A longtime judge heard his last case in Douglas County Circuit Court Friday afternoon, and five Roseburg-based attorneys have applied to replace him on an interim basis.
Judge Ronald Poole, who was elected to the Circuit Court bench in 1984, will officially retire Oct. 31.
Steve Hoddle, Nancy Howe, Charles Lee, Ann Marie Simmons and Julie Zuver have applied with the governor’s office to replace Poole until at least a May election.
Simmons, an attorney with the Umpqua Valley Public Defenders, was the top vote-getter in an advisory poll conducted by Douglas County members of the Oregon Bar Association.
Gov. Kitzhaber hopes to appoint a new judge by the end of November, the governor’s office general counsel Liani Reeves said Friday.
She said the governor will review the candidates’ applications and seek comments from Douglas County members of the bar association.
Kitzhaber also will consult with Douglas County Circuit Court’s presiding judge, Randy Garrison, she said.
Some or all of the applicants will be interviewed by a panel, which will make recommendations to Kitzhaber.
To retain the seat, the appointee must run in the May 2014 primary election.
Simmons received 24 votes in the bar association’s poll. Zuver was second with 18 votes, Lee third with 12 votes, Hoddle fourth with 11 votes and Howe had four votes. Polling ended Oct. 21.
Simmons said she was humbled to be the top vote-getter from her colleagues.
“I think if I am placed in that position I can live up to their expectations,” she said.
She has been with the Umpqua Valley Public Defenders since 2010. Prior to working as a defense attorney, Simmons was a prosecutor in the Douglas County District Attorney’s Office from 1998 to 2010.
She ran unsuccessfully for a Circuit Court judge position in 2010. She said she would run in the May primary if she is chosen by Kitzhaber.
She said Circuit Court judges need to be able to hear a broad variety of cases.
“There’s such a need for cases to be heard and the Circuit Court dockets are very crowded,” she said. “A judge who is sitting really needs to be able to hear all types of cases.”
Lee is in private practice. He was a Douglas County deputy district attorney from 1975 to 1987, and was chief deputy for most of that time.
He said his experience qualifies him as a judge.
“I believe I have a depth and breath of litigation experience which will be valuable as a Circuit Court judge,” he wrote in his candidate statement filed with the governor’s office.
Lee has been on the Roseburg School Board since 1994.
Hoddle is a Douglas County deputy district attorney.
Zuver serves as a hearings referee for the Douglas County Circuit Court. She has previously served as a deputy district attorney.
Howe was raised in Douglas County and began her practice in Seattle. She returned to Douglas County in 2000 to raise her family and opened her own practice in 2004 in Roseburg.
Hoddle, Zuver and Howe were not immediately available Friday afternoon.
• You can reach reporter Betsy Swanback at 541-957-4208 or firstname.lastname@example.org.