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. There will be no services at this time. Plans for a physical-distance-memorial are being developed. You may share your memories and contact information for future service details at:


No public services are scheduled at this time. Receive a notification when services are updated.


Joseph Jerome FARRIS

have a memory or condolence to add?

Lorena Garuti

August 4, 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

August 3, 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

August 3, 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

August 2, 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

Gwen Coughenour

August 2, 2020

The Hon. Jerome Ferris was such a humble, generous man. We were fortunate to be invited to his homes in Italy and Jamaica. Jerry was a great host. He made a wonderful meal in Italy for us AND our friends. He even shared his Mother's bread pudding recipe with me, one of my favorites.
Once, when we were flying to a Judicial Conference, Jerry graciously offer me his seat in the first class section. I was very fond of this gracious, first class man. Jack and I will miss him.
Jack & Gwen Coughenour

Richard Dykstra

August 2, 2020

I met Judge Farris in 1973 when, as a new law clerk for another Judge of Division One of the Washington Court of Appeals, he stopped me in the hallway and introduced himself. He invited me into his chambers for a chat, as he did to learn a bit about the new law clerks. We talked a bit and he asked me if I had lived in Tennessee, because he thought he detected a slight accent. Actually I had never lived anywhere near there. I was raised in western Washington and just returned from law school in Boston. Perhaps my “dialect” had gotten lost in my travels between Seattle and Boston.

Judge Farris was always very warm and friendly to the law clerks, even though we were just beginning our careers. I admired his thoughtfulness in his opinions, and the warmth that he showed towards all he met.

He will be missed by so many that had occasion to meet him.

Jo Latcholia

August 2, 2020

Juli and Janelle,
So sorry to hear that your father has passed on. He was a very special friend. Please know I send my love and prayers to you both.
Jo Latcholia

Susan Miller

July 31, 2020

In 1978, I met Judge Farris’ daughter Juli while we were freshmen in college. We became good friends and, in the summer of 1979, I was privileged to spend a few weeks with Juli and her family in Italy and Yugoslavia. I have never, before or since, been so completely taken in and included in another family as I was that summer. Judge and Mrs. Farris, and Juli and Janelle, were a loving family, loving each other, loving their friends and neighbors, enjoying each other and life and adventure. It was such a pleasure to be included. I will never forget it. While that was my only time spent in-person with Judge Farris, my observations lead me to conclude that his greatest legacy is in the achievement, strength and self-confidence of his daughters who he and his wife supported with all their hearts.


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