student vs. faculty ball games were rare entertainments. In the barnyard playing field, players had to be mindful of the tin water trough at second base and rolls of barbed wire in the outfield. David and Peter found a more regular league in Bishop, an hour’s drive over Westgard Pass.  During one of those in-town games I experienced a personal crisis that made me appreciate David in a new light.

Five days earlier I had given birth to our first child. Peter and I had planned that becoming parents would not change our lives, so I threw a change of diapers into my daypack, nestled the newborn in his car seat, and went to the game with the guys. Midway through, the plan fell apart. Baby Jacob cried, then started shrieking. I tried to feed him. My milk came pouring down the front of my shirt, but the baby would not nurse. Then he pooped; I didn’t have enough hands to change his writhing body on the narrow metal bleachers. My open pack fell through, into the dirt and trash below. With my screaming newborn in my arms I ran to the park restroom to find refuge.

It was cold and dank in there, the cubicles were filthy, there was no clean space to lay the infant down.  David found me leaning against the damp cement wall, completely undone.

“The baby won’t latch!”

David took the frantic infant from my arms and slipped the knuckle of his index finger into the tiny mouth. With a shudder, the baby calmed and began to gnaw. “Let’s go where you can be more comfortable,” David said. “It helps to relax.”

I sat in the passenger seat of our car, took deep breaths and drank the water that David brought me, while he used the hood as a changing table. When he laid my infant securely in my arms, Jacob nuzzled my breast, found my nipple and latched on.  In the peace that followed, David said softly, “Sometimes it takes a while for them to figure it out.” Then he returned to his game.

Carolyn and baby Jacob

When he left Deep Springs, David entered law school, seeking a profession where his intellect and passion for justice flourished. But his erudition and accomplishments can’t obscure what I know he was at his core—a deeply compassionate human being.

Deep Springs College

Brad Edmondson, Student

I have always loved stories. From a young age, all I ever wanted was to hear and tell stories all day.  It’s amazing that I managed to grow up to do exactly that. I am full of gratitude to have earned a living doing something I love, and looking back, it’s clear that this could not have happened without David Schuman.

In June 1976, age 17 and green as a stick, I left my home in Florida to enroll at Deep Springs College. It was quite a leap.  The campus is on a ranch in the high desert of eastern California.

Deep Springs College Entrance

The entire community has fewer than 50 people, and there aren’t any neighbors.  I loved the ranch work and the vast, stark landscapes, but still felt like a bumpkin.  My classmates were really smart, and most of them wanted me to know that. They had read things I hadn’t read. They made connections I couldn’t make, leaving me in the dust. 

All of us took a single class that first summer. We read Plato, Tocqueville and Faulkner and listened to David Schuman and other professors lead challenging discussions about community and authority. Most of the time I just listened. I didn’t want to seem stupid. My mind moved slower and expressed itself later, in writing.

I had a Royal portable manual typewriter, and I loved the feeling I got when my fingers outran my thoughts. The point was to get an argument, any argument, onto the page. I would stay up late to produce first drafts, which I usually turned in without revision.  Like most first drafts, they were awful.  David was 32, early in his teaching career, and it was his job to grade papers and discuss them with us individually. Those one-on-one meetings were when my writing education really began. 

David had a way of pointing out weaknesses and mistakes that actually made you feel smarter. He would identify something in the piece that should be retained, and he would help you see how to rebuild your argument to make it better.  At the end of these sessions, I couldn’t wait to revise.  David was teaching a basic rule, which is that most of writing is rewriting. And he was also teaching me something far more important, which is that my thoughts were good and worth sharing. He inspired confidence.

We learned so much from the Schumans.  “The most important thing I learned from David and Sharon didn’t happen in class,” said a classmate, Paul Michelsen. “They modeled a marriage of equals, and this was something I had not yet seen in my 1960s upbringing.”  Another classmate, Peter Rosenblum, has noticed that many Deep Springs alumni of our era started producing children long before our college-educated peers did.  Peter thinks we took the plunge because we saw the joy David, Sharon, and other young faculty felt while raising their children. He remembers an “idyllic confluence of family, community, and intellectual life that permeated Deep Springs in those years.  David and Sharon were so central to that.”

Deep Springs is exactly one mile in elevation. It gets about eight inches of rain or snow in a year, and there aren’t many trees.  The light on the mountains is hard to describe, the skies are almost always doing something heroic, and when you get a few hundred yards away from the buildings, you are enveloped in perfect silence. David liked to quote Wordsworth and show us how poets took solace from nature, and he encouraged us to do that, too.  “Your time here at Deep Springs may be when you are most intimately immersed in the natural world,” Michelsen remembers him saying. “You can draw on this experience of nature for the rest of your life.”

