Letter: Vote Spear for judge

By Thomas Spear /

Published May 8, 2014 at 12:01AM

My name is Thomas Spear and I am running for Deschutes County Circuit Court judge and I believe experience matters. I have been a trial attorney for 19 years, including 12 years as a deputy district attorney, seven years in private practice and in 2007, I was appointed by the Oregon Supreme Court as a circuit court judge pro tem.

I have tried many cases, both to the court and to the jury and know that trial is a dynamic environment where quick thinking, knowledge of the law and a calm demeanor are needed to succeed. A judge needs these same skills in order to successfully preside over a courtroom and trial.

My experience began with my schooling at Santa Clara University, where I earned a B.S. in chemistry. After college I was commissioned a U.S. naval officer and served aboard a fast-attack nuclear submarine. I earned the respect and privilege of my captain and crew and carried out my duty as the officer of the deck on several deployments during the late 1980s. After the Cold War, I resigned my commission and returned home.

I attended Lewis and Clark Law School and served as an intern with the Multnomah County District Attorney’s Office. From my first day in court, I found it exhilarating. Every day I felt I was doing justice for crime victims and for my community.

After law school, I prosecuted criminals in the Yamhill County District Attorney’s Office for five years.

In 2000, I served as a felony prosecutor in the Deschutes County District Attorney’s Office. I successfully prosecuted some of the most serious and violent offenders during my time as a deputy DA and was recognized for my work when I was selected by the National District Attorney’s Association to instruct young prosecutors on trial strategy and trial skills.

Some of the individuals I prosecuted for their crimes include: James Coon, who murdered his girlfriend and is serving a 32-year sentence; Eric Barbee, who is serving a 37-year sentence for slashing the throat of Nicholas Setzer; Matthew Reason, who received an 85-year sentence for brutally abusing his girlfriend’s children. These are just a few of the criminals I prosecuted.

As a pro tem judge, I presided over many cases using my experience as a trial lawyer to ensure parties who came before me were given a fair hearing. As a private practice attorney, I represent clients who have been charged with serious criminal offenses. I represent parties in family cases and work tirelessly to resolve those cases with opposing counsel; when needed I have tried those cases as well. I am also a patent attorney and work with my clients to ensure their ideas are protected.

I believe service to my profession is part of being a lawyer. I was an officer and president of the Deschutes County Bar Association. I volunteered countless hours, met many wonderful people and worked to provide continuing legal education for fellow lawyers. I have spent many hours coaching the Summit High School mock trial team, and this year we went to state.

I offer balance, perspective and experience to the voters. After trying hundreds of cases to the jury and court, I understand the need for a judge who can make tough but correct decisions during trial. I am the only candidate to try a case to a jury in Deschutes County Circuit Court or any circuit court in the state.

I was honored when 203 attorneys in Deschutes County voted in an Oregon State Bar preference poll and after carefully considering the respective experiences of the candidates, 68 percent of the attorneys, most of whom are civil law practitioners, supported my candidacy because they understand their clients need a judge with experience.

Please vote Spear for judge.

— Thomas Spear lives in Bend