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All of the candidates are working attorneys, but with vastly different backgrounds

ChapmanFredrick

LawrenceMiller

Pihl

The field is a full one to replace Ronald Stone as Yamhill County Circuit Court judge, with five candidates vying for the seat after Stone announced recently he will retire from the bench by year's end.

The field was six at one time, but attorney Janmarie Dielschneider pulled her name from consideration in late February.

"After much prayer and consultation with my family, now is just not the right time," she told the News-Register newspaper. "I know that future opportunities will come my way and I will continue to serve my community in the ways I do now."

The field consists of three women and two men; three McMinnville residents, one Carlton resident and one resident who lives in Lake Oswego but has a law office in McMinnville. All will be vying for a majority vote in the May primary election. Should none receive it, the two top vote getters will face a runoff in the fall.

The Newberg Graphic solicited responses from the five candidates in a question and answer format. Their responses, listed below, have at times been edited for brevity.

Jennifer Chapman

Age? 38

What distinguishes you from your opponents in this race?

"I am the only candidate in the race who comes from a primarily civil law background. I have appeared in numerous circuit courts throughout the state, including Yamhill County. I have also argued cases before the Oregon Court of Appeals, administrative agencies and the bankruptcy court. I have argued a wide range of different types of cases, including cases involving:  breach of contract, auto accidents, construction defect, child support, lien enforcement, debtor/creditor, labor, wage and hour, corporate status and form, tax disputes, licensing, termination of parental rights and more.

"Despite my civil experience, I am not a stranger to criminal law: I represented the Crime Victims Services Division of the Oregon Department of Justice for several years. I have handled punitive contempt cases (which involve the same rules and standards applicable to criminal cases) and I have represented law enforcement and correctional officers." 

"I have a solid reputation amongst attorneys who have worked with me, including attorneys who have represented opposing clients. I do not have any bar discipline on my record. I have excellent academic credentials, having graduated at the top of my law school class."

Have you run for a judgeship before in Yamhill County or elsewhere? "No." 

If elected, you would be filling some large shoes in replacing Judge Stone. What traits make you particularly suited to take on that task?

"I have a passion and curiosity for learning new things and new areas of the law. I will bring a breadth of valuable and needed experience to the bench. I am patient and understanding, but I believe in efficiency and order. I will be a firm but fair judge."

In a climate where even the president is attacking judges, what can you do to educate the public about the role of the courts in society?

"The most important thing a judge can do in this type of climate is make sure that when people leave your courtroom, they feel like they have been listened to and you were fair — especially when they are the losing party. Being consistently and persistently fair is key to ensuring that the reputation of the judges in this community remains high."

Marl Lawrence

Age: 57. 

What distinguishes you from your opponents in this race?

"Judges need not only to listen and be fair, but also judges need to make tough decisions and that is not a passive role. A judge cannot shy away from making a decision the facts and the law require — popular or unpopular. So, while I certainly have significant experience — including prosecution, defense and civil litigation — I believe I am distinguished from my worthy opponents because I have taken on leadership roles and been willing to fight the good fight throughout the course of my career. That is proof and not just a promise, that I have the courage necessary to make the right decision even if it is the hard decision."

Have you run for a judgeship before in Yamhill County or elsewhere? 

"I ran against Judge Ladd Wiles. "

If elected, you would be filling some large shoes in replacing Judge Stone. What traits make you particularly suited to take on that task?

"Judge Stone has a big heart, a big laugh and tremendous compassion. Simply put, Judge Stone loves people and loves the law.

"How do you do honor to such a legacy of superior traits? Most importantly I want to be sure that the ideas and institutions Judge Stone planted in our legal community continue. To begin, Judge Stone presides over our Court Coordinated Services treatment court program that supervises with compassion adults with qualifying mental health diagnoses caught up in the criminal justice system. I would be proud to continue his important mission to reduce crime by troubleshooting the treatment needs as well as promoting the pro-social strengths of the participants in that program. I believe my compassion for people with mental health challenges would help me with this endeavor.

"In addition, I intend to continue to grow the Emancipation Day program Judge Stone and I founded, which is a program presently designed to educate high school seniors. I know Judge Stone would be more than pleased to see the program continue and expanded to other age groups.

"I enjoy working with young people and I was greatly influenced by a high school teacher myself, and so I am motivated to help and to give back by making a difference in student's lives through education.

"Finally, I know I will seek to emulate Judge Stone's heart, because his skill of uplifting criminal defendants while also holding them accountable is an enviable talent. I already try to incorporate this in my law practice, because there are so many collateral consequences of crime to victims, defendants' children and society, to name just a few.  So, if taking the time like Judge Stone does to remind a criminal defendant they have the capacity for good ends this cycle of crime, then what a tremendous result for everyone." 

