Thomas A. Balmer was appointed to the Oregon Supreme Court in 2001 and has been elected and re-elected four times. He served as Chief Justice from 2012 to 2018. Before his appointment, he was a partner in a Portland law firm, where his practice focused on business and regulatory litigation and appeals. From 1993-97, he was Oregon Deputy Attorney General, advising electing officials and agency heads on administrative and constitutional matters. Balmer has tried cases and briefed and argued appeals in Oregon and federal courts, including the U.S. Supreme Court.
Balmer began his practice at Choate, Hall & Stewart (Boston), served as a Trial Attorney with the Antitrust Division of the U.S. Dept. of Justice, and practiced with Wald, Harkrader & Ross (Washington, D.C.), before returning to his home state of Oregon. Balmer is the author of numerous articles on antitrust, state constitutional law, legal history, and Oliver Wendell Holmes. He has participated in various international legal programs, including lecturing on judicial ethics in Uzbekistan (under the auspices of the United Nations) and working with judges and schools on law-related education in Zagreb, Croatia.
During his term as Chief Justice, Balmer served on the Board of Directors of the Conference of Chief Justices and was Chair of the Civil Justice Improvements Committee. That committee oversaw a broad-based multi-year project that studied and made recommendations to reduce cost and delay in civil litigation—Call to Action: Achieving Civil Justice for All (2016). The report, and later implementation tools developed by the National Center for State Courts, has served as a roadmap for improvements in state courts across the country.