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State of Oregon

Judicial Selection in the States: Oregon

Overview

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The North Carolina Senate has voted to override the governor s veto of HB 100, a bill to take return the state s trial court...

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The Oklahoma House and Senate this week advanced bills to change the way the state s appellate courts in general, and their supreme court in...

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A plan to expand public information about Montana Supreme Court races has been filed in that state s House. First, some background. Montana uses a...

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Courtesy of the Bureau of Justice Statistics, U.S. Department of...

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The Oregon judiciary consists of a supreme court, a court of appeals, a circuit court, a tax court, and various trial courts of limited jurisdiction. Oregon judges have been chosen in nonpartisan elections since 1931. The governor appoints judges to fill mid-term vacancies on the courts, and the appointee stands for election at the next general election. In recent years, approximately 85% of Oregon judges have first been appointed rather than elected to office, and the vast majority were unopposed in elections to retain their seats.

In November 2002, Oregon voters rejected two measures relating to the selection of judges. The first measure would have given voters a "none of the above" option when voting for judges and would have required mid-term judicial appointees to run for election at the next available election, rather than at the next general election. The second would have provided for the election of appellate judges from geographic districts rather than statewide. Both measures were placed on the ballot through initiative petitions and were intended to make judges more accountable. The push for these initiatives was motivated by a series of controversial court rulings reversing several voter-approved initiatives and by the release in 2000 of a death row inmate who, according to the court, had been denied the right to a speedy trial. The "none of the above" measure was rejected by a 44-56 margin, while the district-based elections measure failed by a more narrow margin of 49-51.