The views and opinions of submitters to “Letters to the Editor” do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of NewsLincolnCounty.com, its staff or advertisers. The positions taken in the following letter are strictly those of the submitter.
Letter to the Editor
I am writing this letter about my concerns for Russell Baldwin as a potential judge for Lincoln County. I have worked in the court system for almost 20 years in Lincoln County and have spent hundreds of hours working with victims of crime in our court systems. I’ve worked with some of the most vulnerable victims in our community, and have witnessed many judges and attorneys who work with victims.
I have never met Mr. Baldwin but have spent many hours witnessing the Honorable Judge Branford in both criminal and civil arenas.
I am very concerned that Mr. Baldwin doesn’t seem to think that criminal cases are difficult. I beg to differ. The criminal cases that I have been involved with can be complicated and, often, dangerous for the victims involved. Victims of crime are traumatized from the crimes that were committed against them, and re-traumatized in the court system.
I am appalled at the idea of learning the intricacies of criminal law and crime victims’ rights on the bench. I witnessed and have been present in Judge Branford’s courtroom many times. I have seen his concern for public safety, the victims’ safety, and ensuring that both the defendant’s and the victim’s rights have been honored. He treats everyone with dignity, but will hold offenders accountable for their behaviors to ensure that victims are safe.
There is some concern about Judge Branford leaving before this 6-year term is up and having an “outsider” (i.e. Governor) determine who will be a judge. What really happens is that qualified individuals apply for the position and the Governor determines who is the best person for the job. My suggestion for Mr. Baldwin is to start working in the criminal arena to have a better understanding about criminal law, crime victims’ rights, and community safety.
The citizens of Lincoln County and people who are victimized in this community deserve to have a judge that is compassionate, fair, and most of all, knows criminal law.
This position is too important to be on-the-job training.
REBUTTAL from Russel Baldwin, Candidate for Judge
Thank you for the opportunity to address Ms. Cummings’ letter May 2, 2018.
I recently intended to convey that civil law tends to be a more complex area than criminal law. Our federal constitution requires that criminal laws be readily understandable to assure due process. That is not to say that criminal laws are not important—indeed, it is because they are so important that they must be written clearly to pass muster. We have victims’ rights laws allowing remedies to victims when pre-conditions are met.
I agree with Ms. Cummings that victims’ rights are an extremely important part of our law. However, it is not true that I would be learning on the job. I have represented victims seeking restitution against persons found guilty of compensable crimes, on several occasions (arson, burglary, sexual assault among them). In my opinion, criminal law is indeed difficult due to the the emotional strain and harm violent crime has on the victims, and their family and friends.
Judges should be elected by their community, not appointed or anointed by the executive. The legal criterion is admission to the bar of the Oregon Supreme Court. I far exceed that qualification, having appeared in both civil and criminal courts for almost 30 years. Readers can also review my qualifications in the voters’ pamphlet at page 44. My license to practice in the United States Supreme Court is published on my facebook page, Russ Baldwin for Judge.
My commitment to community safety is not limited to my present role as a lawyer and a concerned citizen.
Very truly yours,
s/ Russell L. Baldwin