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Medford lawyer announces run for Circuit Court judge

Medford criminal-defense attorney Bill Francis is vying for the post of Jackson County Circuit Court judge.

Francis, 62, filed his candidacy Tuesday for the Circuit Court's Position 2, occupied by Judge J. Adam Peterson, whom Gov. John Kitzhaber appointed last year. In private practice for the entirety of his 20-year legal career, Francis said his experience as an independent lawyer and private citizen gives him valuable perspective on the judge's profession.

"It's really public service in its truest form," he said, adding that he doesn't view it as a "promotion" to the top of the legal profession.

Although Francis acknowledged some of the county's "fine judges who came up through the ranks" of private practice, he noted that several on the Circuit Court bench previously worked at the Jackson County District Attorney's Office or Southern Oregon Public Defender's Office. Peterson was a deputy district attorney before his appointment while Circuit Court Judge Kelly Ravassipour, also appointed last year, was a defense attorney with Southern Oregon Public Defender.

"I haven't been part of the government," said Francis. "I haven't been part of the court system."

An equity partner at the firm Carini & Francis, the Medford resident said he has practiced criminal law almost exclusively for the past four years but also has an extensive background in family law. His law offices are on Medford's West Eighth Street.

Francis obtained his law degree in 1993 from Willamette University in Salem. He also holds a master's degree in journalism from the University of Arizona and worked as a reporter and editor for the Daily Territorial in Tucson, Ariz. His work as a journalist, specifically covering courts, prompted his pursuit of legal studies, said Francis. A Boston native, Francis attended Boston and Suffolk universities. He also worked in the Rogue Valley's wood products industry, both as a forest surveyor and in sawmills.

Reach reporter Sarah Lemon at 541-776-4487, or email slemon@mailtribune.com.