David was also sly and funny. He was masterful at sarcasm, although he rarely used it on the students.   “He had a perfect theory of Hamlet that was not true,” said another classmate, Michael Pollak.  “He argued in class that Hamlet was a horror story, not a tragedy.  He said that the ghost of Hamlet’s father was an evil spirit who poisoned Hamlet in the ear and convinced him to commit crimes and destroy the kingdom.  We had all just read the play and were freshly dipped in the catechism of Bardolatry. Shakespeare was the greatest, and Hamlet was his greatest play, so if you wanted to be smart, you had to ritually express how deep it was.  And Hamlet was the boy-hero intellectual we all aspired to be.  

“We came at David with our best shots, and he batted us away like ping-pong balls.  There was not a word in that play he didn’t know. There wasn’t an objection to his theory he hadn’t thought of and countered.  He smiled the whole time.  It was a game for him, and we were hopelessly outmatched. After class let out, I caught up with him and asked him whether he thought his theory was true.  He smiled impishly and said, ‘Who can say what is true in literature?’”

David taught writing well, in part, because he was a very good writer himself.  “Education and Solipsism,” which he published in CoEvolution Quarterly (spring 1981), may be the best explanation of Deep Springs ever written.  And his fiction was good, too.  He wrote short stories and read them to us at community meetings. His skill with characters and sharply-observed details still stick with me 45 years later.

I brought my writing to David for three years, and when we said our goodbyes, I knew what writing was and how to do it.  He gave me an enormous gift. 

Law School

Ken Whittaker, Classmate

Dave Schuman is the first memory that I have of a law school class, even though it was before I met him. My memory has faded over time, but this is what I recall.  Our first assignment in Contracts (which I think was the first class, on the first day, of the first year of our law school experience) was to read The Merchant of Venice and to come to class ready to discuss it. The professor began the class with an arcane analogy between his interpretation of something in the play and a principle of contract law (the substance of which I’ve long since forgotten). Then he opened a Socratic dialogue about the play and contract law. At some point he called on Dave (or Dave raised his hand, who remembers?) and Dave, tactfully, in a polite, professorial voice, explained that the professor had not interpreted the play accurately and that the legal analogy was, therefore, off the mark. I instantly felt I had come to the right law school.  I still love that story.

The first conversation I remember having with Dave was at a brown bag lunch arranged by someone at the law school for older, married students. Dave and I bonded immediately because we both had two young children and we had convinced our families to move to Eugene.  Indeed, he never left.  I was secretly grateful to him for making me the second oldest, rather than the oldest, student in our class.  Over time a few of the attendees at that brown bag, including the Whitakers and the Schumans, began to have periodic potlucks, which evolved into food themed potlucks. The food was always good and the conversation better.  After dinner, we would stick a rented kids’ movie in the VCR and we adults would finish off the wine and beer and gossip about law school and life as, or with, law students.

I remember one ironic episode, involving Dave, from our first semester at law school. One of the required courses was Legal Research and Writing, and our first assignment was to write a research memo, the format for which is rather rigid and nonliterary. Much to Dave’s chagrin (I think it was more like shock) he didn’t get a great grade on that paper. He quickly caught on to what the teacher was looking for, and I think his final grade was good, like all his other law school grades. I remember this story only because Dave was such a gifted writer, regardless of whether he was writing a brief, a judicial opinion, a thesis, or an op-ed. Hence the irony.  For instance, I still remember the opening few paragraphs of a law school paper Dave wrote on water law. It dealt with the history of water use in the Owens Valley on the eastern side of the Sierras in California. He described driving through the valley on a foggy day and reminisced about bygone days when steamboats plied a healthy river, without suggesting anything had changed. Then he described the fog lifting to disclose a drastically different environment due to overuse of the water from the river. It was a perfect segue into his analysis of the legal principles that governed the water rights involved.  When I read that opening in a draft of the paper, I realized that I would never live long enough to write that well.

I also remember Dave’s habit of taking “power naps” for about half an hour every afternoon. He would find a vacant bench in the law library stacks, lie down and immediately fall asleep for 30 minutes or so, and wake up refreshed and ready to get back at it.  I envy that skill.

Ken Whitaker, far right

Dave and I kept in touch off and on throughout his distinguished legal career up until the bike accident. He never ceased to be the good guy I met at the brown bag on the lawn during the first week of law school. He was mature without being stogy.  He had a self-deprecating sense of humor and could take and dish out good-natured ribbing. I doubt he was ever intentionally mean to anyone. When I got carried away dissing on some professor or on some aspect of law school, he always seemed to bring a much-needed balance to my perspective.  He loved Sharon, Ben and Rebecca and his grandkids and teaching.  He was the rarest of people, a serious person who did not take himself seriously.

For someone so accomplished he was remarkably unpretentious.  It was long after I got to know Dave that I learned he was a world-class speed skater in high school. And later still, that I learned that he had gone south during the 60s to work on voter registration. I grew up in the Jim Crow south and I am in awe of that courage and sense of social justice.  I cannot imagine Dave ever bragging about anything.  I am sure there are many other impressive things about him that I never learned.

