Randy Miller will take his seat as the newest judge on the Deschutes County Circuit Court early, Gov. John Kitzhaber announced Wednesday.

Miller, a Bend attorney, defeated Thomas Spear in the May election to succeed Judge Barbara Haslinger. Haslinger, the first female judge in Deschutes County history, officially retired on June 30 after nearly 24 years on the bench.

Haslinger was most recently elected in 2010, and left her four-year term early. Without action by the governor, Miller would not have been seated until Jan. 1.

Judge Alta Brady, presiding judge for the court, said that although Haslinger retired before completing her term, local courts have not been short-handed. Haslinger has remained on the job under a state program that allows retired judges to boost their retirement benefits by serving as a substitute judge of sorts, Brady said, and will continue to do so until Sept. 5, one day after Miller will formally be seated.

“Judge Haslinger’s been here. She retired on the 30th of June, and came back on July 1 full-time, so it’s been absolutely seamless,” Brady said.

Seating Miller early will allow him to participate in the transition to “eCourt,” a state initiative to phase out the use of paper documents. Deschutes County Circuit Court is in the early stages of that transition, Brady said, and having Miller on the bench sooner should make for a smoother process.

“It’s not just the judges learning how to work within the system; the judges are helping create the system,” Brady said. “So we want his elbow grease on that as well.”

In an emailed statement Wednesday, Miller thanked the governor for the appointment.

“I look forward to joining our hard-working judges, court staff, local attorneys, law enforcement and other professionals in their tireless effort to increase access to justice and to improve our justice system,” he wrote.

— Reporter: 541-383-0387, shammers@bendbulletin.com