(Update: Adding Emerson's comments)
Bend attorney, judge pro tem will succeed retiring Judge Stephen Forte
SALEM, Ore. (KTVZ) -- Oregon Gov. Kate Brown on Thursday appointed Bend attorney Alison Emerson to the Deschutes County Circuit Court, succeeding retiring Judge Stephen Forte.
Emerson's appointment as the county's newest judge is effective March 1, the day after Forte retires after nearly two decades on the bench.
An attorney in private practice since 2007, Emerson has specialized in domestic relations cases and civil litigation. She was earlier a prosecutor in the Deschutes County District Attorney’s Office and has been serving as a county judge pro tem.
Emerson received a law degree from Pepperdine University and a bachelor’s degree from Linfield College.
She has served as a board member for Friends of the Children – Central Oregon and has volunteered for Northwest Boxer Rescue and Watercup Counseling, which sponsors Miles for Mothers.
Emerson has specialized in domestic relations cases and civil litigation for 13 years.
"I'm just really excited to join the bench here in Deschutes County,” she told NewsChannel 21. “I think we have a really great judiciary already, and so I'm just really honored to serve Deschutes County, and hopefully I'll do a good job for the people here."
Emerson's appointment was one of four new judges Brown announced Thursday, the others being Manuel Perez in Marion County, Brandon Thompson succeeding in Washington County and Charles Kochlacs in Jackson County.
The Marion and Jackson county positions are newly added judges, while Thompson will succeed Judge Danielle Hunsaker, who resigned after she was appointed to the federal bench.
“These are four of the busiest and hardest-working circuit courts in the state,” Brown said in her announcement. “These attorneys have shown they can rise to the challenge. Each has earned a reputation for being a hard-working and fair-minded lawyer as they have worked to serve vulnerable populations in their communities.”
Emerson already had filed late last year to run for Forte's seat, after he announced his plans to step down. So far, no one else has filed as a candidate for the position, online election records show. The May 19 primary candidate filing deadline is March 10.