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William G. East (April 25, 1908 – April 27, 1985) was an Americanmarker jurist in the state of Oregonmarker. He served as a judge on the United States District Court for the District of Oregon in Portland, Oregonmarker, and as a state circuit judge. A native of Kansasmarker, he served in the United States Army Reserve during World War II.

Early life

William East was born in Lecompton, Kansasmarker on April 25, 1908. He attended the University of Oregonmarker in Eugene, Oregonmarker, where he earned a LL.B. degree in 1931. The following year he earned a juris doctorate from the university’s law schoolmarker.

Legal career

After graduation from law school, East entered private legal practice in Eugene, remaining until 1942 when World War II interrupted his practice. From 1942 to 1946 he served in the United States Army Reserve as a captain. After leaving the Army he returned to private practice in Eugene in 1946. That year he also began a two-year term as Eugene's city attorney.

In 1949, East began serving as judge on the Oregon Circuit Court for the Second Judicial District, remaining until 1955. On May 2, 1955, U.S. President Dwight D. Eisenhower nominated him to the United States District Court for the District of Oregon to replace judge James A. Fee who had been elevated to the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit the prior year. East was confirmed as a federal district judge by the United States Senate on June 7, 1955, and received his federal commission the following day. As judge, in 1960 he issued an injunction against a local water district in a racially charged case where the African-American residents of a Parkrose, Portland, Oregonmarker, were discriminated against by the local water district.

From 1964 to 1965 future Oregon Attorney General Hardy Myers was a law clerk for East. In 1964, East made national headlines for ordering U.S. Attorney General Robert F. Kennedy to show why an Oregon lawyer should not be paid for defending a criminal defendant he had been ordered to defend by the federal court. In what Time magazine said was “may be the neatest constitutional argument of the year,” East justified the expenditure under the Takings Clause of the Fifth Amendment to the United States Constitution.

Later life and family

East married Louise Wilhelm, and they would have one daughter named Sarah Elizabeth. On April 10, 1967, he became a senior judge for Oregon’s only federal court. After assuming senior status, he often sat as a federal appeals court judge for the Ninth Circuit on three judge panels.

William G. East died on April 27, 1985 at the age of 77 in Eugene, Oregonmarker, of congestive heart failure. He was buried on May 2, 1985 at Willamette National Cemeterymarker near Portland, Oregonmarker. Louise died December 17, 2001 and was buried at the cemetery as well.

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