On Monday, Circuit Court Judge Barbara Haslinger's docket included a litany of DUII cases, a sex abuse case, as well as a credit card fraud and identity theft case. She'll be leaving all that behind and stepping down after this election cycle.
With her docket being such a mixed bag, we believe that Thomas "TJ" Spear is the best-equipped candidate to take over her position on the Deschutes County Circuit Court. Spear, who was born and raised in Oregon, served as an officer in the U.S. Navy aboard attack submarines and worked in the Yamhill County District Attorney's office prior to taking a position with the Deschutes County DA's office in 2000. He moved on to private practice with Bend's DeKalb and Associates, trying family law cases, but he also boasts experience with patent law. Even without that sort of background, he's served as circuit court judge pro tem for seven years, a credit that's difficult to refute.
Randy Miller, Spear's opponent in the race, also comes from a military background—as a Marine—and worked as a police officer in Sunriver before becoming an attorney. He is friendly and holds a solid admiration for the importance of the law. With a background predominately in civil law, he said that makes him the best choice; given the number of judges adept in criminal law who currently serve, he believes his knowledge-base helps diversify the circuit court bench. It is a valid argument, but we believe that Spear's experience achieves the same end.
Moreover, an Oregon State Bar preference poll backs up our support: Spear garnered 139 votes, with Miller supported by 62 votes. Each candidate noted that an ever-developing set of skills and an evolving philosophy of law is imperative to assume the position that Haslinger is leaving. We just believe Spear's further along in that development, solidifying him as the best candidate to take position 5 on the Deschutes County Circuit Court. (Steven Kurzer withdrew from the race in March, but his name will still appear on the ballot.)