The three candidates to be the next circuit court judge for Grant and Harney counties introduced themselves and answered questions from community members during the Grant County Republican Central Committee meeting Jan. 30.
Burns-based attorney John Lamborn, Grant County District Attorney Jim Carpenter and local attorney Rob Raschio each came with their wife and enjoyed the opportunity to be with community members.
Lamborn started the introductions and shared his work experiences practicing law and his education.
Lamborn has a bachelor’s degree in psychology from the University of Oregon in Eugene and a professional degree in law from McGeorge School of Law in Sacramento, California. Since 1995, Lamborn has been practicing law in Harney County, and before that he was performing civil work in California.
“Happy to be a Duck, and when I graduated from U of O in 1982, I went to McGeorge School of law, which is part of the University of the Pacific down in Sacramento,” Lamborn said. “I admitted to the California Bar in 1990 and admitted to the Oregon Bar in 1995.”
Lamborn is married to Angela, who is the executive director of the Harney County Senior & Community Services Center, and has three kids: his oldest son, Woody, graduated from Portland State and now works for an accounting firm in downtown Portland; his middle son, Andy, who was a valedictorian of his high school class and graduated a couple years ago from the University of Oregon; and his youngest child, Maggie, who is about to graduate from the University of Alaska in Anchorage and will head to England in the fall to a law program at Bristol University.
Along with being an attorney, Lamborn was chairman of the Harney County Planning Commission for 10 years, being involved with land use issues in Harney County, and a justice of the peace pro tem for Harney County Justice Court.
“I really enjoy my law practice, and I enjoy the challenges that it brings,” Lamborn said. “I am on the arbitration panel, and I have been on the panel for Grant County, Harney County and Malheur County. As far as making decisions for other people’s lives, I have been doing this for years, and I find this hugely rewarding.”
Carpenter began his introduction stating that he is a Grant County kid. He grew up in the county, and his family was supported by the timber industry when they came in 1972.
Growing up, he moved irrigation pipes, built fences, helped feed cows and cut juniper trees during the summer. After high school, Carpenter pulled green chain at John Day Lumber Co., and he said that was about the time he decided that college was for him. He attended Southern Oregon University in Ashland where he earned a bachelor’s degree in business administration and a minor in economics in 1996. He then attended South Texas College of Law in Houston, Texas, where he earned a law degree in 1999. He then took and passed the Idaho and Oregon state bar exams in 2000.
He has been married to Angel Carpenter, who worked for The Eagle as the sports and community reporter, for almost 30 years and has four boys: Zack, 26, who is a Bandon police officer; Kyle, 24, who is a UPS supervisor and recently returned to school part-time; Daniel, 20, who is a commercial diver and underwater welder for Chet Morrison; and Will, 16, who is currently enrolled in Grant Union High School.
Carpenter began practicing law in 2000 as an associate of Mike Kilpatrick and then started a private practice with Ryan Joslin in 2003. In 2006, Carpenter began the practice Jim Carpenter, P.C., until 2014. He was then elected to be the Grant County district attorney in 2015.
“In Oregon, and to some extent Grant County, property crime is significantly higher than the national average, according to the FBI statistics,” Carpenter said. “The legislature is driving down the sanctions for those things and making the rights of the defendants higher, but they are making it so that our things aren’t safe. One of the things that I would be more apt with as the judge is to protect the rights of the victims and the people who have interest in property in those kinds of things above the people that are taking them.”
Raschio grew up in Milwaukie and is married to Sena, a kindergarten teacher at Humbolt Elementary, and has two kids: Vincent, who is in the sixth grade, and Annabelle, who is in the first grade at Humbolt.
Raschio attended Portland State University and graduated with a bachelor’s degree in history and then went to the University of Oregon School of Law where he received a law degree. After law school, he sought a rural area to practice law and began at the Law Office of Markku Sario in Canyon City from 2001-2002.
“I had an opportunity to work with Judge Cramer that year, and I learned a lot from him,” Raschio said. “I had an offer to go back to Portland to work at an attorney’s office, but I turned the offer down to move down to Burns with John (Lamborn) and our former partner Gordon Mallon. I was down there for five years and had the opportunity to meet my wife, Sena, on a blind date at El Toreo, and that’s the only one (blind date) I’ve ever been on.”
Raschio then moved to The Dalles and became a partner at Morris, Smith, Starns, Sullivan and Raschio, P.C., for eight years. Rob and Sena knew they wanted to move back to Eastern Oregon to raise their family and made the conscious choice to move back in 2014. Raschio opened his private law practice and continues to practice in Grant County.
Raschio was appointed as a pro tem commissioner to the Grant County Court for six months in 2018-2019.
“As many of you know, I had an opportunity to work on your Grant County Court, and I had an opportunity to write a forest objection on behalf of Grant County,” Raschio said. “I am running for judge because I really do believe I have an understanding of what the voice of the community is and what the efforts are here in Grant and Harney counties.”
The death penalty
A community member asked what the candidates thought about the death penalty.
Lamborn said murder is wrong, no matter who does it.
“If person A kills person B, that is a horrible thing to have happen, but I don’t think the state should be in control of that decision,” Lamborn said. “I believe that the state should be in the business of empowering the people.”
Carpenter said Oregon voters approved the death penalty, and the state of Oregon should abide by the will of the voters.
“Our legislature recently made the death penalty essentially apply to crimes of terror, and so many cases when the penalty was imposed are now being raised on appeals and are having those sentences reversed,” Carpenter said. “I think our legislature and our governor should follow the will of the people as opposed to imposing their will on the people.”
Raschio said, in his career as a defender, he represented people who have been accused of murder and faced the death penalty. He added that it is a hard decision for a person of faith on the question of death, but a judge does have a job.
“My job as the judge is to follow the law and the statutes and the Constitution of Oregon, and if I am required as a part of that responsibility to impose the death penalty after a jury told me that is the result that needs to happen, I am going to do that,” Raschio said.
Each candidate was asked to define judicial temperament and how they planned to personify that definition as a circuit court judge.
Lamborn said an important part of judicial temperament is that a judge has a sense of solemnity that does not sway a jury or give the jury an idea of his feelings toward a case.
“On the other side of the coin, you really have to respect everyone that comes before you and respect law,” Lamborn said. “When a lawyer is working hard, you’re identifying the fact, especially to the client sitting next to the lawyer, that a lawyer is making the best argument that they can make.”
Carpenter said judicial temperament requires that a judge see everyone individually and, if a judge is upset with an attorney, he must remember that the case is about the client.
“Normally, our judge is pretty temperate, but he called an attorney rigid, silly, illogical, and when the judge left the bench I turned to the attorney and told him that the judge was out of line to do that,” Carpenter said. “I’m a reasonable person, and I am very even-handed, and that is what a judge needs to be.”
Raschio said a true test of a judge is his temperament and how he treats people on a daily basis. He also said a judge needs a sense empathy to step into the shoes of the litigants and make sure they are heard.
“The best judges that I have seen in terms of temperament can look at a person, put them in jail or prison for a long time and have that person say, ‘Thank you, your honor, and I appreciate you hearing my position,’” Raschio said. “I think that everybody who comes to my courtroom will feel respected because I respect the people who come in front of me.”