Oregon Supreme Court Chief Justice Martha Walters has announced she will retire at the end of the year.
Walters, 71, said in a statement Tuesday that Oregonians can be proud of those in the courts and in the decisions they make every day. Walters was the first female Chief Justice.
“I’m grateful: I’m grateful for the opportunities I’ve had to learn and practice law, and I’m grateful for the opportunities I’ve had to serve in the defense of our courts and the justice they serve,” Walters said.
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Walter’s retirement comes in two months he dismissed all 9 members of the public defense commission, reformed it after frustration with its director, who was later fired, and disagreements over ways to compensate for the lack of public defenders. According to the Associated Press, hundreds of people accused of crimes in the state and unable to afford a lawyer can get state attorneys to represent them.
Steven Singer, the ousted director of the Public Defender Commission, sued Walters last week, saying he was a whistleblower who faced retaliation.
Walters was appointed to the Oregon Supreme Court by Gov. Ted Kulongoski in 2006 after 30 years in private practice in Eugene. In 2018, she was unanimously elected Chief Justice and worked to improve services for Oregonians and implement legislation to reduce bail.
“Chief Justice Martha Walters has been a tremendous advocate for Oregonians who want access to justice and has shown steadfast leadership as the first woman to serve as chief justice,” Gov. Kate Brown said in a statement. “He was cooperative and fearless in searching for solutions to some of the most pressing and complex problems of the state. I appreciate his dedicated service to Oregon and wish him the best. “
The Supreme Court unanimously approved Judge Megan A. Voted Flynn to replace Walters as Chief Justice. Brown appointed Flynn, 55, to the Oregon Supreme Court in 2017. Flynn previously served on the Oregon Court of Appeals since November 2014.
Brown said he plans to fill the judicial vacancy created by Walter’s retirement. The deadline for applications for judicial appointments is Wednesday at 5:00 p.m. Qualifications for the positions can be found here. bit.ly/3MJ1BHr.
The governor’s office is already conducting a judicial appointment process to fill the vacancy created by the previously announced retirement of Justice Thomas Ballmer. Applicants who are part of the pool of candidates from that process will also be considered for the vacancy created by Walters’ retirement.
Dejania Oliver is a new reporter for the Statesman Journal. Get in touch with him [email protected] or follow on Twitter @DejaniaO