Joseph Jerome FARRIS

March 4, 1930 - July 23,2020

The Honorable Joseph Jerome Farris of the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, died peacefully in his Seattle home on July 23, 2020, four months after his 90th birthday.

Judge Farris was born in Birmingham, Alabama on March 4, 1930. He earned a Bachelor of Science Degree with department honors in mathematics at Morehouse College in 1951. In 1948 he became a member of Alpha Pi Alpha fraternity at Morehouse College where he formed many friendships that lasted throughout his lifetime.

Upon graduation from Morehouse, Joseph Jerome worked as a Radar Instructor at Keepler Air Force Base in Mississippi until he was later called for active duty reporting to Fort Monmouth, NJ. in March of 1952 From his youth, family has always been paramount in Jerome's life, and the tragic and untimely death of both of his young parents led to his honorable hardship discharge (1953) to help his elder sister Marian to care for his two younger siblings Joan age 16 and Julian, age 6.

In 1955 Jerome, as he liked to be called, graduated from Atlanta University with a Master of Social Work Degree, and, with family matters well in hand, moved to Seattle where he worked as a probation officer and while he attended law school. He earned his Juris Doctor Degree at the University of Washington, where he was a member of the Law Review, the Oval Club, served as President of the Law School Student Body, and he became a member of the Order of the Coif.

After graduation, he stayed in Seattle and began working for the law firm of Weyer, Roderick, Schroeter and Sterne. Within five years he and Leonard Schroeter started Schroeter and Farris, their own firm. It was during that time that Jerome married Jean Shy, a Spelman College graduate (‘51) he’d met while attending Morehouse College. Their family eventually grew to include two children, Juli and Janelle. During these years Jerome taught Sunday School classes and remained active in many civic and fraternal organizations including being the founding member of the Seattle Chapter of the Alpha Omicron Boule of Sigma Pi Phi fraternity.

In 1969 he was appointed as a Judge on the inaugural Washington State Court of Appeals, Division I. There, Judge Farris was unanimously elected the first presiding Chief Judge of the Court of Appeals. He served on the court for ten years, when in 1979 he was appointed to the United States Court of Appeals, 9th Circuit, by President Jimmy Carter.

Judge Farris served as the Chairman of the Executive Committee of the Ninth Circuit Judicial Conference in 1989. He is a past president of the University of Washington Board of Regents, on which he served for 12 years. From 1996 - 2005 he served as a member of the Board of Visitors for Harvard University’s Law School. He also served as a member of the Board of Trustees of Morehouse College from 1999 - 2014. And he recently served two terms on the Judicial Wellness III Committee for the Ninth Circuit.

He is a former trustee of the Seattle-King County Bar Association and former Chairman of the Washington Council of the National Council on Crime and Delinquency. Over the years, the Judge was also an active member of the following: The University of Washington Law School Foundation, the Governor’s Conference of Library and Information Services, the Seattle Youth Commission, the King County Mental Health-Mental Retardation Board, and a delegate to the White House Conference on Children and Youth. He has served on the boards of the Seattle Urban League, Seattle Opportunities Industrialization Center, United Way, and the Totem Council for Girl Scouts of America.

Judge Farris completed two terms of service on the United States Supreme Court Judicial Fellows Commission and one on the United States Judicial Conference Committee on International Judicial Relations. He is a past Chair of the Fellows of the American Bar Foundation and a member of the Senior Lawyers Division Council of the American Bar Association, a former secretary of the American Bar Foundation’s Board of Directors and a former Chairman of the Appellate Judges’ Conference of the American Bar Association.

Throughout all of these accomplishments, Judge Farris held a love of life, family, and adventure. He traveled extensively and two of his favorite places to travel were his homes in Florence, Italy and Montego Bay, Jamaica. His life was filled with great friends from around the world, continuous learning, a quick wit and humor. He was predeceased by his parents, William Joseph and Elizabeth Farris, his wife, Jean Shy Farris, sister Joan McTeer, brother Harold Julian Farris and nephew William McTeer. He is survived by his devoted sister Marian Hatch, sister-in-law Pauline Mansfield, daughters Juli and Janelle Farris, and a host of nieces and nephews.

In lieu of flowers, memorial gifts may be directed to Morehouse College, or the University of Washington Foundation Law & Justice Scholarship Fund.

A celebration of life is anticipated in winter 2020 or spring 2021. You may share your memories and contact information for future service details at:


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Joseph Jerome FARRIS


Tyler Johnson

18 septiembre , 2020

Judge Farris was wonderful person and I am deeply thankful to have had him in my life. I enjoyed his always enjoyable communications initially through his friendship with my Parents. Interactions were always positive, good humored and sprinkled with excellent advice. As I grew older I was fortunate to experience him as a wonderful teacher and am appreciative of our friendship. The opportunity to work for him as an extern was a joy and great memory that I have drawn upon for the many years since. He had an amazing life; was a personal inspiration to me and I will miss him.

Frances Carr

13 agosto , 2020

Jerome Farris - a lovely human being. He was a very instrumental force and mentor to my husband, Luther Carr, when he became a student athlete at the University of Washington in the mid 1950s.
He always stressed academic excellence and high expectations.

