Hon. Robert J. Bryan, a Bremerton native, earned six varsity letters in basketball and track – two letters during his first year of law school - before graduating from the University of Washington School of Law in 1958. Judge Bryan practiced law in Bremerton from 1959 until 1967, when he was appointed to the Superior Court in Kitsap County. Judge Bryan retired to private practice with Riddell Williams in 1984 but returned to the bench in 1986 when he was appointed to the United States District Court.
During his years as a judge, Judge Bryan also served pro tem with the Washington State Court of Appeals and Supreme Court, and the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals. He has been President of the Washington State Association of Superior Court Judges and the Ninth Circuit District Judges’ Association. Judge Bryan co-authored, with instruction committees, seven volumes and supplements of Washington and Ninth Circuit Pattern Jury Instructions. He was instrumental in converting the Tacoma Union Station to the United States Courthouse, where he maintains his chambers. Judge Bryan served on the Board of the Federal Judicial Center and has taught and spoken at legal and judicial seminars regularly throughout his career, including many classes for new federal judges. His students included current Justices Sonya Sotomayor and Brett Kavanaugh.
He was a founding member and first president of the Puget Sound Inn of Court, which was renamed, in his honor, the Hon. Robert J. Bryan Inn of Court in 2004. In May 2006, Judge Bryan received the Distinguished Alumni Award from the University of Washington School of Law and in September 2010, he received the Lifetime Service Award from the Washington State Bar Association. In 2015, he received the Professionalism Award for the Ninth United States Judicial Circuit.