Dave was one of my closest friends in law school. He was juggling parenthood and law school just like I was, and our friendship made it much more tolerable. Although I never took a class from him, I know he was a good professor, because he never made me feel stupid when I asked him simplistic questions about writing or grammar, like “when do you use a comma?” Don’t laugh, I still remember and rely upon his answer, which was: “whenever you would pause reading the sentence.” I hope I remember that correctly, because to this day, that is how I use commas.

I miss Dave and will never drive through Eugene without missing dinner with him and Sharon and Scott and Jane McCleery.  Law school is an intense experience, and that forges intense, lasting friendships. I treasure the friends I made there and miss those who are gone.  If you are really lucky, like I was, those friendships include someone like Dave Schuman.

Judicial Clerk, Oregon Supreme Court Justice Hans Linde, 1984-85

Hans A. Linde, Justice 1977-1990

Judges Rex Armstrong and Henry Breithaupt interviewed Hans Linde[1]  shortly after his 96th birthday in 2020. Armstrong, a former Linde clerk, currently sits on the Oregon Court of Appeals.  Breithaupt, a former Linde student, is retired from the Oregon Tax Court.

Justice Linde first met David Schuman at David’s interview to clerk for him during the 1984-85 court term. The interview took place during an election campaign in which the justice had been challenged by two other candidates. David got the job. Justice Linde won the election. David celebrated the victory with others whom Justice Linde had taught and mentored, including Hardy Myers, then a lawyer and member of the Oregon House of Representatives, and future Judge Armstrong—a group that would become David’s professional colleagues and friends.           

 Justice Linde took into account David’s academic resume and experience, especially his Ph.D. in English from the University of Chicago, which indicated that he had the academic talent, confidence, and discipline to pursue a career of thinking and writing. Justice Linde remembers fondly David’s work as his clerk.

David and Hans

The justice formed long-lasting attachments to his clerks, and David was no exception. Like Justice Linde, David continued in public service after his clerkship. In his scholarly work on the Oregon Constitution, David focused on that constitution as a living document. This work developed the importance of state constitutions championed by Justice Linde, who had restored their power in both his academic and judicial writings.  David’s clerkship was no doubt where the seeds of later work were planted.  Importantly, David understood that the study of the Oregon Constitution was something different from the study of court opinions interpreting the Oregon Constitution.  That distinction, constantly pointed out by Justice Linde, has eluded many judges and lawyers in Oregon.

Justice Linde and his wife, Helen, forged a friendship with David and his wife, Sharon.

Hans and Helen Linde

They very much enjoyed visits with David and Sharon, whether in Salem or Portland, and especially appreciated that David and Sharon came to see them as advancing age made it more difficult for them to travel to see others. Visits were, among other things, chances to appreciate David’s sense of humor—sharp but not raucous.

            David Schuman was one of many lawyers and judges inspired and mentored by Justice Linde. He built on Justice Linde’s work to protect rights and civil liberties.  Without question, David’s teaching, scholarship, and judicial actions reflected that devotion to law and the Oregon Constitution.  Justice Linde was and remains extremely proud of David’s work, his legacy and their professional friendship.[2]

[1] See David Schuman’s tribute to Hans Linde in A Voice for Justice, Ch. 6. —S. S.

[2] Hans Linde died August 31, 2020. —S. S.

Deputy Attorney General, 1997-2001
Oregon Department of Justice, Office of the Attorney General Hardy Myers

Kristen Grainger, former DOJ colleague

As the person charged with drafting the announcement of newly elected Attorney General Hardy Myers’ executive team, I read Dave Schuman’s CV weeks before I ever met him.  At the time, I may have thought, holy cats, what an overachiever.  I may have rolled my eyes, I can’t recall.

A political hack with a bachelor’s degree (barely), I confess to being impressed but mostly daunted by David’s career achievements (English professor, law professor, associate dean) and his multiple degrees (Stanford, University of Chicago, etc.). He was a nationally recognized expert on state constitutional law. He’d even been a champion speedskater at one point.

I resigned myself to the likelihood that David Schuman, MA, Ph.D., J.D., Speedskater, would be full of himself, that he would talk down to me, talk over me or, worse yet, not talk to me at all.  Of all the bad calls I’ve made in my career, this was by far the happiest. Funny, smart David quickly became one of my favorite people, his gunslinger wit as agile and potentially devastating as a cobra strike. Yet, for all he had accomplished, Dave was (occasionally) humble and incredibly nicethe kind of authentic niceness that fosters trust and lasting friendship.

I could tell he’d been a great teacher; he was patient, he listened. When I sent out a press release that inadvertently contained pubic law instead of public law, he refrained from guffawing in my presence. When the department prepared anti-poaching posters that read, “If you catch crabs, make sure they’re your own,” he nicely suggested using the plural crab, i.e., several deer, not deers, unless one was talking about crabs in a hygiene-related context. Which we were not.

