Beth Bagley will be sworn in today by the very same judge she'll replace on the Deschutes County Circuit Court bench.
Bagley, 39, takes the seat of Judge Michael Sullivan, and she's chosen him to conduct her investiture ceremony at 2 p.m. today.
There's no way she can replace Sullivan, Bagley said, but she can try to emulate some of the work he's done over the past 24 years.
“I hope to be an approachable, open judge,” she said. “I hope to demonstrate some of the work ethic he has.”
Bagley was elected to the bench in November. She earned her bachelor's degree from the University of California at Santa Barbara and her law degree from the University of Minnesota School of Law.
She worked as a public defender from 1998 to 1999 before moving to the opposite side, prosecuting crimes for the Coos County District Attorney's Office in 1999.
She started at the Deschutes County District Attorney's Office in 2002, and most recently worked as the supervising attorney for nonviolent crimes.
District Attorney Patrick Flaherty called Bagley a brilliant lawyer and a great manager, and said her move to the bench was a great loss to the DA's office.
“She's the kind of attorney who, if you assign a project to her, you can trust it would be completed expeditiously, and she does high quality work,” he said.
During her tenure with the DA's office, Bagley is probably best known for successfully prosecuting Darrell Middlekauff's murder trial along with co-counsel Steve Gunnels. Middlekauff, found guilty of aggravated murder after a nearly two-month trial in 2011, killed his wife, whose remains were found in a barrel in La Pine three years after her disappearance.
But Bagley has handled a wide variety of cases through the years.
“She certainly understands the difference between her role as a prosecuting attorney and a judge and I think she will be an extraordinary judge,” Flaherty said. “She has the ability to analyze cases objectively ... As a judge you're always in the position of needing to analyze both sides of whatever issue is before the court.”
Bagley also served on the Bend-La Pine Schools Board for four years before resigning in November after being elected to the bench. She was appointed to her seat, then ran unopposed for the spot in 2009.
Nori Juba served on the school board with her, and said she always sought to represent the children who sometimes slip through the cracks.
“She was very much about equity among our schools and (she) was never afraid to express her views,” he said. “She was very principled and wasn't afraid to voice her views that were not the consensus or majority view.”
He remembered Bagley being upset in 2011 by the changes to middle-school boundaries, which caused an uproar among parents as well.
“She felt a lot of kids got a raw deal when we redrew the boundaries, and she was articulate and expressed her views,” Juba said. “I think she was the voice for the families of those children who were not always the most represented.”
But, when a decision was made, Juba said, Bagley was a team player who would be supportive and positive.
“She was never a whiner, and she was able to work with people,” he said. “I think she'll be a really good judge.”
Bagley said she looks forward to the challenge of being a judge.
“It's a big responsibility and I take it really seriously,” she said. “I want to do a very good job.”
To that end, Bagley said she believes her work ethic and decision-making abilities will help as she takes the reins.
“I'm not necessarily quick to jump to decisions, but I'm not one to hedge,” she said. “It's in the title of judge. You judge, you make decisions and I think over the years both in my work as a trial attorney, having to make on-the-spot decisions, and on the school board, having to make decisions that affect a lot of people, I've developed the skill set for that.”