The incumbents are widely respected and a credit to our courtsOf all the items on the Oregon primary election ballot, the choices that are the most opaque are the election of judges. Unless we are lawyers, very few of us have an insight into the appellate courts.
On the ballot that you will receive this weekend, there are three contested judicial races: Two for the Oregon Supreme Court and one for the state Court of Appeals.
Supreme Court Justice William Riggs is challenged by Circuit Court Judge Rudy Murgo of Pendleton. Supreme Court Justice Rives Kissler is challenged by lawyer James E. Leuenberger. And appeals court Judge Robert Wollheim is challenged by Bend lawyer Phil Brockett.
Riggs is completing his first term on the state's high court. Prior to that he was a Multnomah County Circuit Court judge for ten years. Murgo's main argument for his election is that Eastern Oregon ought to have representation on the Supreme Court.
Rives Kissler was appointed to the high court by Gov. Ted Kulongoski after serving as a court of appeals judge for four years. His appointment gained headlines because he is the first openly gay supreme court judge. Leuenberger's candidacy seems to be largely motivated by that fact. Leuenberger has been attorney to Lon Mabon of the Oregon Citizens Alliance. Most of Leuenberger's experience was gained in Idaho, where he was a deputy attorney general.
Justice Kissler describes himself as a "conservative" jurist. His devotion to public service is unabashed. Significantly, Kissler's reelection is endorsed by the Association of Oregon District Attorneys and Crime Victims United.
Judge Wollheim's major concern is access to the courts. "Winning matters," he says, "But more important is the right to be heard." He is widely endorsed by other jurists and lawyers. His challenger, Phil Brockett, is an intelligent lawyer and has a broad background in corporate law.
We urge the reelection of justices Riggs and Kissler and Judge Wollheim. These are all highly competent jurists. They are a credit to our state and its judicial branch.