Appeals Court: Volpert; Supreme Court: Sercombe

Electing judges to the higher levels of state courts can be a challenge for voters. Judicial candidates cannot talk about how they would rule in specific cases, so races can become a battle of resumés.

Two races on the May ballot will determine a new member of the Oregon Supreme Court and the Oregon Court of Appeals. Each open seat has drawn three candidates.

We were unable to talk with all six. Two in particular made the effort to visit the Rogue Valley early in the campaign, and that goes a long way in a part of the state that frequently gets ignored by the powers that be in the Portland-Salem corridor.

As it happens, our choices coincide with the preference poll of members of the Oregon State Bar.

For Position 6 on the Court of Appeals, our choice is Tim Volpert, a Portland attorney who has made a 30-year career of trying cases at the appellate level, making him intimately familiar with the workings of that court. He is a recognized authority on constitutional law, and has devoted a great deal of volunteer time to teaching constitutional law and history to high school students.

His opponents are James C. Egan, a Linn County Circuit Court judge since 2010, and Allan J. Arlow, an administrative law judge for the Oregon Public Utilities Commission. Both are qualified, but their experience cannot match Volpert's. Egan has been a trial-court judge for just two years, and Arlow's career has been devoted to the complexities of telecommunications law, a narrow perspective for an appellate judge position.

The race for an open seat on the Supreme Court has drawn three attractive, qualified candidates.

Nena Cook is a highly respected private practice attorney and pro-tem judge in Portland.

Richard Baldwin, a Multnomah County Circuit judge since 2001, has a history of supporting legal representation for low-income Oregonians and co-founded the Oregon Coalition Against Domestic Violence, among other contributions.

Timothy Sercombe has been an Appeals Court judge since 2007, and has a reputation as a hard-working, fair and impartial jurist. He is the only candidate with Appeals Court experience, which gives him an edge. He also won the Oregon State Bar preference poll by a wide margin, receiving 748 votes to 494 for Baldwin and 368 for Cook.

We recommend Timothy Volpert for the Oregon Court of Appeals and Timothy Sercombe for the Oregon Supreme Court.

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