Oregon statute requires the Attorney General to appoint a deputy authorized to perform all acts and duties of the Attorney General in her or his absence, stipulating that the AG is ultimately responsible for said deputy’s actions. Beyond that, the statute does not assign a specific portfolio of responsibilities to the Deputy Attorney General.

Door, Oregon Department of Justice

In January 1997, Hardy launched his new administration at a dead run with an enormous and complex to-do list. In addition to the ordinary yet important work of providing legal services to state government, Attorney General Myers filed a massive lawsuit against Big Tobacco. He defended the state’s Death with Dignity law all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court (and won).

His administration oversaw the legal aspects of the state’s (thankfully rare) second execution since 1978; helped respond to the state’s first high school shooting (tragically now not as rare) at Thurston High School; and wrestled, from ballot title to implementation, several complicated ballot measures such as mandatory minimum prison sentences (Measure 11) and two measures to cut-and-cap property taxes (47 followed by 50, the legislature’s attempt to clarify). And as a conscientious steward of Oregon’s body of laws, Hardy introduced law improvement bills every session.


Jack Landau, Hans Linde, Hardy Myers

This is not even close to an exhaustive list—suffice to say, there was plenty of action on all fronts, with David’s fingerprints on most if not all of it.  Although he did not usually involve himself in the day to day advising of state agencies, the Department’s work was divided into six areas of activity, and David met individually with the head of each division every week and participated in a weekly briefing from the Criminal Justice division with Hardy. He read and weighed in on every draft formal Attorney General’s opinion (which, once final, was made public) before it went to Hardy, and he and Hardy discussed all opinions at length before they were approved.

He engaged regularly with the Special Litigation Unit, a small team in the Trial Division structured and resourced to handle particularly complex, time-sensitive, or controversial (read: potentially explosive) cases.  David was also integrally involved with the Department’s work on ballot titles (the top-level language that accompanies measures put before the voters), which is considerable – drafting the initial ballot title, considering comments filed in response to it, and re-drafting, as necessary. The AG also certifies ballot titles and defends them if they are challenged.

The ballot title process frustrated Dave, mostly because it allowed—even incentivized—what became commonly known as “ballot title shopping,” creating a lot of extra work for DOJ. Proponents could submit multiple, similar measures and later choose the version of the ballot title that was most appealing to voters. Proponents could also redraft their measures to evade the arguments opponents raised in challenges to earlier drafts. To Dave, this amounted to gaming the system.

More than merely brilliant, David Schuman was Hardy’s kind of lawyer: liberally educated, a deep thinker; dedicated to the rule of law and to rigorous examination of the tenets and institutions that serve and preserve it.  In the most personal sense, as Hardy himself has said, David was a counselor and advisor of unswerving directness and honesty. Hardy consulted with David on all manner of things, all the time. Their offices were adjoined by an interior door, so the mountain could go to Mohammad or vice versa as circumstances required.

David was a man of rituals. Coffee with one thimbleful of milk, no more, before our daily staff meeting. Lunch was followed by a 15-minute nap taken, always, on the floor of his office.

Somehow Hardy had been unaware of this ritual, opening the door between their two offices one day to find David lying on the floor. Hardy dropped to his knees, seizing David’s wrist to feel for a pulse. David awoke, pulling his arm away, exclaiming, “What are you doing?!”  To which Hardy replied, calmly (for Hardy was always calm), “Terribly sorry. Thought you were dead.”

Simply put, what David Schuman accomplished as deputy AG made Oregon better. Take for example the Tanner v. OHSU case, in which a same-sex couple was denied spousal benefits because OHSU’s policy required them to be married—in a state where (at that time) same-sex marriage was illegal.  Prior to Hardy’s arrival, DOJ had defended OHSU at the trial court level, lost, and filed an appeal, pending when he took office. When the Court of Appeals affirmed the trial court’s ruling in 1998, David was instrumental in persuading the state not to pursue further appeal, to let the judgment stand, thus paving the way for the next chapter in the fight for equal rights for same-sex couples in Oregon.

And it worked. Misha Isaak, one of the lead attorneys in that next fight, said, “As we were planning the litigation to challenge Oregon’s ban on marriage for same-sex couples, we knew the precedent case, Tanner v. OHSU, would be a lynchpin of our strategy.” His legal team even recruited Chris Tanner and Lisa Chickadonz to be a plaintiff-couple in their case.

“We believed their inclusion in the case would communicate to the court and the public the historical weight of the moment,” Isaak said. The court’s decision ultimately striking down Oregon’s ban on same-sex marriage even cites the Tanner case.

David also worked to revolutionize Oregon administrative law, specifically, the way the state conducted proceedings in which people disputed actions taken against them by state agencies. The administrative hearings officers deciding these matters had traditionally been agency staff, not attorneys, and procedures could differ significantly agency to agency. This was problematic and inefficient.

