By Shelby King

The Bulletin

Deschutes County voters on Tuesday chose the candidate who spent his career as an attorney focusing on civil, rather than criminal, cases to take the open judge seat on the Deschutes County Circuit Court.

Randy Miller appeared to have defeated Thomas “T.J.” Spear in the race for Position 5, being vacated by retiring longtime Judge Barbara Haslinger.

Miller, 43, has been a civil litigation attorney for a decade. During the campaign, he stated he was the better candidate because the two most recently elected judges were attorneys with backgrounds in criminal law. Now that the election is over, he will start preparing for his new position, he said Tuesday night.

“I’ve been preparing and meeting with the other judges in preparation for this election,” Miller said. “I will continue meeting with them to learn how I can join and contribute to their efforts to keep Deschutes County safe.”

Miller said he was spending the evening celebrating his win with family and supporters at a private party thrown for him at Baltazar’s Seafood Restaurant.

“I am extremely grateful to the citizens of Deschutes County for taking an interest in my candidacy as they have,” he said. “They chose the right person, and I hope to prove that through my work.”

This is the fourth time Spear, 52, has run for a spot on the bench, though he dropped out of the 2010 race, saying he didn’t have enough time to run a campaign.

During the campaign, Spear emphasized his 19 years’ experience as a trial attorney in both the prosecution and defense, as well as his experience, since 2007, as a justice pro tem in Deschutes County.

Spear was not available for comment Tuesday night.

— Reporter: 541-383-0376,