Martha Lee Walters (born October 23, 1950) is an American labor attorney and the 43rd Chief Justice of Oregon. She became the first female justice on the state’s highest court in three years when she was appointed in 2006 and the first female Chief Justice when she was elected by her fellow justices in 2018. A native of Michigan, she worked on the Casey Martin lawsuit against the PGA Tour while in private legal practice.
Walters was born on October 23, 1950, in Grand Rapids, Michigan, where she grew up. After high school she attended the University of Michigan, where she graduated in 1972 with a Bachelor of Arts degree. Walters earned her J.D. degree from the University of Oregon School of Law in Eugene, Oregon, graduating in 1977 and earning Order of the Coif. Walters is married to John VanLandingham IV, a low-income housing advocate and mobile home-housing specialist. The couple has two children, John VanLandingham V, a graduate of the University of Chicago, and Cassady Walters, a graduate of Whitman College.
Walters was the founder and president of the Eugene law firm of Walters, Chanti & Zennache. In 1998, she was given the Public Justice Award by the Oregon Trial Lawyers. She served as a delegate to the National Conference of Commissioners on Uniform State Laws and as a member of the American Law Institute. While in private practice, she was a specialist in employment and labor law. She represented disabled golfer Casey Martin in his lawsuit against the PGA Tour to allow Martin to use a golf cart during tournaments.
She was appointed to the Oregon Supreme Court by Oregon Governor Ted Kulongoski and was sworn into office on October 9, 2006, to replace Justice R. William Riggs who had retired. Walters was the first female justice on the court since 2003 when Susan M. Leeson left the court. In 2007, Walters was elected as the president of the Uniform Law Commission, becoming that organization’s first female president. Walters won election to a full six-year term on the court in 2008, and was re-elected in 2014.