Judge Charles Bailey, who has drawn criticism in the past, is stepping down as presiding judge.

TRIBUNE FILE PHOTO - Judge Charles Bailey is stepping down as the presiding judge in the Washington County Circuit Court.Washington Circuit Presiding Judge D. Charles Bailey has informed his fellow judges and staff that he will relinquish his supervisorial position as the court's presiding judge.

Bailey has served as the head of the Washington County courthouse for four years. As presiding judge, Bailey is tasked with assigning cases to other judges, among other duties. He will remain a circuit court judge in Washington County, a position he has held for more than a decade.

Reasons for the decision are unclear, and Bailey, 52, did not immediately respond to a request for information. The Oregonian newspaper has reported that Bailey was feeling dissatisfied with his role as presiding judge in recent months.

The Navy veteran, former state legislative aide and ex-prosecutor will continue to serve as presiding judge through next Friday, May 10, after which Judge James L. Fun will succeed him in the supervisorial post in an acting capacity. Later a permanent replacement will be designated.

Bailey was elected to the bench in 2006 and became presiding judge in 2015.

Bailey's tenure as as judge has been polarizing at times, and he has clashed with lawyers as well as fellow judges. In 2015 a fellow judge, Suzanne Upton, filed a threat of a lawsuit against the state accusing Bailey of "outrageous and unlawful" harassment. She retired in 2017.

Last year he faced a challenger for his judicial position, which is unusual in this state. Defense lawyer Steve Burke questioned Bailey's level of experience and judicial approach.

In an April 26 email announcement to court employees, Bailey wrote that "Proverbs tells us there is an end to everything, good things as well," before praising employees and the court's "community partners." He added, "That said, it is time to allow someone else to preside over Washington County Circuit Court ... I am excited to once again preside over trials and meet the great citizens who take time out of their busy lives for jury duty ... I am equaily excited to watch our next Presiding Judge continue all the great progress we have made in the last four years."

Bailey raised eyebrows with an April 25 ruling in which he called a repeat property offender law "clearly unconstitutional" A month earlier the Oregon Supreme Court had tossed out a challenge to the law's constitutionality saying the plantiffs lacked standing.

Bailey had also made defense lawyers nervous with his pro-prosecutor leanings. On April 17 in a public talk, the ex-prosecutor said that as a judge "my focus is still the same" as when he was a prosecutor, adding that "I am trying to create an environment where your safety is the paramount concern."

Nick Budnick
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