Choosing between candidates for judicial positions can be difficult for voters, and campaigning is not easy for candidates. Ethics rules forbid them from discussing specific cases they have handled or how they might rule in hypothetical situations. Voters are left to weigh the candidates' experience and published writings before casting a ballot.
Fortunately, the contest for an open seat on the Oregon Supreme Court — the only contested statewide judicial position on the May 18 ballot — is an easy one to call.
The low-key race pits Allan Arlow, an administrative law judge for the Public Utilities Commission, against Oregon Court of Appeals Judge Jack Landau. His broad judicial experience and background in constitutional law makes Landau the obvious choice.
Arlow, an Oregon resident since 1999, has spent his legal career specializing mainly in telecommunications law. He has worked as an administrative law judge for the Oregon Public Utilities Commission since 1999. Before that, he held a number of positions in the telecommunications industry, and most recently was in private practice in the Washington, D.C., area specializing in federal telecommunications law.
He lists one published article on the questionnaire he completed for the Oregon State Bar's voter's guide to judicial candidates (www.osbar.org/judicial/JudicialVotingGuide10.html). The piece addressed universal access to information technology.
Landau graduated from high school in Portland and earned his law degree at Lewis and Clark College. He worked in private practice and then ran the special litigation unit for the Oregon Department of Justice, later becoming deputy attorney general. He has served on the Court of Appeals since 1993.
Along the way, Landau has written extensively on issues of constitutional law, environmental law and interpreting state legislation. He teaches a course on legislation and interpreting state statutes at Willamette University College of Law, and is frequently asked to speak at law schools in Oregon and other states.
Both men are clearly intelligent, dedicated professionals, and each would bring valuable skills to the state's highest court. But the breadth of Landau's experience and his focus on constitutional law makes him a much stronger candidate.
The Mail Tribune Editorial Board recommends Jack Landau for Oregon Supreme Court, Position 5.