March 25, 2005
APR. 15: 2005: Frohnmayer Award goes to civil rights litigator Lare Aschenbrenner
2005 Frohnmayer Award goes to
civil rights litigator Lare Aschenbrenner
It may be true that a really good lawyer could persuasively argue either side of any issue. But, in my mind, there is no greater satisfaction than winning a decision based on a position that is consistent with your conscience.
Lare Aschenbrenner, J.D.
Lare Aschenbrenner’s zeal for justice has always placed him in the center of the action.
In the course of a 45-year career, the 1957 University of Oregon law school graduate traveled from Grants Pass to the Deep South and the far North all in the pursuit of equal rights for all.
Although public service lawyers rarely get rich, they, I believe, more frequently than lawyers generally, gain the satisfaction of having genuinely furthered the cause of justice, Aschenbrenner said.
He was appointed Oregon’s first Public Defender during the early 1960s, right after the U.S. Supreme Court handed down several landmark decisions expanding the rights of accused criminals. He represented black citizens of Mississippi during the late 1960s when the rage of the old white power structure was at its peak.
Oregon was in the forefront of a number of civil rights and environmental legal struggles in the 1970s, and so was Aschenbrenner, who co-founded Oregon’s first public interest law firm.
In the 1990s, he led a successful fight for recognition of 226 Alaska Native villages. Aschenbrenner said that, after being treated for decades as little better than ethnically based social clubs, these Alaskan villages won the same status as Indian tribes in the lower 48.
Lawrence A. Aschenbrenner, 74, retired director of the Alaska office of the Native American Rights Fund, will receive the fourth Frohnmayer Award for Public Service at an April 15 banquet in Portland. The annual event, sponsored by the law school’s alumni association, will begin at 6 p.m. at the Downtown Embassy Suites Hotel, 319 SW Pine St.
Aschenbrenner earned both his bachelor’s degree and his law degree from the UO. He was Jackson County district attorney and then Public Defender for the State of Oregon during the early 1960s. He served as chief counsel for the Lawyer’s Committee for Civil Rights Under Law in Jackson, Mississippi during the late 1960s. He became a partner in Oregon’s first public interest firm, Marmaduke, Aschenbrenner, Merten & Saltveit in Portland in 1971.
Since 1976, he has worked on behalf of Native Americans and served as director of the Alaska office of the Native American Rights Fund in Anchorage from 1984 to 2002. He received a lifetime achievement award in 2002 from the Alaska Civil Liberties Union.
Lare met his wife, Katy, a teacher, at the University of Oregon. His children followed in their parents’ footsteps: John JD ’92, Ted JD ’83, and Connie are lawyers. Dan is a teacher.
The Frohnmayer Award for Public Service is given each year in Portland by the UO School of Law Alumni Association. It recognizes a graduate, faculty member or friend whose public service brings honor to the school. Tickets for the 2005 banquet can be ordered through the law alumni events hotline: (541) 346-3970 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. Cost is $75.00 per person, or $40.00 for attorneys and employees of public service/public interest organizations.
A longer story about Lare Aschenbrenner’s key cases as Oregon’s public defender, in Mississippi and in Alaska will appear in the Fall 2005 Oregon Lawyer. Reserve a copy