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September 6th, 2006 Angela Valdez | News Stories
 

Bench Brouhaha

A race for Multnomah County judge turns nasty.

     
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IMAGE: THOMAS COBB
In a move that's got local legal tongues wagging, judicial candidate Leslie Roberts has filed an elections complaint aimed at leaving her unopposed in the November election by knocking her opponent off the ballot.

Roberts, a lawyer who's married to Oregon Court of Appeals Judge Rex Armstrong, registered her complaint last Friday with the state elections division against Judge Youlee Yim You. Judge You was appointed Aug. 9 by Gov. Ted Kulongoski to fill a vacancy in the Multnomah County Circuit Court.

The newly minted judge must run in November to keep the job, but Roberts says You hasn't lived in the county long enough to run for a seat on the bench. Although You worked as a lawyer in Multnomah County from 1989 through 1994, she left for 10 years to work in Brooklyn and Los Angeles.

State law requires circuit court judges to have three years' residency in a jurisdiction before they run for election, although it's not clear when those three years must have passed. You returned to local practice two years and seven months ago. You's attorney, Michael Simon, wrote state elections officials Tuesday that his client's previous residence makes her an eligible candidate. He also challenges the constitutionality of the three-year requirement.

Spicing up the dispute: Roberts and You live on the same block in Southwest Portland. Roberts, whose children You has occasionally watched, did not return WW's calls.

Betty Roberts, a former Oregon Supreme Court justice and the former wife of Leslie's father, says the legal community is put off that Leslie Roberts went behind her neighbor's back and strategically filed her candidacy and complaint so she could be unopposed.

"I think that's what bothers people," the former state Supreme Court justice says. "I think they're just disturbed about the tactics and concerned that this is something that would happen in a judicial race. People are supposed to trust judges to be fair and at least not to be sneaky."

 
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