Gov. John Kitzhaber has tapped a local public defender and a prosecutor to fill two judicial vacancies on the Jackson County Circuit Court.

Gov. John Kitzhaber has tapped a local public defender and a prosecutor to fill two judicial vacancies on the Jackson County Circuit Court.

Kitzhaber selected Kelly Ravassipour, a defense attorney with the Southern Oregon Public Defender's Office, and J. Adam Peterson, a Jackson County deputy district attorney. They will fill the seats of Judge Daniel L. Harris and Judge G. Philip Arnold, who retired from the bench on July 1 and Sept. 1 respectively.

Kitzhaber praised his appointees in a Monday news release.

"Ms. Ravassipour and Mr. Peterson reflect the best of our judicial system — two outstanding lawyers who have worked on opposite sides of the aisle as diligent and respectful advocates to obtain the best results for their clients and for the people of Jackson County," said Kitzhaber.

Per Oregon law, Ravassipour and Peterson will be required to run in the next general election to retain their seats.

The sole female among the 10 local candidates seeking one of the judicial seats, Ravassipour, 39, has handled all types of criminal cases, including Measure 11 and juvenile dependency and delinquency cases as a public defender. She also helped create the juvenile department at the Public Defender's Office.

Ravassipour said she received Kitzhaber's call late last week, and expressed her gratitude.

"I'm very humbled by the appointment," she said. "And I am looking forward to serving the community."

Ravassipour received a bachelor of arts degree from Willamette University and a law degree from the University of Oregon. She worked for the state of Alaska Superior Court and for the law firm of Frohnmayer, Deatherage, Jamieson, Moore, Armosino and McGovern in Medford before joining the Southern Oregon Public Defender's Office in 2003.

Peterson, 32, received his bachelor's degree from Willamette University before attending Creighton University School of Law. Peterson has spent his legal career at the Jackson County District Attorney's Office, where he has handled major felony cases, including homicides, as well as juvenile cases.

Peterson is assigned to the Southern Oregon High Tech Crimes Task Force, and has been responsible for prosecuting technology-facilitated crimes. He also is designated as a special assistant United States attorney for the District of Oregon, specializing in the prosecution of child exploitation crimes in federal court.

"As a prosecutor, I have vowed to protect the public and uphold justice," Peterson said. "I promise to be a fair arbitrator of the law and an administrator of justice for the people of Jackson County."

Both appointees will be sworn in by presiding Jackson County Circuit Court Judge Lorenzo Mejia, said Bob Kleker, court administrator.

Kleker said he hopes the pair will be hearing cases by mid-October.

Ten candidates put in for the vacancies. The others were Jackson County Municipal Judge Joseph M. Charter; Doug McGeary, former county counsel; Nathan D. Wente, a private defense attorney practicing in Medford; two civil lawyers, Ashland attorney Christian Hearn and Medford attorney James Stout; and a trio of prosecutors — David Hoppe, Allan Smith and David Orr.

Reach reporter Sanne Specht at 541-776-4497 or e-mail