In a climate where even the president is attacking judges, what can you do to educate the public about the role of the courts in society?

"Emancipation Day is just the kind of legal education outreach program that can make a difference in how our courts are perceived in society. In creating the Emancipation Day program, Judge Stone and I grappled with how to best educate young adults about the legal system and their rights and responsibilities as citizens. We came up with the framework for a half-day program to be held in Yamhill County high schools for seniors that includes the basics of criminal law and constitutional rights, family law, contracts (rental agreements, car rentals, buying a home, etc.) and immigration law. "Judge Stone, myself and around 10 other volunteer attorneys bring information, "do's and don'ts" and insight into the law directly to these young adults and hopefully plant the seed of practical knowledge of how our legal system works and their place in that system. While Judge Stone is retiring, he has appointed Kate Lynch and I as co-chairs of Emancipation Day — and I suspect Judge Stone will continue to work with us for years to come!

Lisl Miller

Age? 50

What distinguishes you from your opponents in this race?

"My career as a prosecutor distinguishes me from my opponents. Most attorneys enter a courtroom representing an individual or an organization, and the attorney's obligation is to get the best result they can for their client. As a prosecutor, my responsibility is to achieve justice. This requires considering all sides -- the wishes of the victim, the needs of the defendant for treatment or punishment, and the safety of the community. Pursuing justice sometimes means seeking a prison sentence and at other times means dismissing all the charges. My experience in making these determinations in countless cases as a prosecutor for over 17 years will serve me well as a judge who will be focused on achieving justice for all who appear in my courtroom." Have you run for a judgeship before in Yamhill County or elsewhere?

"No, this is my first run for a judgeship."

If elected, you would be filling some large shoes in replacing Judge Stone. What traits make you particularly suited to take on that task?

"I have appeared before Judge Stone regularly for over 14 years. From misdemeanor cases where the defendant needed barely more than a good talking to, to murder cases, Judge Stone's approach has always been consistent, respectful, wise and fair. I haven't always agreed with the outcomes, but I always left feeling that justice was served. I will be that kind of judge.

"I believe my traits that make me best suited to follow in his footsteps are my drive to seek justice, my natural tendency to be thorough and analytical, my ability to remain respectful under any circumstances in court and my thoughtfulness and compassion."

In a climate where even the president is attacking judges, what can you do to educate the public about the role of the courts in society?

"The circuit court judges in Yamhill County hold a unique position of service to the county and visibility within the community. Judge Collins, for example, has been on the cutting edge, bringing new ideas and improvements to our court and legal system across the board. Judges Easterday and Wiles are well known for their activities in the community.

"Educating the public about the role of the courts in society happens every day in the courtroom and continues with speaking to students -- at career day, in classrooms and in mock trials. It continues with participation in civic organizations, whether by membership or guest appearance. And it continues with community involvement in volunteer organizations."

"We are a country of laws and our judicial system is an important component to our freedom. Here in Yamhill County, though, the precedent of the judges that have come before me show that there is much more we can bring to the community."

Carol Fredrick

Age? 56

What distinguishes you from your opponents in this race?

"What distinguishes me is my legal and professional background. I have written and researched appeals, worked for three judges at trial court and appellate court levels, briefly prosecuted cases when I worked as a certified law clerk at the Portland U.S. Attorney's office and represented parties in hundreds of civil and criminal cases, plus have been sitting as a judge pro tem since 2016.  Each of the other candidates has some of these skills, but not all of them." 

Have you run for a judgeship before in Yamhill County or elsewhere? "No."

If elected, you would be filling some large shoes in replacing Judge Stone. What traits make you particularly suited to take on that task?

"I don't think anyone really can fill Judge Stone's shoes, he will be very much missed by the community. However, I think that I can help fill the place he will leave by bringing an even judicial temperament and substantial skill set to the bench."

In a climate where even the president is attacking judges, what can you do to educate the public about the role of the courts in society?

"I have been very active in our community and know that one of the benefits of living and working in a relatively small but prosperous community is that so many people know each other. That is a good thing, since most people never have to come into contact with the judicial system.

"The election process is probably the main way in which the public comes into contact with judges or judicial candidates, so it is through media such as the Newberg Graphic that the citizenship can find out more about crucial role the courts play. Not all states allow their citizens to elect their judges, so Oregon is more democratic and populist by having elected judges.  Participating and staying involved in my community is the key."

Mark Pihl

Age?  61 

What distinguishes you from your opponents in this race?

"Among the qualified judicial candidates, what distinguishes me is a broad background of experience. I have 28 years as a trial attorney and have worked as a prosecutor for 10 years, a criminal defense attorney for 10 years and as a civil trial attorney for over seven years representing businesses in complex litigation and insurance defense. I have tried several hundreds of jury and court trials, zealously working for balanced and fair results. The broad experience of having been on both sides of criminal cases and in civil litigation gives me a comprehensive and balanced understanding of our justice system, court and trial procedures."