Jerome Farris also had great civic leadership skills. He became the first Black president of the Seattle Junior Chamber of Commerce, WA State (JAYCEES) during a time of Race relation building in the country. 1960s.

Carrie Hamilton

9 agosto , 2020

I have so many wonderful memories of Jerry. He was very important to my family and we all loved him dearly. I remember loving his voice and sense of humor and listening to his engaging stories - he was a master storyteller. I remember going to the horse farm in Centralia and playing with Juli and Janelle. It seems there was no major family event that Jerry and Jean were not a part of. Jerry remarried my parents on their 50th wedding anniversary and I remember my dad crying. Jerry had a remarkable life and I was so privileged to have known him.

Carrie Hamilton (Quigley)

Harry Thomas

8 agosto , 2020

I met Judge Farris not long after he started his practice with Len Schroeter and I was an arrogant young man headed down the wrong path. He evidently saw something in me that I didn’t see in myself. After studying my case, he “hit me upside the head” with some “tough love” and proceeded to successfully negotiate a plea deal and a deferred sentence with conditions. The most difficult of the conditions required that I voluntarily turn myself into the King County Jail for thirty weekends in a row. Time after time I had to go downtown and check into the jail to face unknown terrors for the next two days then the next week do it all over again. In the fullness of time, all the remaining conditions were met and Judge Solie Ringold accepted our request to close the case with a finding of “not guilty” and expunge the record of any wrongdoing.

Thirty-six years later, his honor officiated at my wedding. My wife and I were in the process of scheduling a meal with Judge Farris to celebrate our 20th anniversary when we were all shut down by the virus. Truly a great man.

Harry Thomas

Frederick Kaplan

8 agosto , 2020

I didn't know when Judge Farris hired me as his law clerk in 1977 that it would lead to a personal and professional relationship that would change my life. But he immediately took a fatherly interest in me, teaching me not just to be a good lawyer but to be a good man. As many others can attest, he was always a willing and cheerful mentor to younger people and would go out of his way and in fact take great pains to help them succeed. What sticks with me, when I reflect on his passing, is the the time in 1994 when Judge Farris held my baby son with such joy and tenderness. Something was transmitted, I think, as that boy, Thomas Kaplan, is now a student at UW Law School.

Jennifer Farris

7 agosto , 2020

Jerome is my uncle and I love being his niece. Present and past tense equally. I am blessed to have enjoyed several years under this title. After my father's passing, i realized how strong Gene's were when I saw him in person. It was nice to be able to capture their similar facial gestures, little nuances in their shared posture and manner in which they both moved their eyes left to right before telling a story or even delivered small pauses before responding to a question. I'm sure he did not even realize they both did those things; but I did. I have no regrets in how I enjoyed his last years on this physical plane. My memories are photographic and solid. They won't fade. When I travel I will always think of him just as when I smell chocolate, I will also think of him. :) It was and is an honor to share the J. Farris with him.

Lorena Garuti

4 agosto , 2020

My husband and I had the privilege of being introduced to Judge Farris years ago during one of his stays in Florence and ,since then, we have had the honour of having Jerome among our friends. Our sons and we all simply loved listening to him talking about his job, his youth,his beloved daughters and the many episodes of his life,
We will miss him, a real gentleman,we will miss our chats and laughs at dinner here with other friends and relatives he was always happy to meet .
Have a good journey dear Jerome, you will remain in our hearts forever.
Lorena, Orville ,Nicola Fabio and Federica.
Modena (Italy)

Mike Lude

3 agosto , 2020

This exceptional man was a FRIEND and mentor to me from the moment that I was appointed Director of Intercollegiate Athletics at the University of Washington in March 1976 until the day of his death. My wife Rena and I were so fortunate to have a most wonderful relationship with this fantastic individual.. Judge, was a person that I could call and without any delay go see for advise and counsel. As a member of the board of regents , he was always a strong supporter of me and my professional philosophy. Judge, traveled often on the Husky football team plane adding class and dignity to the overall traveling party. Judge, was so generous in his treatment of Rena and me. We spent two weeks at his Jamaica home as a recipient of a retirement gift from the Judge to Rena and me. To say that I will miss this sensational man and FRIEND is a gross understatement. Mike Lude

Michael Jerome Farris

3 agosto , 2020

"The secret of action lies in duration", and my Uncle Jerome used his wisdom and sharpness to carve out a good life for himself and his family. I value the lessons he modeled for us, and the focus he cast upon his ideals. Visualizing him as a ship, and the years as rippling in his wake, he has been something wondrous to behold. The good thing about love is that we can send it with him and keep it for ourselves as well. The connections remain and keep us attached to one another. -- M.J. Farris, namesake, and nephew.

Pauline Mansfield

2 agosto , 2020

It is so hard to put into words the impact of the loss of someone who has been such a special part of my life. Jerome, my brother-in-law, always treated me like a sister. I enjoyed so much our talks and the many humorous family stories he shared with us. The memory of them will always be a treasure. Jerome lived a great life and now he rests in perfect peace. I will miss you, Big Brother J. "Little Sister" Pauline


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