Wiles ready to sit on the bench
Ladd Wiles was quick to announce his candidacy for Position 4 on the Yamhill County Circuit Court bench in the Tuesday, May 20 primary election.
The local deputy district attorney stepped forward last September, on the first day candidates could file for the office being vacated by Cal Tichenor, who is retiring Dec. 31.
Wiles will be opposed by McMinnville defense attorney and former Yamhill County Deputy District Attorney Mark Lawrence, who announced his intention one day before the March 11 filing deadline.
In order to claim the seat outright, one of the candidates must secure a majority of the votes cast next month. Otherwise, they’ll meet again in the November general election.
A major part of Wiles’ campaign strategy was to immediately file for office and make his intentions known.
“I knew when the day was,” Wiles said. “I was watching for that day. I had my objectives planned out.”
Wiles said many prosecutors advance to the bench.
Presiding Yamhill County Judge John Collins is a former local district attorney. Cynthia Easterday is a former deputy district attorney. Tichenor, who also worked as a deputy district attorney, prosecuted the high profile Lacy Robancho murder case. She died in April 1998 at the hands of Jeffrey Sparks, now on Death Row at the Oregon State Prison. Collins presided over the trial.
“Prosecutors become so familiar with the court process,” Wiles said. “You see it every day. I think it’s a natural progression, from being a prosecutor to being a judge.
“I’ve always thought, ‘That could be me, that should be me. I should be on the bench, making positive decisions.’”
Wiles and his wife, U.S. Attorney Amanda Marshall, live in McMinnville with their three sons. Wiles said Yamhill County has been a wonderful place to live.
One reason he wants to be a judge is to serve the community.
“Strong courtrooms can make strong communities,” Wiles said. “As a prosecutor, I have a good foundation for protecting and serving the interests of the public. I have contact with citizens.”
He continued, “What happens in court can make a difference in a community ... a positive difference. I have the experience, judgment and legal knowledge to make a strong contribution.”
After passing the Oregon bar exam, Wiles entered private practice in Coos Bay, then joined the Coos County District Attorney’s Office a year later.
After three years, Wiles left to take a job on the legal staff of Mericom Corp., a wireless consulting firm in Wilsonville. Missing courtroom work, he became a deputy district attorney in Polk, then in Yamhill County.
“I have the experience to do the job and do it well,” Wiles said. He has prosecuted cases from petty theft to murder.
He was lead prosecutor during the recent Xavier Wolfgang murder trial. The defendant was found guilty and sentenced to life in prison for killing a Tigard man on the victims rural Sheridan property.
Wiles pointed to his experience in the areas of child support enforcement, juvenile cases, post-conviction release and civil cases, in addition to a period of time in which he was in private practice.
“No one can say they’ve done it all, but I have a broad range of experience, a good range,” Wiles said.
He said it has all led him to understand that a judge has to make fair and impartial decisions, treat defendants and victims with dignity, listen to both sides of a story and rule, knowing the law will prevail every time.
“I am willing to listen to both sides and give everyone a fair shake,” Wiles said.
He describes himself as a fair and ethical individual, with a rationality that is expressed with the proper temperament.
Born in Salem, Wiles attended Salem schools through his freshman year at Sprague High, then graduated from Churchill High, after his parents moved to Eugene.
He earned a bachelor’s degree in political science at the University of Oregon, then enrolled at the Northwestern University School of Law at Lewis & Clark College in Portland.
Wiles has good memories of being on the high school debate team for four years and debating in college for four years. Experience as a debater convinced him that law school was in his future. He said he expected to be a lawyer, and beyond that, a trial lawyer.