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Bernstein edged out three candidates to serve between June 1 and Sept. 17

Nearly one month after West Linn Municipal Court Judge Heather Karabeika was appointed to the Clackamas County Circuit Court, city prosecutor Rhett Bernstein was named Monday as her interim replacement. by: SUBMITTED - Bernstein

Bernstein, a West Linn-based attorney who specializes in personal injury, estate planning and criminal representation, was one of four candidates who interviewed for the interim position May 16. The city council in attendance for Monday’s special meeting voted unanimously to select Bernstein over Zach Lorts, Ron Gray and Elizabeth Lampson.

Councilor Mike Jones was not present at the meeting.

As interim judge, Bernstein will serve from June 1 to Sept. 17, when a special election will determine a permanent replacement until Karabeika’s term ends in 2014.

A West Linn native, Bernstein attended Stafford Primary, Willamette Middle School and West Linn High School before heading to the University of Puget Sound for his bachelor’s degree.

He graduated from the Northwestern School of Law at Lewis & Clark College in 2002 and has held a private practice in West Linn since 2005. He became city prosecutor in March of 2007, and has past experience on the West Linn Municipal Court as a defense attorney.

Bernstein recently represented the city in its case against Troy and Gina Bundy, during which Karabeika found the couple guilty of installing a pool in their backyard without the proper permits.

After interviewing the four candidates on May 16, the council ultimately identified Bernstein and Lorts as its finalists, and Councilor Thomas Frank wasted little time submitting a motion for Bernstein’s appointment. The motion passed without any argument, but Councilor Jenni Tan asserted that it was not an easy decision.

“All four candidates were very well-experienced, knowledgeable, positive, passionate to do the job,” Tan said. “If we picked any one of them, we would be in good hands.”

It was Bernstein who prevailed, though, and now the city will begin the process of hiring his replacement as interim city prosecutor.

According to Assistant City Manager Kirsten Wyatt, the city anticipates speaking with attorney Jerry Seeberger, who currently serves as the prosecutor in Lake Oswego and runs a private practice in Oregon City. Seeberger is also a former Clackamas County deputy district attorney.

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