In Memoriam: Judge Scott O.
Scott O. Wright,
U.S. District Judge
for the Western
District of Missouri,
died on July 11,
2016, at the age
of 93. He received
on September 26,
1979, served as
Chief Judge from
1985 to 1990, and
status on October
|Judge Wright was born in 1923, in a farmhouse in rural Nebraska. When his family lost their ranch during
the Depression, they moved to a farm in Missouri.
When the United States entered World War II in
1941, Wright decided he would join the service after
completing his second year at Central Methodist
College in Fayette, Missouri. He entered training as
a dive bomber in the Navy V-5 program in 1942 and
then served as an aviator for the Marine Corps from
1943 to 1946, patrolling Japanese submarines in the
|After his military service, he graduated with his law degree from the University of Missouri at Columbia
in 1950 and practiced law in Columbia for 29 years.
He was City Attorney from 1951 to 1953 and Boone
County Prosecuting Attorney from 1954 to 1958.
He also worked in private practice at the Howard F.
Major Law Firm from 1950 to 1951, Clark & Becker
from 1952 to 1954, and Brown, Wright, Willbrand &
Simon from 1959 until his appointment to the federal
bench in 1979.||Judge Wright was regarded as unconventional
and innovative, a plain-speaking and sometimes
controversial figure. His decision blocking state laws
restricting abortion rights was heard by the Supreme Court in Webster v. Reproductive Health Services,
and his certification of the Hyatt Regency Hotel
disaster case as a mandatory federal class action
was considered creative. He broke with tradition in
allowing arbitration of cases, oral questions asked
by jurors, and electronic recording testimony.
||Judge Wright was honored with the prestigious
Whittaker Award by the Lawyers Association of Kansas
City in 2006 and the Legacy Award by the Kansas
City Metropolitan Bar Association in 2008.
Judge Wright is survived by his wife, brother, two
stepchildren, six grandchildren, and five greatgrandchildren.
A memorial service is planned for
August 12 at the Charles Evans Whittaker Courthouse
in Kansas City.