Presiding Judge Paul Crowley is retiring from the Oregon District 7 Circuit Court, which covers Wasco, Sherman, Hood River, Gilliam and Wheeler counties and no one has filed for the position, which was due to appear on the ballot this year.
“The governor’s office this week announced the vacancy and is seeking applications for a gubernatorial appointment,” Crowley said today. Members of the bar in the five counties may submit an Interest Form for Judicial Appointments to the governor’s office. The form has recently been updated and the new form must be used.
Interested attorneys should mail or deliver the form to: Liani J. Rees, General Counsel, Office of the Governor, 900 Court St. NE, Salem, OR 97301-4047. Forms must be received by 5 p.m. Thursday, April 3.
The governor fills judicial vacancies based on merit, the announcement stated. He encourages applications from lawyers with a wide variety of backgrounds and experiences.
Crowley, 55, has served the region for 23 years. He was appointed to the bench by Gov. Barbara Roberts in 1991 and sworn into office Sept. 10, 1991. Voters have returned him to the post four times.
Crowley plans to work part-time for the next five years as a senior judge, assisting with conflict cases and judicial shortfalls around the state. He also plans to offer his services as a mediator without charge for public interest dispute resolution in the gorge, he announced earlier.
Locally, he was instrumental in developing mediation and alternative dispute resolution in the courts.
“If there’s a conflict, there’s almost always a solution,” he said. “Creating quicker, less expensive and more satisfying means of resolving disputes has been one of the most rewarding aspects of the job.”
In 2012, he successfully mediated a new rate formula for the four counties that share financial responsibility for the regional jail and juvenile detention facilities at NORCOR, settling a long-running dispute.
“I’ve spoken to the governor’s office legal counsel and he advised me the goal is to have someone selected by early June — they’re not guaranteeing that will happen — with a view toward that person starting in early July.”
Crowley said a local committee of lawyers will probably review and make a recommendation on the qualifications of applicants, including a qualitative rating of abilities in certain areas.
“It appears to me the governor’s office may do a bar preference poll where the local lawyers get to secretly vote for the applicant of their choice,” he said. “Historically, that’s been done, but the last several years both governors Kulongoski and Kitzhaber have not had bar preference polls. I encouraged the governor’s office to do that. In my case, I was 32 years old when I was appointed to the bench and I won the bar preference poll. But for that, I think I would have had a very difficult time making the interview cut.”
Crowley believes the appointee will run to keep the seat in the November 2014 general election, however, that process could be delayed a year, as was the case when Crowley was appointed. He was appointed less than 60 days before the election, which held over his run until the following year.