Jessica Karmasek Aug. 11, 2015, 8:27am


SALEM, Ore. (Legal Newsline) - Oregon Supreme Court Justice Virginia Linder said last week she is leaving her seat on the bench.

Linder, who has served on the court since 2007, was the first woman elected to the state’s highest court.

State Court of Appeals Judge Rick Haselton also announced his retirement Thursday. Haselton served 21 years on the appellate court, making him the longest-serving judge in the history of the court.

“Today we learned we will be losing two outstanding veteran judges from the appellate bench,” Supreme Court Chief Justice Tom Balmer said.

“Gini Linder showed great courage in running for an open seat on the Supreme Court in a contested election, and her incisive intellect and deep understanding of public law issues have made her an invaluable colleague.”

Balmer said he will miss Linder.

“I have had the honor and privilege to have served Oregonians as an attorney for 17 years and as a judge for 18 years,” Linder said.

“It is hard to leave the Court -- I serve with wonderful colleagues, I love the work, and the work is profoundly important. But after more than 35 years of public service, it is time for me to move on to the next chapter of my life.”

Linder graduated in 1975 from what was then Southern Oregon State College and received her law degree from the Willamette University College of Law.

She served as an appellate attorney in the Oregon Department of Justice, and was appointed solicitor general -- the state’s top appellate lawyer -- by then-Attorney General Dave Frohnmayer in 1986.

Linder was the first woman to represent Oregon before the U.S. Supreme Court, when she argued and won Department of Revenue vs. ACF Industries in 1994 on an 8-1 vote.

She was appointed to the Oregon Court of Appeals in 1997, successfully ran for an open seat on the Supreme Court in 2006 and was re-elected to that post in 2012.

Linder said she plans to continue to hear cases in state courts as a senior judge.

Under Oregon law, Gov. Kate Brown will appoint successors to the judicial positions being vacated by Linder and Haselton. The people appointed to those positions must stand for election in November 2016, and would serve a six-year term.

Brown said she is “deeply grateful” for Linder’s years of service.

“Oregon has been the fortunate beneficiary of Justice Linder’s decision to dedicate her entire 35-year career to public legal services and the public good,” she said. “She also paved the way for others as the first woman elected to the Oregon Supreme Court without first being appointed by the governor.

“A brilliant lawyer and committed public servant, Justice Linder is the living embodiment our state motto, ‘She flies with her own wings.’”

Brown said since the vacancy will occur at the end of the calendar year, she would begin the appointment process immediately “with the goal of appointing the best and most qualified individuals as expeditiously as possible.”

Details regarding process and deadlines will be announced shortly, the governor said.

From Legal Newsline: Reach Jessica Karmasek by email at jessica@legalnewsline.com.

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