earlier, U.S. Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) took the lead on filling
recommending candidates for two judicial vacancies in U.S. District Court in Portland (U.S. Sen. Jeff Merkley is also involved in the process but as Oregon's senior senator, Wyden is in the driver's seat on these appointments made by the president).
Appointments to the federal bench are for life and the job pays about $170,000. They require presidential appointment and approval by the Senate. And they are the plum assignments for ambitious lawyers, attracting the cream of the local bar and state court judges.
The five finalists forwarded by Wyden to the White House are:
· Oregon Supreme Court Justice Thomas Balmer
· Multnomah County Circuit Court Judge Henry Kantor
· Lane County Circuit Court Judge Karsten Rasmussen
· Attorney Michael Simon
· Federal Public Defender Steven Wax
Two things are notable about the list: the finalists are all white men; and, missing from the group is one of the 11 original candidates, Bob Weaver
, one of the state's leading white-collar criminal lawyers. Weaver is a former federal prosecutor who has represented Tonya Harding, and most recently, Portland Mayor Sam Adams in Attorney General John Kroger's criminal investigation
of Adams' relationship with Beau Breedlove.
Weaver's representation of Adams led to speculation among local lawyers that it might hurt Weaver's chances for a judgeship. The thinking was that although Weaver is said to be close to Wyden, his representation of Adams — who has admitted lying to gain his office — could turn any Senate confirmation hearing for Weaver into a circus.
Wyden's spokesman, Tom Towslee, said he did not know whether the Adams case harmed Weaver's candidacy.