Salem, OR—Governor Kate Brown announced today that she will make four appointments to circuit court positions around the state: Manuel Perez in Marion County, Brandon M. Thompson in Washington County, Charles G. Kochlacs in Jackson County, and Alison M. Emerson in Deschutes County.
“These are four of the busiest and hardest-working circuit courts in the state,” Governor Brown said. “These attorneys have shown they can rise to the challenge. Each has earned a reputation for being a hard-working and fair-minded lawyer as they have worked to serve vulnerable populations in their communities.”
Manuel Perez, a hearings referee, will fill a new judicial position in Marion County. He has worked at the Marion County Circuit Court since November 2018. He was previously a criminal defense attorney representing indigent clients, first in Ontario, Oregon, and later in Salem. Perez began his career representing farmworkers at Oregon Legal Services in Ontario. He attended the University of Oregon School of Law and Boise State University. He has served as a board member of the Oregon Law Center and the Northwest Workers Justice Project. He also mentors young lawyers and referees high school wrestling competitions. He fills a new judicial position created by the Legislative Assembly last year.
Brandon M. Thompson, a civil litigator, will fill a vacancy in Washington County created by the resignation of Judge Danielle J. Hunsaker, who was appointed to the federal bench. Since 2012, Thompson has worked as a trial lawyer in workers’ compensation and personal injury cases. He previously worked in private practice representing criminal defendants and civil litigants. Thompson began his career as a prosecutor in District Attorney’s Offices in Multnomah and Polk Counties. He graduated from Lewis & Clark Law School and Fort Hays State University in Kansas. He has volunteered as a judge pro tempore in Washington County, served as a board member of the Washington County Bar Association, and is an engineer for the Oregon Coast Scenic Railroad.
Charles G. Kochlacs, a juvenile dependency and delinquency lawyer, will fill a new judicial position in Jackson County. Since 1997, Kochlacs has been an attorney in private practice representing indigent clients in juvenile dependency and delinquency cases. He began his career as a criminal defense attorney at Jackson County Public Defender. He graduated from the University of Oregon School of Law and the University of California Santa Barbara. Kochlacs volunteers representing seasonal workers pro bono through Northwest Seasonal Workers. He has served as a board member of the organization Resolve and as president of the Criminal Law Section of the Oregon State Bar. He has also been a pack leader for a local Cub Scouts pack. He fills a new judicial position created by the Legislative Assembly last year.
Alison M. Emerson, an attorney in private practice, will fill a vacancy in Deschutes County created by the retirement of Judge Stephen P. Forte. Since 2007, Emerson has specialized in domestic relations cases and civil litigation. She was earlier a prosecutor in the Deschutes County District Attorney’s Office. She received a law degree from Pepperdine University and a bachelor’s degree from Linfield College. Emerson has served as a board member for Friends of the Children – Central Oregon and has volunteered for Northwest Boxer Rescue and Watercup Counseling, which sponsors Miles for Mothers.
The appointments of Perez, Thompson, and Kochlacs are effective immediately. The appointment of Emerson is effective March 1.