Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senators Ron Wyden and Jeff Merkley today sent to the White House the names of six finalists to fill an upcoming federal judicial vacancy in Oregon created by the announcement from U.S. District Court Judge Marco Hernandez that he will take senior status in August 2024.
In alphabetical order, the six finalists sent by Wyden and Merkley to the White House for its consideration are as follows:
(9/18/23) The following candidates have submitted materials to the Governor's Office for this vacancy. Comments on any of the candidates can be made to General Counsel at Governor Tina Kotek's Office, Richard Lane, (503) 378-6246, or email@example.com.
The Oregon Judicial Diversity Coalition (OJDC) is a coalition of affinity bar organizations which jointly conducts interviews with judicial applicants interested in seeking endorsement(s) from OJDC’s member organizations. OJDC Members include: the Oregon Asian Pacific American Bar Association (OAPABA), the Oregon Hispanic Bar Association (OHBA), the Oregon Chapter of the National Bar Association (OC-NBA), OGALLA - the Oregon LGBTQIA+ Bar Association, the South Asian Bar Association of Oregon (SABA), the Oregon Attorneys with Disabilities Association (OADA), the Oregon Muslim Bar Association (OMBA), and the Oregon Arab Iranian Bar Association (OAIBA). Applicants interested in participating in OJDC's interview process can find information and application materials here. All applications to OJDC are due no later than the deadline for the application forms to the Governor.
The following candidates have submitted materials to the Governor's Office for this vacancy. Comments on any of the candidates can be made to General Counsel at Governor Tina Kotek's Office, Richard Lane, (503) 378-6246, or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Salem, OR — Today, Governor Tina Kotek announced that she will appoint Aruna Masih, a long-time employment, worker, and civil rights attorney, to the Oregon Supreme Court. Masih will be Oregon’s first Punjabi, Indian American and South Asian Supreme Court Justice.
"Aruna Masih is a decorated civil rights attorney who has worked on behalf of Oregonians for over twenty-five years in both her career and community service," said Governor Kotek. “As a practicing attorney, Aruna will bring direct and recent experience working for people — an invaluable perspective that will strengthen the current Oregon Supreme Court. Aruna’s dedication to public service and passion for equal access to justice is also evident from her long-time leadership in advancing equity and diversity in the legal field. I look forward to seeing her continued service to Oregonians as a Supreme Court Justice.”
Aruna Masih (she/her) has been a practicing attorney in Oregon for over 25 years. For most of her career, she has been a partner in the law firm of Bennett Hartman LLP, providing representation in a variety of areas, including employment, labor, appellate, professional licensure, contract, and constitutional law. Masih has also represented clients at McKanna Bishop Joffe LLP. Her legal background features a significant breadth of subject matter and a depth of technical expertise in nuanced Public Employees Retirement System (PERS) and pension case law.
Masih has served as Chair of the Oregon State Bar’s Advisory Committee for Diversity and Inclusion and as Chair of the Labor and Employment Section. She is a founding member and Vice-President of the South Asian Bar Association of Oregon and currently serves on the Board of the Multnomah Bar Association and the Oregon Women Lawyers Foundation. She is also a former board member of the Oregon Women Lawyers and the Oregon Minority Lawyers Association. Masih is also an advisory board member for the Roseway Recovery Cafe, which serves community members in northeast Portland who have experienced trauma and the results of trauma, such as homelessness, substance use disorder, and addiction. She has received the Multnomah Bar Association’s Diversity Award and an award of recognition from the Oregon Minority Lawyers Association for her work.
“Equal access to the courts is an issue of civil rights,” said Masih. “To meet the challenges of our society that the pandemic has undeniably made apparent, we must renew our purpose and redouble our efforts to create a justice system that is recognized by those who interact with it and are impacted by it to be respectful, accessible, and just. Over the last twenty-five years, I’ve represented the interests of hundreds of Oregonians, and I look forward to bringing my unique perspective to the Oregon Supreme Court. I am committed to being a fair and thoughtful Justice and to continue being a steward of equal access under the law.”
Masih’s swearing-in is imminent. Details of Masih’s investiture will be announced by the Oregon Judicial Department at a future date.
Prineville, OR — Governor Tina Kotek announced today that she will appoint Thanh H. Tran to the Clackamas County Circuit Court and Natasha Zimmerman to the Marion County Circuit Court.
Tran will fill the vacancy created by the retirement of Judge Thomas J. Rastetter. Zimmerman will fill the vacancy created by the retirement of Judge David E. Leith. Both appointments are effective immediately.
“These are talented individuals who have demonstrated commitment to their communities through their service,” Governor Kotek said. “I look forward to seeing them bring their meaningful legal expertise to continue to serve their communities on the Clackamas and Marion County circuit courts.”
