Oregon Supreme Court Justice Balmer retiring after 21 years

FILE PHOTO: Oregon Supreme Justice Thomas A. Balmer, center left, asks a question of attorney...
FILE PHOTO: Oregon Supreme Justice Thomas A. Balmer, center left, asks a question of attorney Harrison Latto, attorney for death-row inmate Gary Haugen during a hearing in Eugene on Thursday, March 14, 2013. (AP Photo/The Register-Guard, Chris Pietsch, Pool)(Chris Pietsch | AP)
Published: Oct. 3, 2022 at 8:05 PM PDT
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SALEM, Ore. (AP) - Oregon Supreme Court Justice Thomas Balmer has announced that he will retire at the end of the year.

Balmer, 70, said in a statement Monday that he had written a letter to Gov. Kate Brown announcing his retirement, calling it an honor and the privilege of a lifetime to serve on the high court.

“I have done my best to live up to my judicial oath to ‘faithfully and impartially’ fulfill my duties as a judge, uphold the constitutional role courts play in our democracy and contribute to a justice system that strives towards ‘equal justice under the law,’” he said.

Balmer has been a member of the Oregon Supreme Court since 2001 and was chief justice from 2012 to 2018, overseeing the statewide Oregon eCourt system project, and rebuilding Oregon’s court system after severe budget reductions in the 2009 recession, among other projects.

“Without fanfare, he instigated and completed a myriad of projects designed to modernize and strengthen our courts and to increase access to justice,” Supreme Court Chief Justice Martha Walters said in the statement.

Brown said he has brought a keen legal intelligence, a commitment to hard work and a deep understanding of the state to the Supreme Court.

Before serving on the court, Balmer, from Portland, worked in private practice, for the U.S Department of Justice, and as deputy attorney general in the Oregon Department of Justice.

Brown said she is accepting applications to fill the vacancy.