Skip to Content

Gov. Brown to fill retiring Judge Forte’s seat by appointment

Deschutes County Courthouse
KTVZ file
Deschutes County courthouse

(Update: Gov. Brown hopes to make appointment by retirement date)

Otherwise, court seeking new judges would have vacancy until November

SALEM, Ore. (KTVZ) -- Although an election to fill the seat of retiring Deschutes County Circuit Judge Stephen Forte is coming up in May, Gov. Kate Brown announced Friday that she plans to fill the vacancy by appointment in coming weeks.

Forte had announced his plans to not seek re-election and retire from the full-time position several weeks ago.

Forte more recently announced his last day would be Feb. 29. That's less than two weeks before the March 10 candidate filing deadline for the May primary election. At this point, Bend attorney Alison Emerson is the only candidate for the judgeship, having filed her candidacy on Dec. 20.

"The governor thanked Judge Forte for his dedicated judicial service," Brown's announcement said.

The governor's press secretary, Charles Boyle, said, "The governor hopes to announce an appointment by the time of Judge Forte's retirement date, barring any unforeseen developments."

Last summer, after Deschutes County Circuit Judge Michael Adler announced his retirement, the governor's office interviewed and vetted a list of candidates provided by Oregon State Bar attorneys and appointed Bend attorney Alycia Sykora to the position in September. So far, she is the only candidate to file for that position in the May primary as well.

The governor's office said Friday that "Governor Brown will make an appointment for the current vacancy from the list of candidates who applied and were interviewed previously."

Along with Emerson, the others on the Oregon State Bar list include Philip Anderson, Alison Hohengarten, Karen Stanley, Owyhee Weikerl-Magden and Joel Wirtz.

Comments on any of the candidates can be submitted by Feb. 12 to Misha Isaak, General Counsel, Office of the Governor, at (503) 378-6246, or

To receive answers to questions about the appointment process, contact Shevaun Gutridge at 503-378-6246 or

Asked about the appointment, Boyle told NewsChannel 21, "When Governor Brown has the opportunity to make an appointment, particularly when she has a list of well-qualified and vetted candidates, as she does in this case, she generally prefers to make an appointment — especially given the workload of the Deschutes County Circuit Court."

In fact, the county is seeking one or two additional judges due to that workload when lawmakers convene in February, having had its request rebuffed last year.

Also, Boyle noted, "Under Article 5, Section 16 of the Oregon Constitution and ORS 249.091, judicial vacancies such as this one must be approved by the voters in a November general election, so if the governor were to not make an appointment, this seat would be vacant until November."

If there's only one candidate in the May primary, or if there are more than one and the winner gets more than 50 percent, that person would be on the November ballot, running unopposed.

Article Topic Follows: News

Jump to comments ↓

Author Profile Photo

Barney Lerten

Barney is the digital content director for NewsChannel 21. Learn more about Barney here.


KTVZ NewsChannel 21 is committed to providing a forum for civil and constructive conversation.

Please keep your comments respectful and relevant. You can review our Community Guidelines by clicking here

If you would like to share a story idea, please submit it here.

Skip to content