Perhaps the most recognizable name in Columbia River basin salmon recovery circles, U.S. District Court Judge James A. Redden, has decided to step to the sidelines.
In a Nov. 22 e-mail to litigants, Redden said he had asked that the lawsuit over the validity of the federal salmon protection strategy be assigned to another judge.
“At our last meeting I indicated that I would step down prior to the filing of the 2014 BiOp,” said in the e-mail. He referred to a Federal Columbia River Power System biological opinion that now is being developed by NOAA Fisheries in official Endangered Species Act “consultation” with federal agencies that operate the Columbia-Snake River Power System.
Redden ruled in May that the 2008/2010 FCRPS BiOp, which was to prevail for 10 years, was illegal and ordered that its legal flaws be corrected by Jan. 1, 2014. BiOps are required under the ESA to evaluate whether federal actions, such as the operation of the dams, jeopardize listed stocks. A total of 13 listed salmon and steelhead stocks spawn in the Columbia River basin.
Redden said he stepped down now to allow the new judge “to review the history of this matter before the 2014 BiOp is filed.”
“I will follow this matter with great interest,” Redden wrote.
The court announced Monday that the case has been reassigned to Judge Michael H. Simon.
“I struck the 2000 BiOp, and the 2004 BiOp, and the 2008/2011 BiOp,” said Redden, who was assigned the case in February 2003. In May 2003 Judge Redden granted motions for summary judgment invalidating the 2000 strategy, which was replaced by the 2004 BiOp. On May 2005 Redden declared the 2004 BiOp arbitrary and capricious. It was eventually replaced by the 2008 BiOp, which was supplemented in 2010.
The long-running lawsuit has pitted a coalition of fishing and conservation groups against the federal government but has also involved tribes, utility interests and power users, irrigators, navigators and others with a vested interest in the fish and/or other river resources.
Simon received his commission to the U. S. District Court, District of Oregon, on June 22, 2011, following a nomination by President Barack Obama on Jan 5, according to the Federal Judiciary Center. The nomination was confirmed by the Senate on June 21. He took over a seat vacated by Ancer L. Haggerty.
Simon received his bachelor’s degree from University of California, Los Angeles, and his doctorate from Harvard Law School in 1981. He worked as a trial attorney for Antitrust Division, U.S. Department of Justice, 1981-1986 and was in private practice, Portland, Ore., 1986-2011.
Redden was nominated to U. S. District Court, District of Oregon, by Jimmy Carter in December 1979 and received his commission on Feb. 20, 1980. He served as chief judge, 1990-1995, and assumed senior status on March 13, 1995.
Judge Redden was involved in private practice in Medford, Ore., from 1956-1972 and during that time served as an Oregon state representative (1963-1969) and as House minority leader (1967-1969). He was chairman of the state Public Employee Relations Board from 1969-1972; state treasurer for Oregon in 1973-1976, and state attorney general from1977-1980.