A reform bill had passed both chambers the previous session despite opposition from the executive branch. Gov. Kitzhaber vetoed it on the condition that interested parties (Rep. Lane Shetterly, R-Dallas, chair of House Judiciary; Chip Lazenby, Gov. Kitzhaber’s general counsel; and David) would develop a solution for the next legislature.  So, there was Deputy Dave, parked between a rock and a hard place: state government dug-in on the status quo, and the legislature having none of it. But he managed that tightrope walk with aplomb, protecting the state’s interests without being obstructionist, acknowledging the need to improve these public-facing processes that touched the lives of many. The result was HB 2525.

Governor Kate Brown, a member of the House Judiciary Committee at the time, said, “HB 2525 reformed a system that was broken, inconsistent and not particularly fair.” She added, “The result—a more equitable, consistent, and accessible system of administrative review—is still in place today.”

I am grateful to have met and worked with Dave—the hardest, best job I ever had. After seven years on Hardy’s staff, I worked as a speechwriter, among other things, and there is a Theodore Roosevelt quote that always makes me think of David Schuman: “Far and away the best prize that life has to offer is the chance to work hard at work worth doing.”

Deputy Attorney General, 1997-2001

Governor Kate Brown

I first became acquainted with David Schuman in the mid-1990s when I was serving in the legislature and Attorney General Hardy Myers appointed him Deputy AG. His reputation as a deep thinker and brilliant legal scholar at the University of Oregon law school preceded him; he seemed like the perfect co-pilot for the ever-statesmanlike Hardy Myers.

While some state attorneys general aspire to more of a “top cop” law enforcement brand, Hardy and David immediately got to work on the unglamorous yet critical work of stewardship of Oregon law, protecting the public good through the provision of mindful legal advice to public agencies and continuous, rigorous statutory review, improvement, and clarification.

David’s quiet-seeming and scholarly demeanor belied a vast capacity and desire for human connectionas well as a bone-dry wit. I remember him testifying before House Rules at the invitation of the House Speaker on a bill to permit the Ten Commandments to be posted in the State Capitol.

The chair asked David, who was Jewish, if Jews believe in Jesus Christ, and if he had accepted Jesus as his savior, and David replied, in his usual kind and soft-spoken manner, “Madam Chair, members of the committee, I am more of an Old Testament guy.”

He will be missed.

Law Professor and Associate Dean, UO School of Law

Ibrahim Gassama, UO Law Faculty and Associate Dean

Whenever I think of David Schuman as a teacher, scholar, colleague, mentor, and friend, my mind moves readily to the character of Dr Rieux, the narrator of Albert Camus’ classic novel, The Plague. Dr. Rieux exemplifies the compromise engaged people must make in a world where despite all its horrors, there are more things “to admire in [people] than to despise.” David and Dr. Rieux shared a common commitment to leading by example, to doing their duty with cultivated restraint, without drama or expectations of recognition, and to absorbing the vicissitudes of life with enduring grace and inexhaustible warmth. These qualities buttressed David’s amazing ability to excel in multiple areas of public service as teacher, Deputy Attorney General, and appellate judge. When Camus exhorts us to “Imagine Sisyphus happy,” I think of David.

He joined the faculty at University of Oregon in 1987, just three years after graduating from law school. Ordinarily, that would relegate him to the class of junior faculty—a class I would join four short years later. However, David had already earned a doctorate in English Literature and had also served as a professor and dean. Thus his colleagues never seemed to regard him as a typical assistant professor. There was an easy calm around him that attracted people of diverse backgrounds to his character and spirit. There was a sense that he would not weigh in on a matter unless he knew what he was talking about, and only if his contribution would help elevate the conversation and the community. That quality of restraint helped enormously during occasions in which faculty members found reasons to be outraged. Waiting for David to summarize his take on the conflict of the moment helped sustain many of us through difficult meetings.

One aspect of David’s academic life provoked a little envy. He was a gifted teacher. That is an objective statement. He taught some of the most difficult subjects and routinely received the highest commendations from both students and peers. For that he was recognized with the Ersted Award, the most prestigious university award for distinguished teaching. Indeed, David was so capable and irreplaceable as a teacher that the law school removed a course from the first-year curriculum after he left to become Deputy Attorney General, because no one could be found to adequately replace him. When he later returned to the faculty, he became a mainstay of the newly developed Legal Studies program and taught with grace introductory law courses to hundreds of eager undergrads. For a while, I thought the secret to his success was his perfectly ordered office, structured around an immaculate desk where every object seemed attached to a particular spot by some force of nature. My efforts to replicate this order did not survive even one semester.

It was a signal measure of the respect David commanded that he became Associate Dean for Academic Affairs only seven years after he joined the law faculty. It is not a secret that this is the one job in a law school that is most likely to generate contempt, even enmity, in colleagues. While some seek the position because of the prestige and opportunities it offers, few survive its rigors with their reputation, faith in humanity, or commitment to the educational enterprise, intact. Perhaps because David left after only two years to become Deputy Attorney General, he never displayed the traumatic effects of this position. On the other hand, I found that over the years, various efforts to recruit him to become dean of the law school—a desire that was especially strong among junior faculty—would be met by his sturdy rejections, usually accompanied by his version of the Sherman-esque denial: “I would rather drink (fill in the blank).” I have never doubted for one moment that David would have been a consequential dean of the University of Oregon School of Law.

