Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Oregonian editorial board makes lousy choice for Supreme Ct endorsement;Hallman is the better choice

The editorial staff at the Oregonian didn't do their homework on on this endorsement of Virginia Linder:

All three candidates for the open seat on the Oregon Supreme Court say they would diversify the bench:

Jack Roberts says the court needs someone with political experience, like him.

W. Eugene "Gene" Hallman says the court needs someone outside the Willamette Valley, particularly a private practice lawyer like himself.

Virginia Linder says the all-male court could sorely use some gender diversity.

All three are right. But Linder, an experienced judge on the state Court of Appeals, is the most qualified of the three. Voters should elect her without hesitation. They also should keep Hallman in mind for the future. The well-respected Pendleton lawyer should be a top candidate for the next open seat or gubernatorial appointment.

Linder has a long history in the trenches of Oregon public-sector law(emphasis Carla). She clerked for the state Department of Justice as a law student at Willamette University, then stayed on after graduation. She rose swiftly through the ranks and became solicitor general, arguing complex cases before the state Supreme Court and U.S. Supreme Court.

Her work got noticed. In 1997, Gov. John Kitzhaber appointed her to the state Court of Appeals.

I'm sure that Ms. Linder is a well qualified jurist. But her experience is like that of almost every other member of the Oregon Supreme Court: heavy doses of practicing law in the public sector and judging in the public sector. While having a woman on the bench seems like a reasonable call for diversity to some, real diversity is having jurists on the Supreme Court who hail from different legal backgrounds and can bring new perspectives to the Court.

The person most likely to bring that strong background is Gene Hallman.

Hallman brings a depth of real world legal familiarity with him to his candidacy. Hallman has 30 years of legal experience as an attorney in private practice as an appellate and trial lawyer. He's tried over 300 cases all across Oregon and has stated a desire to bring efficiency to the Oregon Supreme Court.

With all due respect to the other candidate, Jack Roberts, his background his highly political. The Oregon Supreme Court should never be a body politic--influenced by heavy corporate representation. Courts aren't surrogate legislatures. They exist to interpret the law.

Gene Hallman has been endorsed by a wide variety of Oregon organizations and individuals. He's the natural choice to bring diversity and real world experience to the Oregon Supreme Court.