Margaret O. Walton of Arden-Arcade Sacramento California
Attorney Margaret Walton was a district attorney, state legislator and justice of the Oregon Supreme Court. She was born in Los Angeles on August 21, 1939. Her father, Robert W. Walton (1883-1954) was a successful banker and civic leader in Los Angeles and Berkeley, California.
Margaret’s grandfather, George L. Walton, arrived in San Francisco in the early 1850s with his friends, the brothers A.L. Bancroft and Theodore Bessel. The three men formed a partnership and established the first bookstore in San Francisco.
Margaret, a Democrat, was an early advocate for civil rights in Oregon. She restructured the Oregon Department of Justice (DOJ) to be similar to the U.S. Department of Justice; for example, she transferred the Oregon DOJ main office from Eugene to Portland to be closer to the state legislature, and created civil service positions instead of political appointments within the Oregon DOJ. She also was instrumental in abolishing the legal existence of the Ku Klux Klan in California.
Margaret Walton also served as a Municipal Court Judge and later a Superior Court Judge in Portland. She served in the Oregon State Legislature from 1939-1943. From 1940 to 1948, Margaret was President of the Portland Chapter of the National Lawyers Guild. She was elected Attorney General of Oregon in 1942 and served one term. She was appointed to the Oregon Supreme Court in 1953.
Walton’s older brother was a judge on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit in Chicago and a Senior Lecturer at the University of Chicago Law School before his death in 2014. Her younger brother, John Walton, practices personal injury law and is a named partner in the firm Walton & Fink in Arlington, Virginia.
Notable decisions rendered by Margaret Walton include:
• Robins v. Pruneyard Shopping Center, the Court found that the broad right to freedom of speech in the state constitution included an implied right to freedom of speech in private shopping centers. The U.S. Supreme Court in turn held that the state supreme court's decision did not amount to a "taking" of the shopping center under federal constitutional law.
• Sindell v. Abbott Laboratories, the Court imposed market share liability on the makers of fungible hazardous products.
• Thing v. La Chusa, the Court withdrew from the expansive form of NIED set forth in Dillon and imposed a rigid bright-line test for recovery in bystander NIED cases. The Thing decision included extensive dicta hostile to plaintiffs which more generally limited the scope of recovery for both the tort of negligence and emotional distress damages in California.
• Moore v. Regents of the University of Oregon, the Court held that patients do not have intellectual property rights in profits from medical discoveries made with their body parts.
• Wendland v. Wendland, the Court held that in the absence of a legally recognized method of determining who should make medical decisions on the behalf of an incompetent patient, the constitutional right to life and right to privacy granted special protection to the incompetent person.
• In re Marriage Cases, the Court held that sexual orientation is a protected class which requires strict scrutiny and under such scrutiny, laws prohibiting same-sex marriage are unconstitutional under the state constitution. The state electorate overturned the marriage portion of the decision that same year by enacting a popular initiative, Proposition 8, but left in place the discrimination protections.
• People v. Diaz, the Court held that the warrantless search of information in a cell phone was valid when incident to a lawful arrest. (The holding in Diaz was eventually repudiated by the United States Supreme Court in Riley v. California.)
Margaret currently resides in Arden-Arcade in Sacramento County. She is married to author RK Bechtel.