The respect that David commanded made him the essential choice when crises arose and a steady, empathetic, and judicious temperament was needed. I recall two occasions when he helped the university find its way through painful, divisive events. The first was in 2014, during the aftermath of a horrendous sexual assault allegation involving the men’s basketball team. The UO administrative response was criticized within the university, and the matter quickly became a national scandal. A thoroughly divided community needed a way forward. David graciously served on a presidential panel that investigated the university’s structure and operations dealing with sexual and gender-based violence. The panel’s report helped to make the University of Oregon a leading force for change in how academic institutions respond to such violence against students.

The second occasion was in response to the actions of a law faculty colleague who in 2016 was accused of racially insensitive behavior. The university again sought David’s help, this time in crafting an enduring response to the actions of this faculty member. The almost universal condemnation of the conduct did not help to heal the pain felt by many inside and outside the law school. Further, university efforts to discipline the colleague pleased no one. David was recruited to be part of a group assembled to work for restorative justice.

In both instances, David readily agreed to engage in work that many would consider stressful and thankless, with a high probability of generating substantial personal criticism, if not condemnation. Maybe it was in part because by this time he had served for over a decade as a judge of the Oregon Court of Appeals that he seemed impervious to this stress. What was striking to me as an observer was that David’s approach in the midst of these contentious matters never wavered. He was always the same calm, restrained, industrious, and judicious colleague, ready to disarm tensions with a warmth and humility that signaled to all that even in the worst of moments, it is not a bad thing to be kind.

Retirement from the bench, 2014: Marva, Sharon, David, Ibrahim

Judge, Oregon Court of Appeals

Justice Jack Landau, Oregon Supreme Court

The job of an appellate court judge is a lot of work, especially at the Oregon Court of Appeals, one of the nation’s busiest.  In a nutshell, the judges sit in panels of three and review the decisions of trial courts or administrative agencies to determine whether either committed reversible error.   In each case, lawyers on one side prepare briefs detailing why they believe that reversible error has occurred.  Then lawyers on the other side prepare briefs explaining why the record reflects no such thing.  Upon completion of the briefing, the lawyers appear before the three-judge panel for oral argument, during which they summarize their positions and field questions from the panel.  The panel retires to “post-argument conference,” where the judges review the arguments of the parties, cast preliminary votes, and divvy up the assignments for writing opinions that explain the panel’s decisions.  Each judge then works with a staff of law clerks to carefully review the record, engage in the necessary legal research, and prepare a written opinion for the court.  The opinion is circulated to the other members of the panel, and twice each month the panel meets to discuss the circulated opinions and tally their final votes.  In the course of a year, the Oregon Court of Appeals disposes of upwards of 3,000 appeals.  Those appeals run the gamut of legal issues: contract, tort, workers compensation, criminal, post-conviction relief, habeas corpus, land use, administrative review, juvenile, and family law.  It’s not a job for the faint of heart.

Fortunately for the Oregon Court of Appeals, Judge David Schuman was up to the task.  And then some.  For a number of years, he and I worked on the same panel.  I could not have asked for a better colleague.  David always came to work prepared.  He tended to read his briefs at home or in the Eugene carpool (he used a portable embroidery light draped around his neck so he could read during the dark winter months).  That way he could devote his time in the office to research, writing, and conferring with his staff and colleagues.

David’s approach to his work was always highly disciplined.  His office was invariably ordered and spotless (which our judicial assistant dearly appreciated).  While most of us tended to scribble hasty notes about the cases on the covers of briefs, David always prepared carefully typed-up summaries of the cases.

His work ethic was prodigious.  In his 13 years on the bench, he authored north of 600 opinions.  The opinions themselves were always timely submitted, elegantly written, usually short and to the point.  David was the consummate colleague.  His door was always open (except for a brief nap after lunch every afternoon), and he enjoyed talking through the difficult aspects of a case or a point of doctrine.  Although a nationally recognized scholar of state constitutional law, he never condescended to the other members of the court.  He always approached his work with a sense of humility and good humor.

He and I went to lunch often, at the café in the State Capitol basement, where we would argue points of state constitutional law, compare pictures of our grandchildren, and complain about various afflictions of advancing age (what David called “the organ recital”).  David always ordered the same thing: a “Southwestern salad with chicken”hold the chicken, hold the tortilla chips, hold the cheese, dressing on the side.  In other words, a plate of lettuce.  He would explain that he was in training for the “Tour de Schuman,” an annual cycling event.

