The Oregon Judicial Department welcomes the participation of qualified lawyers to serve as judges pro tempore (“pro tem judges”) to assist in the work of the state’s courts and, thereby, improve access to justice. Pro tem judges serve in various capacities in the state’s judicial districts, with their assignments coming primarily from the presiding judge of the pro tem judge’s judicial district.
The Oregon Supreme Court appoints pro tem judges. To be eligible for appointment, a person must be an Oregon resident and have been a member in good standing of the Oregon State Bar for the three years preceding the person’s appointment. In addition, the person must have the legal knowledge and experience necessary to perform the duties of a pro tem judge in a manner that will promote the more efficient administration of justice. To preside over courtroom proceedings, a person must have substantial courtroom experience and strong communication skills.
Pro tem judges are subject to the provisions of the Code of Judicial Conduct. They are also subject to the Oregon Constitution’s restrictions on simultaneously holding multiple government positions. Or Const, Art III, § 1; Or Const, Art II, § 10.1 Before applying to serve as a pro tem judge, applicants should determine whether they have any potential conflicts of interest that could affect their eligibility to serve.
To be appointed as a pro tem judge, a person must apply for and receive approval by the Supreme Court. To do so, an applicant must submit
(1) A completed Application for Pro Tem Judge Approval,
(2) A letter from a judicial district’s presiding judge stating the judge’s position regarding approval of the applicant, and
(3) A letter from the same judicial district’s pro tem judge screening committee stating the committee’s position regarding the applicant’s approval.
The letters must be from the presiding judge and screening committee for the judicial district where the applicant’s office is located. However, if an applicant’s office is located in Multnomah, Clackamas, or Washington County, the applicant may apply through the screening committee for any one of those counties and the presiding judge for the same county. The application and letters from the screening committee and presiding judge should be sent from the presiding judge’s office in one package to the Pro Tem Judge Manager at the Office of the State Court Administrator.
The amount of time to obtain approval varies, depending on the review processes of the judicial district’s presiding judge and screening committee. Once the required materials are submitted to the Supreme Court, the materials will be considered at one of the court’s public meetings, which are usually held monthly. Pro tem approvals are for three years. Persons seeking reapproval should apply early enough so that their applications can be considered before the expiration of their current terms.
If you have questions about the application process, please contact the Office of the State Court Administrator, currently Kim Blanding, Pro Tem Manager (firstname.lastname@example.org) or 503-986-5512.