City looks to move quickly in appointing an interim replacement

The city of West Linn will soon begin the search process for a new judge, as the municipal court’s Heather Karabeika was recently selected by Gov. John Kitzhaber to fill a spot on the Clackamas County Circuit SUBMITTED PHOTO - With Heather Karabeika's appointment to the Clackamas County Circuit Court, female judges will now outnumber the males at Clackamas County for the first time.

Karabeika, a former deputy district attorney and indigent defense attorney in Clackamas County, has served on the West Linn municipal court since 2007.

The vacancy that allowed for her appointment to circuit court was created by the retirement of Judge Steven L. Maurer, Lake Oswego.

“I am thrilled to be appointed,” Karabeika said. “I have the utmost respect for the other candidates that participated in this process. I have been received warmly be members of the bench and bar in Clackamas County since this announcement, and I am very thankful for their support.”

With this most recent appointment, female judges now outnumber the males at Clackamas County for the first time.

As Karabeika noted, Judge Deanne Darling was the first female judge appointed in Clackamas County and is currently celebrating her 18th year on the bench.

“So female judges have definitely come a long way in a relatively short period of time in this historic courthouse,” Karabeika said.

In his announcement of the appointment, Kitzhaber noted the versatility Karabeika has demonstrated over the course of her career.

“Heather Karabeika has a reputation as a skilled, fair and reasonable lawyer,” Kitzhaber said in a statement. “She has already demonstrated her ability to transition from an advocate to a neutral position as a municipal judge. She will be able to hit the ground running and continue her service to the people of Clackamas County as a judge on the circuit court.”

For Karabeika, the transition won’t change anything about her basic philosophy as a judge.

“At the end of the day,” she said, “whether it is a serious case or a parking ticket, people simply want an impartial judge who treats them fairly and with respect, and allows their voice to be heard in court.”

The city, meanwhile, will be working to find Karabeika’s replacement.

Per city charter, the city council will appoint an interim judge when Karabeika leaves at the end of May. That judge will serve from June 1 until the end of September, when the next election is set to take place.

“It’s kind of too bad, it would be much better if it was in November,” City Manager Chris Jordan said. “You get a better turn out and things like that. But the charter says September.”

West Linn municipal court judges serve four-year terms, and Karabeika’s was set to end in 2014.

The judge elected in September will serve the rest of that term before the next four-year cycle begins.

Jordan, for his part, is hoping to move quickly in apppointing Karabeika’s replacement.

“I really hope that in the next two to three weeks we have somebody appointed for the interim,” Jordan said. “That way we can make a smooth transition to the new judge, at least for the four-month period.”

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