David Schuman loved being a judge and often remarked how fortunate he was to be a member of the Court of Appealsto have a role in shaping the law of the state, to work with like-minded (and sometimes, not so like-minded) colleagues, to serve as a mentor for talented young lawyers who worked on his staff, and to make a difference in deciding cases that affect the lives of so many citizens around the state.  Of course, the court, his colleagues, and the State of Oregon were every bit as fortunate.

David Schuman and Jack Landau

Judge, Oregon Court of Appeals

Rick Haselton, Judge, Oregon Court of Appeals

Remarks on Final Sitting of Hon. David Schuman (January 29, 2014)

We at the Court of Appeals are much better with hellos—
with investitures—than goodbyes. That’s because goodbyes are hard. None harder than this one . . . .  It is a bittersweet privilege to acknowledge the last sitting of the Honorable David Schuman as an active member of the Court that he has shaped, graced, and illuminated for nearly 13 years.

Since his appointment by Governor John Kitzhaber on March 19, 2001, Judge Schuman has authored over 670 elegantly wrought, periodically provocative, and invariably intelligent opinions.  The numbers are incredible—and yet merely a hollow echo of what you have meant, and mean, to us—to the Court, whose collegial virtues and aspirations you embody; to the people of Oregon, whom we strive to serve; and to each of us personally.

You have been an incomparable mentor, not just for your own clerks, but for others—for an entire generation.  It is no accident that, when the clerks staged a “Star Wars”-themed skit at one of our holiday parties a few years back, you were depicted as Yoda: wise, a guardian and expositor of hidden truths, patient (for the most part)—and completely, deeply, personally committed to each of them.  Beloved.

And you have been the wry and acute disturber of our (judicial) universe.  The skewer of shibboleths:  As you have taught and reminded us, in our work, there can be no received truths, no absolute or unqualified answers.  Instead, only questions and more questions—a constant, searching consciousness of implications and consequences.  Exciting; sometimes playful; ever principled.

We will celebrate your accomplishments and mourn your retirement at other times and places—though this setting seems most fitting.  But we will never be able to do justice to you as our teacher, our comrade, and most—and best—of all, as our friend.

Judge, Oregon Court of Appeals

Carpool Diaries

Melissa Aubin,  Judicial Clerk

I knew I was fortunate to spend my clerkship with Judge Schuman.  What I didn’t know was that the clerkship came with a 20,000-mile, two-year automotive package.  We commuted together from Eugene (well, Springfield, and more about that later) to Salem and back daily with wonderful others who met us at the morning pick up. 

Among the many complexities of carpool diplomacy is selecting a rallying point to collect the group for the journey each morning.  It had to be safe enough to park a car for a day, free to do so, more or less central to the riders, and an easy place to find each other.  For us, that was the parking lot between Chuck E. Cheese and Target at the Gateway Mall in Springfield.  As Judge Schuman explained at the outset of my clerkship, it was “well lit by the glow of the rat head, we will likely be the only ones gathering at the Chuck E. Cheese before 7:00 a.m., and if anyone else is there, we should probably check to see whether they are trying to escape the animatronic band (and if so, give them a lift).”

Judge Schuman divided the carpool world into chatters and sleepers.  He was always a chatter, saving his sleeping for a post-lunch power nap.  By the time he arrived at Chuck E. Cheese, Judge Schuman had risen at 4:30 a.m., raced against himself on the stationary bike, lifted weights, and read a few New Yorker articles, all of which provided lots to chat about.  Technically a chatter only because I cannot sleep in cars, I was more of a listener with him, waiting every Monday for the weekend’s reviews of movies, bike rides, and restaurants.

The drive was beautiful during certain months, not so much during others.  Judge Schuman taught me to look forward to the Carpool Solstice, a celestial event that falls around Valentine’s Day.  It would be the first day of the year when the drive back and forth to Salem was “not entirely pitch dark,” he explained.  The holiday wasn’t as great for the sleepers as the chatters, but it promised longer days, when you could eventually see huge waves of blackbirds block out most of the sky over the grass seed fields.  He loved them.  “Hitchcock got them all wrong,” he would say, “The birds are beautiful.  It is the dogs we should be scared of.” 

The arrival in Salem took us by the Oregon State Prison, and more birds.  A retaining pond where the prison fence met the road was home to geese and ducks, and to their chicks in springtime.  As a mother led her eight ducklings from the pond across four lanes of morning traffic, Judge Schuman stopped the car, opened his door, and waved down the driver in the oncoming lane to allow her to pass.  “Score one for the fugitives,” he said.

The carpool rolled down a window on Judge Schuman’s world – his dedication to public service in a job miles from home, his warm welcome to all comers, his appreciation for quotidian beauty, and his abiding suspicion of dogs.  I am not sure I became a better driver during those two years, but they continue to make me a better person.

