Judge Judith MatarazzoMultnomah County Circuit Court Judge Judith H. Matarazzo
Judge Matarazzo was named to fill the vacancy when Judge Clifford Freeman passed away on August 21, 2006. Many know Judge Matarazzo better by her professional name, Judith Hudson, which she used practicing personal injury plaintiff's work as a partner in the firm she helped to found, Gutzler & Hudson.
Judge Matarazzo was born in Tennessee and grew up all over the world. Her father was a university administrator who moved his family at least once every four years throughout her childhood. She went to school in places as diverse as Heidelberg Germany, the Watts neighborhood in Los Angeles and Malibu. Judge Matarazzo regards her experience in moving and adapting to different places and cultures throughout her childhood as having been very positive because of the appreciation she gained for different perspectives of people with varying backgrounds.
After attending high schools in the Los Angeles area, Judge Matarazzo obtained her Bachelor's degree in History and Political Science at Hamline University in St. Paul, Minnesota. At the time, her father was President of Willamette University. Impressed with Oregon and Willamette University on her visits with her parents, Judge Matarazzo decided to move to Oregon and eventually attended Willamette University School of Law.
Judge Matarazzo's decision to attend law school was also influenced by her acquaintance with former Oregon Supreme Court Justice Susan Leeson, who was then a Willamette professor and freshman Oregon Senator John Kitzhaber. Before attending Willamette Law School, she worked for a year on Kitzhaber's staff, focusing on labor relation issues.
After Judge Matarazzo obtained her JD from Willamette in 1984, she began practicing at the Salem firm of Allen & Vick, where she had worked as a law clerk. In 1985 she and Mike Gutzler opened a Portland office of the firm, then known as Vick & Gutzler. She became a partner in the firm in 1991. In 1995, the firm amicably split along geographic lines and the Portland office became the firm Gutzler & Hudson. Judge Matarazzo and Gutzler practiced together as Gutzler & Hudson doing personal injury plaintiff's work until her election to the bench. When asked why she decided to leave her successful 22 year practice with Gutzler, and run for a judicial spot labeled the "thundering herd vacancy" by one candidate because of the nine lawyers eventually on the ballot, Judge Matarazzo explained that she had no idea who else would be in the race when she threw her hat into the ring. Because the death of Judge Freeman came so close to the election filing deadline, candidates had only four days, including a weekend, to get into the race.
Judge Matarazzo was drawn to the opportunity because she enjoyed her work as an arbitrator and mediator.
Prior to taking the bench, Judge Matarazzo's professional activities included serving on the Disciplinary Board and the Practice and Procedure Committee of the OSB, the Board of Directors of the Oregon Law Institute of Law of Lewis & Clark Law School, the Board of Directors and numerous committees of the Oregon Trial Lawyers Association, the MBA ADR Committee and the Gus Solomon Inns of Court. She has also dedicated a great deal of her time to mentoring teenagers through volunteer efforts at Triangle Lake Camp & Conference Center, where she served on the board of directors for a number of years and at Trinity Episcopal Church and the Salvation Army. Judge Matarazzo's passion in this regard stems from her firm belief that "kids need an adult presence in their lives separate and apart from a parent."
Judge Matarazzo and her husband enjoy travel and collecting early American antiques. They try to take a trip to New England each year to add to their collection. They have a son.
Originally authored by Anne Talcott and printed in the May 2007 Multnomah Lawyer
Updated for the Internet in 2012