D. Joe Willis
A graduate of the University of Oregon and the University of Oregon School of Law, Joe served in the Navy before beginning his career in 1971 at Schwabe, Williamson & Wyatt. Throughout his long and distinguished career, Joe has handled hundreds of condemnation cases, trying many of those cases before courts and juries. He has also successfully litigated land use cases involving the validity and application of land use regulations before the Land Use Board of Appeals and in State and Federal courts.
Joe was appointed as the Oregon Commissioner to the National Conference of Commissioners on Uniform State Laws (NCCUSL) in 1978. He was reappointed to the position by five separate Oregon Governors and has since been honored with a lifetime membership. Joe was appointed by the Oregon Law Commission to the Eminent Domain Work Group, tasked with redrafting the state’s Eminent Domain Code.
Joe is a proud and ardent supporter of his alma mater, the University of Oregon, as well as the University’s football team, the Ducks.
Significant Eminent Domain and Property Rights Representations and Reported Decisions
- Dolan v. City of Tigard, Case no. 94-1259 in the Circuit Count for Washington County, Oregon, following remand by the United States Supreme Court. Together with OCA Member with Jill Gelineau, Joe represented the Dolan family. During trial, the case reached a settlement with the city before the trial was completed.
- State ex rel English v. Multnomah County, 348 Or. 417, 238 P.3d 980 (2010), a highly publicized land use and regulatory takings case, described by the Oregonian newspaper as “Oregon’s best known land use case.” Joe sued Multnomah County on behalf of Mrs. English under an Oregon law providing compensation when a change in zoning prevented development. Joe handled this case at every level, including oral argument before the Oregon Supreme Court achieving a recovery of $1.15 million in damages plus attorneys fees and costs to vindicate Mrs. English’s efforts.
- West Linn Corporate Park LLC v. City of West Linn, 534 F3d 1091 (9th Cir 2008); Oregon Supreme Court, S05-6322 (September 23, 2010); U.S. Dist. Court, D. Oregon, No. CV-01-1787-HZ (2011). At issue in this case was the application of Dolan’s rough proportionality standards to the city’s demand that the developer make offsite improvements as a requisite to obtaining a land use approval. The case wound its way through the Ninth Circuit and Oregon Supreme Court. The Ninth Circuit did not extend the principles of Dolan and Nolan to the City’s demand for offsite improvements, although the proposed offsite improvements were not roughly proportional. Joe sought the review of the U.S. Supreme Court, however, the Court declined. In 2012, the Court accepted review of the Koontz case and, as we know, rendered a decision on the identical legal issue with a strong opinion in favor of private property rights.
- Danebo Properties v. City of Eugene, a regulatory takings case in which Joe together with Jill Gelineau recovered a $3.95 million settlement against the City of Eugene on behalf of the developer.
- Molony v. Crook County, in which the Ninth Circuit sustained a jury award of over a million dollars on a civil rights claim against the County stemming from a developer’s unsuccessful attempts to develop his property.
- Oregon State Courts
- Washington State Courts
- United States Court of Appeals, Ninth Circuit
- United States Court of Appeals, Tenth Circuit
- United States District Court, District of Oregon
- United States District Court, Western District of Washington
- United States Supreme Court
- Rotary Club of Greater Bend, Member
- University of Oregon School of Law Board of Visitors, Past Member and Past Chair
- University of Oregon Alumni Association, Member
- American Bar Foundation, Fellow
- Pacific Legal Foundation, Board of Directors