Salem, OR—Governor Kate Brown today announced eight appointments to fill judicial vacancies on Oregon's courts. These appointments are effective July 17, 2017.
The Oregon Court of Appeals presently has three vacancies, created by the elevations of Justice Meagan A. Flynn and Justice Rebecca A. Duncan to the Oregon Supreme Court, and by the retirement of Judge Timothy J. Sercombe. To these vacant positions Governor Brown appoints Robyn E. Ridler Aoyagi (Position 4), Judge Bronson James (Position 2), and Steven R. Powers (Position 7).
The Clackamas County Circuit Court presently has two vacancies, created by the retirements of Judge Deanne L. Darling and Judge Eve L. Miller. To these vacant positions Governor Brown appoints Ulanda L. Watkins (Position 9) and Representative Ann Lininger (Position 2).
The Multnomah County Circuit Court presently has three vacancies, created by the retirements of Judge Henry Kantor and Judge Julie E. Franz, and by the elevation of Judge Bronson James to the Oregon Court of Appeals. To these vacant positions Governor Brown appoints Katharine von Ter Stegge (Position 10), Christopher A. Ramras (Position 15), and Benjamin N. Souede (Position 30).
“Oregonians will be rightly proud to welcome this group of exceedingly talented and diverse lawyers into judicial service,” Governor Brown said. “These appointments draw from every corner of the legal profession: prosecutors and defenders of the accused, advocates for injured persons, civil defense attorneys, government lawyers, and even a state representative. This group entrusts some of Oregon's finest lawyers with the fair and impartial administration of justice in our state.”
Reflecting on the retirements of Judges Sercombe, Darling, Miller, Kantor, and Frantz, Governor Brown said: “For decades, these five judges have kept the wheels of justice rolling forward. They have worked tirelessly to ensure that every litigant who came before them was afforded the full and equal protection of our laws. Our state owes a deep debt of gratitude to these fine public servants.”
Court of Appeals
Robyn E. Ridler Aoyagi is a trial and appellate litigator at the Tonkon Torp law firm, where she has worked since 2000. She began her legal career as a law clerk on the District of Columbia Court of Appeals. She is a graduate of Tufts University and Harvard Law School. She is a member of the board of directors of Portland Story Theater and recently chaired a project on e-briefing for the American Bar Association Council of Appellate Lawyers, of which she is an executive board member. She also is past chair of the Oregon State Bar Appellate Practice Section Executive Committee.
Bronson James is a judge on the Multnomah County Circuit Court. Before his appointment to the bench in February 2016, he represented injured plaintiffs and criminal defendants at his own firm. Before going into private practice, Judge James worked as an appellate public defender from 2005 to 2010, and at the company iPSpecialties, LLC, as its general counsel. He is a graduate of Reed College and Lewis and Clark Law School. In addition to his professional committee work, he organizes a group that cooks monthly dinners for the homeless at Transitions Projects NW.
Steven R. Powers is an insurance coverage and appellate lawyer at the law firm Parsons Farnell & Grein, LLP, where he has worked since 2015. From 2011 to 2015, Mr. Powers was deputy general counsel and public safety policy advisor in the Office of the Governor. Mr. Powers earlier served as a Deputy District Attorney for Multnomah County, an appellate attorney at the Oregon Department of Justice, and as Chairperson of the Oregon Board of Parole and Post-Prison Supervision. Mr. Powers began his career as a petitions law clerk at the Oregon Supreme Court. He is a graduate of Western State College of Colorado and Willamette University College of Law. He is a founding board member of the Oregon Filipino American Lawyers Association.
Clackamas County Circuit Court
Ulanda L. Watkins is a managing attorney at the insurance company GEICO, where she has worked since 2011. From 1996 to 2011, she was a criminal defense attorney at the law firm Walker, Warren and Watkins, where she rose to partner. She is a graduate of Oregon State University and Lewis and Clark Law School. She is a board member of the Multnomah County Bar Association, a member of the Oregon State Bar's Region 5 Disciplinary Board, and a volunteer mediator in the Fee Dispute Resolution Program. Ms. Watkins will be the only person of color actively serving on the Clackamas County bench and the third African American woman judge ever to serve on the state court bench.
Ann Lininger is a state representative from Lake Oswego and an attorney with the Metropolitan Public Defender. Lininger previously worked as an business attorney at Buckley Law and as general counsel at Oregon Iron Works. She has served as a Clackamas County Commissioner, co-director at the Community Development Law Center, and as director of program-related investing at the Meyer Memorial Trust. Lininger clerked for judges on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit and the U.S. District Court. Lininger is is a graduate of Yale University and New York University School of Law.
Multnomah County Circuit Court
Katharine von Ter Stegge is an attorney in the Multnomah County Attorney's Office, where she has worked since 2010. She previously worked as a trial attorney at the Oregon Department of Justice and as a prosecutor in the Multnomah County District Attorney's Office. She began her career as a law clerk for a federal judge in West Virginia. She is a graduate of the University of Virginia and the University of Virginia School of Law. She is a member of the Oregon State Bar's Board of Governors and is president of Queen's Bench, the Portland-area chapter of Oregon Women Lawyers. She is a citizen-member of the Independent Police Review Board for the City of Portland and is a volunteer lawyer for the Oregon Crime Victim Law Center.
Christopher A. Ramras is a senior deputy district attorney in Multnomah County, where he has worked since 2002. He previously worked, briefly, at the law firm Smith, Freed and Eberhard. From 1996 to 2001, Mr. Ramras was a JAG Officer in the United States Air Force, serving as both a military prosecutor and defense attorney. He is a graduate of University of California San Diego and Willamette University College of Law. Mr. Ramras is a member of the Alliance for Safer Communities and the Multnomah County Sexual Assault Response Team. He is also co-captain of a recreational soccer club.
Benjamin N. Souede is general counsel in the Office of the Governor, where he has served for the entirety of the Brown Administration. He is a graduate of the University of Pennsylvania and of Harvard Law School, where he served as Supreme Court Editor of the Harvard Law Review. He began his legal career as a law clerk to Judge Susan P. Graber on the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit. He then moved to Washington, D.C. to serve as Senior Advisor to Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton. He began his private legal practice at the DC-based litigation firm Williams & Connolly LLP. Upon returning to Portland, he joined Lane Powell PC, and then became a founding attorney of the Angeli Law Group LLC.
Governor's Office General Counsel
Misha Isaak will succeed Ben Souede as general counsel in the Office of the Governor. Mr. Isaak is currently deputy general counsel. Biographical
information about Mr. Isaak is available online.