Have you run for a judgeship before in Yamhill County or elsewhere?

"No, I haven't. However, I have been serving as a Yamhill County Circuit Court Judge pro temp since 2011, hearing traffic and small claims cases."

If elected, you would be filling some large shoes in replacing Judge Stone. What traits make you particularly suited to take on that task?

"Judge Stone leaves a remarkable legacy. Of course for each new judge there is a learning curve as one takes on the mantle of a judicial position. If elected, I would hope that my broad-based work history and prior pro temp judicial experience would assist me in making that transition. In addition, my experience of having represented clients on both sides of civil cases, small businesses and corporations, as well as having served as a prosecutor and criminal defense attorney, will help me hit the ground running. And my experience of representing both sides in past cases will help me learn quickly and meet the challenge."

In a climate where even the president is attacking judges, what can you do to educate the public about the role of the courts in society?

"Well, each case before the court is an opportunity to educate the limited public present about the court's role in society. If invited, I would be happy to talk about the court's role in society to groups asking for civic information. It is important for everyone to understand how our government and courts work and their role in society."

"For example, Judge Stone has developed an Emancipation Day Series of informative talks to McMinnville and Newberg high school senior students about what happens at 18 and graduation -- adulthood. Many of us have helped with these informative talks that help young adults learn their and the courts role in society. I would seek to continue that series of educational and informative talks."

Judge candidate biographies

Carol J. Fredrick

Town of residence: Carlton

Profession: attorney

Background: Associate attorney at law office of Robert Johnstone, assistant attorney general at Oregon Department of Justice, judicial law clerk for Oregon Court of Appeals, judicial law clerk for United States District Court of Oregon, certified law clerk for U.S. Attorney's Office in Portland.

Education: Law degree from Lewis & Clark College, bachelor's degree in liberal arts from Reed College, graduated from Sitka High School.

Experience: Judge pro tem in 2017 and 2018 for Yamhill County Circuit Court. Local public safety coordinating council chairwoman in Yamhill County.

Jennifer K. Chapman

Town of residence: McMinnville

Profession: Legal counsel for Council 75 of AFSCME

Background: Assistant attorney general Oregon Department of Justice, associate attorney for Smith Freed & Eberhard

Education: Law degree from Lewis & Clark College, bachelor's degree from the University of North Texas

Experience: Assistant attorney general for Oregon Department of Justice

Mark Lawrence

Town of residence: McMinnville

Profession: Attorney at the Lawrence Law Firm

Background: Yamhill and Washington counties deputy district attorney

Education: Law degree from University of California – Davis, undergrad degree in communications from Cal State Fullerton

Experience: Served as deputy district attorney in Yamhill and Washington counties

Mark P. Pihl

Town of residence: Lake Oswego

Profession: attorney

Background: Civil and criminal defense attorney in state since 1990 and since 2009 in Yamhill County, civil attorney in Chicago for three years, Lake Oswego deputy city attorney from 1998 to 2000, Wash County deputy district attorney from 1991 to 1998.

Education: law degree from Willamette University, bachelor's degree in political science and history from Portland State University

Experience: Law instructor at Sumner College in Portland for three years, Danish language instructor at PSU for two years

Lisl Miller

Town of residence: McMinnville

Profession: Yamhill County deputy district attorney since 2003

Background: associate attorney at O'Hagan, Smith & Amundsen in Chicago 2001-2003; assistant state attorney in Kane County, Illinois, April 2000 to September 2001; deputy district attorney for Multnomah County from June 1998 to January 2000; associate attorney at Mitchell, Lang & Smith May from 1997 to May 1998; judicial clerk for Presiding Judge Raymond Bagley Jr. in Clack County (Wash.) from February 1994 to May 1997; law clerk intern to Judge Robert E. Jones in U.S. District Court in Portland for summer 1992; law clerk U.S. Attorney's Office in Portland from May 1991 to May 1992; law clerk at Associated Students of Oregon State University Law Office in Corvallis 1989-1990.

Education: Law degree from Lewis & Clark College, bachelor's degree from OSU in agricultural and resource economics.

Experience: Yamhill County deputy district attorney since October 1993, Yamhill County Multidisciplinary Child Abuse Team chairman November 2008 to June 2011 and December 2014 to present, Yamhill County Child Fatality Review Team November 2008 to present, Oregon Attorney General's Sexual Assault Task Force and Criminal Justice Committee January 2007 to April 2011, assistant state attorney in Kane County (Illinois) for one year, Multnomah County deputy district attorney for two years.

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