Tran (he/him) has a civil litigation practice based in Clackamas County. To the Governor’s Office’s knowledge, he will be Oregon’s first Vietnamese American judge and the first Asian American judge on the Clackamas County Circuit Court. He came to the United States as a child refugee from Vietnam and earned his law degree from the University of Washington. He remained in Seattle to work as a criminal prosecutor and then at civil litigation firms for the eight years following his graduation. In 2002, he started his own law practice, where he has represented individuals in personal injury cases, family law, commercial litigation, immigration law, real estate law, and criminal defense.
Tran is a graduate of the Judicial Academy at the National Judicial College and has received the Oregon State Bar Association President’s Diversity and Inclusion Award. He is a past member of the Oregon State Bar Board of Professional Responsibility and a current board member of the Oregon Trial Lawyers Association and the Oregon Asian Pacific American Bar Association. He is highly involved in the Clackamas County community, including through his service to the Eastside Timbers, the North Clackamas School District Bond Advisory Committee, the Clackamas United Soccer Club, Our Lady of Lavang Vietnamese Catholic Church, and the Oregon Vietnamese Community Association.
A photograph of Judge Tran is available here.
Zimmerman (she/her) is a hearings referee at the Marion County Circuit Court. She earned her law degree from the University of Idaho College of Law. Following graduation, she practiced law as an associate at a general practice law firm (Morley, Thomas, McHill & Phillips, LLC), where she worked on a variety of cases, including criminal defense, family law, and civil litigation. For the next two years, she worked as a staff attorney for the Worker’s Compensation Board. From 2007 to 2020, Zimmerman worked for the City of Salem, first as an Assistant City Attorney and then as Deputy City Attorney. For the past two and a half years, Zimmerman has served as a hearings referee in Marion County, where she has presided over criminal cases and cases in the Juvenile Department, where she is currently assigned.
Zimmerman is Co-President of the Mary Leonard Chapter of the Oregon Women Lawyers, and she is active in the Marion County Bar Association and the Willamette Valley American Inns of Court. She has served as a volunteer advocate for the Center for Hope and Safety and has served on the Marion County LGBTQ Foster Youth Workgroup.
A photograph of Judge Zimmerman is available here.
Salem, OR — Governor Tina Kotek announced today that she will appoint Matthew Muenchrath to the Coos County Circuit Court. Mr. Muenchrath will fill the vacancy created by the prior appointment of Judge Megan Jacquot to the Oregon Court of Appeals. The appointment is effective immediately.
“Matthew Muenchrath’s experience both as an attorney and a municipal judge, combined with his commitment to serving the Coos County community, make him an excellent addition to the Coos County bench,” Governor Kotek said. “Mr. Muenchrath has dedicated his career to public service, and I look forward to seeing how he brings his skills to his work as a judge for his community.”
Matthew Muenchrath has spent over 20 years practicing law in Coos County. Muenchrath grew up in Coos Bay and attended Marshfield High School. After graduating from law school at Willamette University College of Law, Muenchrath was commissioned as an Officer in the United States Navy. In 1997, he began active duty in the Navy Judge Advocate General’s (JAG) Corps, and continues his service in the Navy Reserve, where he currently holds the rank of Captain.
After leaving active military duty in 2001, Mr. Muenchrath and his wife returned to Coos County to raise their family. He represents clients in a variety of matters, including court-appointed criminal defense, juvenile dependency, estate planning, domestic relations, and property law. Muenchrath has also served as a part-time municipal judge for the last six years. He is deeply involved in his community, including on housing access and income inequality issues, and he is a former City of Coquille councilperson and mayor.
Salem, OR—Governor Tina Kotek announced today that she will appoint Sara Collins to the Jackson County Circuit Court. Ms. Collins will fill the vacancy created by the retirement of Judge Joseph M. Charter, who the Governor thanked for his service. The appointment is effective immediately.
“Sara Collins is a talented lawyer with a passion for justice and public service,” Governor Kotek said. “In particular, Sara’s experience litigating juvenile cases with compassion and integrity will allow her to hit the ground running and serve her community well.”
Sara Collins grew up in Jackson County and attended South Medford High School. After graduating from law school at the University of Oregon, she completed a judicial clerkship in Alaska and served as a prosecutor there. In 2004, she returned home to Oregon, spending 11 years as a public defender. In 2016, Ms. Collins entered private practice. She represents clients in juvenile, family law, and criminal cases.
Ms. Collins served as a volunteer pro tem judge from 2015 to 2018. For the last six years, she has served on the board of directors of La Clinica, a medical nonprofit in Jackson County committed to providing culturally appropriate, accessible, quality healthcare to Jackson County’s diverse population. She also serves on the Executive Committee of the Oregon State Bar’s Juvenile Law Section.