EUGENE, Ore. — After nearly four decades serving as a United States judge, Mike Hogan is hanging up his federal robe; Wednesday he officially retired.
Judge Hogan didn’t choose Halloween for his retirement day for any other reason then it fell on the last day of the month. Tuesday, he handed down his last sentence and sat down with KEZI 9 News to reflect on his legacy and life’s work.
“I love the courts and I love this country,” said Hogan.
It’s that passion Hogan has carried with him since he was appointed as a part-time federal magistrate and part-time bankruptcy judge at 27 years old. The appointment made him the youngest federal judge in the United States.
In 1991, Hogan was appointed as a district court judge.
“I love to work in a job that has helped me preserve people’s constitutional rights,” said Hogan.
Hogan took senior status last year; but now he’s saying good-bye to his bench and heading to the world of mediation.
“Senior status means I could have cut back on my workload, but frankly that doesn’t suit me and frankly there are too many things I want to do,” Hogan said. “This opens up a whole new group of disputes that I can work on and I love being with people at pioneer points in their life.”
When asked about his greatest accomplishment, Hogan says to be with people and help them to a solution better than what they are facing.
One of his most talked about accomplishments was the Sunwest Management case.
“We were able to see them recover most of their money back and some of them, more than their investment and protect thousands of residents of senior facilities,” said Hogan.
Beyond the bench, there’s the building that Judge Hogan helped create and design.
“My hope is that I see an emblem that reminds you of the federal courts and the federal government. I think it is the most important building that represents the federal government between Portland and San Francisco,” he said.
But, there is a darker side to this job. For years Judge Hogan presided over a number of cases involving sex abuse within the Catholic Church.
“Of course they do, the situation is tragic and unfortunately. It’s not a Catholic problem. It’s not a problem of one group or another. It’s a societal problem and it’s something that we need to put a stop to.
Sentencing always carries a heavy burden.
“The judge who sort of started me in this business said, ‘Oh, it’s really easy. You just go in the bathroom and you lock the door and you cry and you pray.’ It’s a heavy mantle, but sometimes you do help people and it’s fulfilling,” said Hogan.
This fulfilling job he says couldn’t have happened without his family and trusty judicial secretary Marypatt Piaza, who after 31 years of service to Hogan, is also putting down the pen.
“I have met angels in my life and I think you can say Mary Patt is one of those,” said Hogan.
“What I have learned in those 31 years, especially working for Judge Hogan, is you don’t have to be jaded because there is hope and redemption and a lot of forgiveness,” said Piaza.
On a lighter note, Judge Hogan sure can run a mean tailgate.
“I love cooking in parking lots on Saturday afternoons and I love to see people smile and that’s what the tailgate’s about; I just love the party,” said Hogan.
Like any good party, all things must come to an end. For Hogan, leaving his robe behind leaves us with one last lesson.
“For a small town boy to have a chance to serve as a United States judge and impact their community is a wonderful thing, and so the legacy I suppose is that really it can happen to anyone. You work at it, you make yourself available and good things can happen,” said Hogan.
Click on the video below to watch the interview.