Judge, Oregon Court of Appeals

Mardell Ployhar, Judicial Clerk, 2006-2008

I had the good fortune to clerk for David Schuman at the Court of Appeals from 2006 to 2008.  During that time, I saw that he was incredibly kind and compassionate. Although he was extremely intelligent, and most of his clerks knew very little about practicing law, he treated us as equals.  He also appreciated the great work done by his judicial assistant, Debbie.   At the end of 2007, he gave me a card that said he was looking forward to being my “colleague and co-conspirator” for at least part of 2008. 

Clerk Danielle Lordi, Judicial Assistant
Debbie Rosenberger, David, Clerk Mardell Ployhar

David had a unique process with his clerks.  He was the only judge who used the clerk’s draft as a memo to help him create his opinion, rather than just editing the clerk’s draft and making it the opinion.  I think there were a number of reasons for this.  One, he enjoyed writing.  Two, he was a far better writer than we were.  Three, he was thorough, so by going through the record and writing the opinion, he ensured that nothing was missed.  And the most significant reason might have been that he did not like to criticize other people.  I don’t think he wanted to tell anybody anything was wrong with their work, so it was easier for him to use the clerk’s draft as a memo when writing his own opinion.  If he wound up using a large portion of what I wrote, I considered that an accomplishment.  But he always had a better way of introducing the case clearly, and he always improved on anything I drafted.

One of the best parts of my job was the morning check-in sessions. After David arrived, he would get his coffee and then invite his clerks in to find out how we were doing, update us on what he had going on, and discuss the cases we were working on.  He regularly took time to chat with us, which helped us get to know each other well.  It was also a wonderful opportunity to learn from him.  He had the ability to distill complex legal material into a clear structure.  I can see why he was so beloved as a professor.

When we discussed cases, I saw David’s compassion.  It was important to him that everybody be treated fairly in the legal system.  He did not view himself as superior to others who were less successful in society, and he was not inclined to judge them harshly.

People who did not know David often thought he was very serious, but of course he had a keen sense of humor, and he could make fun of himself.  I recall a time when his carpool decided that he needed to kick out a member who had repeatedly failed to show up in the morning.  He agonized over it because he never wanted to upset anyone.  He was thrilled when that member informed him that she was leaving the carpool.  He laughed and said, “see, this just goes to show, if you ignore a problem long enough, it will go away.”

David also had an incredible work ethic.  I don’t think he ever stayed home because of illness until he had hip replacement surgery.  He also tried to read briefs at home so that his time in the office could be used to draft opinions.  Despite this discipline, he never wanted his clerks to work overtime, and he always made sure we were headed home by 5 o’clock.

I will always be grateful I had the opportunity to work with David Schuman for two years.  I learned a great deal about practicing law, but even more from his example of kindness, compassion, and drive.

Judge, Oregon Court of Appeals

Megan Thompson, Judicial Clerk

I clerked for Judge Schuman from 2008-09, my first year out of law school. The clerkship itself was wonderful: I got to see the inner workings of the court, help draft opinions, and watch Judge Schuman’s decision-making process up close—such a gift for a new lawyer. But it is the years after for which I am most grateful, and the truth is that I got more from Judge Schuman over time than I could possibly have gleaned from one year of clerking.

I didn’t have family or other connections that would open federal clerkship doors for me, but I had Judge Schuman. When I interviewed with a judge on the Ninth Circuit, he hired me on the spot, saying that if Judge Schuman had offered me a job, that was enough for him. Thus one clerkship turned into another.

Judge Schuman always stayed in touch. Through emails and—after I moved back to Eugene—semi-regular coffee and lunch dates, I got career advice, constant encouragement, and a trusted friend who believed in me even when I doubted myself. His opinion meant so much that he was one of the first people I called when facing any career decision. He didn’t hesitate to weigh in on my personal life, either. When I told him over coffee that I’d just closed on my first house, he immediately invited himself over and wandered through the empty rooms with his coffee in a to-go cup, commenting approvingly. I remember laughing a little at my sense of relief—I’d bought a good house!—and feeling similarly reassured when he announced over another cup of coffee that he liked Kurt, the date I’d brought with me to a recent dinner.

Kurt and I were thrilled when Judge Schuman agreed to officiate at our wedding, though a bit thrown when he told us we’d have to write the ceremony. But he invited us over to work on it, and somehow in the course of the evening, Sharon offered to play her violin at the wedding, and it all came together into the most lovely, meaningful event I could have imagined.

Megan and Kurt’s Wedding

Our semi-regular meetings continued. The last time I saw Judge Schuman was a mid-week lunch. I showed him pictures of my kids, and he bragged about his grandchildren (who, I have to admit, seem pretty amazing). He was so proud of his family and so delighted by mine. I am deeply grateful for his friendship, mentorship, and generosity. 


Ben Schuman

50th Anniversary with Family in Italy, 2018


Alycia Sykora and Robert Rocklin

Cycling in Bend

Lava Butte

David, Alycia, Tim 2011

Portland Century

Sam's Shirt

At Justice Linde’s 90th

Birthday Tribute