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State of Oregon

Judicial Selection in the States: Oregon

Overview

News

The Montana House State Administration Committee yesterday approved a bill to require judges recuse from cases due to campaign contributions. Under HB 157 as approved...

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A plan to require Wyoming judicial nominating commission members to be subject to senate confirmation appears to have died. Wyoming s top courts use a...

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This is proving to be an unprecedented year in terms of the number of efforts to either switch from partisan to nonpartisan judicial elections or...

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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.