By editorial board • 

Miller, Fredrick leading choices for judge seat

Voting for a circuit court judge position can prove challenging. Unlike in executive or legislative elections, there is no lengthy menu of issues to debate, and voters’ predisposed political leanings don’t provide direction in the mostly apolitical judge races.

So we often consider experience and support from within the legal system as keys to decide who’s best fit for the job.

With five candidates on the May primary ballot for judge Position 2 in the 25th District, it’s almost certain the race will lead to a November runoff. We believe local attorneys Carol Fredrick and Lisl Miller rise to the top of the five candidates. 

As a criminal defense attorney, Frederick is often involved in high profile cases. But it’s her work behind the scenes that makes her resume impressive. That includes being a member of the Evidence Based Decision Making Policy Team. In 2011, Yamhill County was one of seven nation-wide seed sites to begin phasing in the EBDM Initiative. Fredrick and others have since implemented a system that aims for better results in non-violent cases for the accused, the victims and the community. 

From her work as a judge pro tem, Fredrick has gained experience on less extreme cases compared to her criminal work. She understands the nuances of small claims cases that seem minor in the grand scheme, but are still important and deserving of proper vetting from those involved. Service as a drug court judge and with the Justice Alliance and CASA contribute to a well-rounded, experienced candidate in Fredrick, whose demeanor, thoughtfulness and community ties make for a great candidate.

Miller is well-respected by her peers, as shown in the local bar association preference poll, in which she earned the most votes. A deputy district attorney in the county for more than a decade, Miller makes decisions based on what’s best for society and justice. She knows intimately the effect crime has on large societal issues and smaller family dynamics. She chairs the county’s Multidisciplinary Child Abuse Team and has vast experience in juvenile cases.

Some have pointed to the number of former DAs currently on the bench. That doesn’t matter much to us. Sound judgment and decisionmaking are skills that transform to all corners of the legal system, which is just what Miller would bring.

The other candidates are Jennifer Chapman, Mark Lawrence and Mark Pihl.

Chapman’s experience is thin in the justice world, having served mainly as a union lawyer. She’s spun that as a positive feature on the campaign trail, citing civil experience.

It’s the second candidacy for Lawrence, whose principles led him to run a campaign without accepting any money. He’s experienced as both a DA and defense attorney. He has a clear vision of what makes a good judge, referencing the traits he respects from current and past Yamhill County judges.

Pihl has an impressive background in the legal system, including work as a defense attorney and seven years as a judge pro tem. His poor showing in the bar poll perhaps relates to him living outside the county — he practices in McMinnville but lives in Lake Oswego. 

Having five respected candidates for a judge seat is a blessing for voters. With a second vetting process likely to occur with a run-off, it’s Miller and Fredrick who bring the most to the table. 

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