Letter to the editor: Spear has the necessary experience to be Circuit Court judge

By James Bailey /

T homas “T.J.” Spear’s overwhelming courtroom experience which includes seven years as a pro tem circuit court judge make him not just the better candidate for Deschutes County Circuit Court judge but the only truly qualified candidate.

Both Thomas Spear and Randy Miller have military experience. Both men have families, and both have friends and colleagues who like them. However, when you compare their backgrounds in terms of qualifications to be judge, only Spear has the necessary experience.

We all know how important experience is in all aspects of life, but in certain fields it is the most important characteristic. Parties to legal proceedings and their attorneys know it is crucial that the judge presiding over the dispute knows how courtrooms operate and knows how to maintain control in that courtroom.

Spear has been an attorney for 19 years; Miller for nine. Spear has had over 200 jury trials; Miller has had one. Spear has served as a judge for over seven years; Miller never. The disparity in their experience is profound.

A courtroom dispute is often a life-altering moment in the parties’ lives, and just as we all would prefer an experienced surgeon to one who has never operated before, having an experienced judge presiding over what could be a life-changing event is vastly preferable to a judge who will learn on the job.

Candidates for elected positions round up endorsements from friends and co-workers, but two unsolicited endorsements of Spear carry particular weight. First, the Deschutes County attorneys favored Spear 69-31 percent over Miller in the Oregon State Bar poll. Such an overwhelming preference by professionals who are in court all the time is compelling. When the people who practice law for a living and who understand the legal process best favor one candidate over another by more than 2-1, it is clear that Spear is the right man for the job.

The second unsolicited endorsement is perhaps even more significant: Spear was appointed to the Deschutes County Circuit Court in 2007, then reappointed twice more. Each time his appointment required the agreement of the Oregon Supreme Court and the Deschutes County presiding judge. When the state’s highest court and our own county court have both recognized the high caliber of Spear’s work as a judge and when Spear’s experience and performance have impressed those most capable of evaluating his qualifications for judge, unquestionably Spear is the right man for the job.

I also want to mention briefly the peculiarity of The Bulletin’s endorsement in this race. The Bulletin endorsed Miller for two reasons: he has civil litigation experience, and he is “enthusiastic.” Spear also has civil litigation experience, so that distinction is meaningless, particularly in light of Spear’s considerable overall litigation experience. As for “enthusiasm,” no litigator I know would want an “enthusiastic” judge presiding over his or her trial rather than a judge whose experience and personality projected confidence and calm as does Spear’s.

I have been an attorney for almost 30 years, and I have never been motivated to write a letter endorsing any candidate for office. However, when the disparity in experience is as great as it is in this election, I felt it important to write in support of Thomas Spear. I urge you to vote in the best interest of the Deschutes County. I urge you to vote for Thomas Spear for circuit court judge.

— James Bailey lives in Bend.