Top state court selects new chief justice

SALEM, Ore. (AP) – Members of the Oregon Supreme Court picked Paul J. De Muniz to be the next chief justice, replacing Wallace P. Carson Jr., who is not seeking re-election in 2006.


De Muniz, the first Latino member of Oregon’s highest court, was elected unanimously to be the court’s 37th chief justice.


De Muniz was first elected to the Supreme Court in 2000. He was a judge on the Oregon Court of Appeals for a decade and a Salem attorney before that.


The chief justice is the administrative head of the state’s appellate, circuit and tax courts. De Muniz starts his new job Jan. 1.


"I think it will keep the court on a steady course," said Carson, who will serve as an associate member of the court until his term expires. "My hope is that the change will have no effect on the court."


Carson praised De Muniz’s work ethic and ability to work well with the other court members.


"I am confident that his integrity and his common sense will serve this state and this court well for many years," Carson said.


De Muniz told the Statesman Journal newspaper that he looks forward to having Carson’s counsel during his first year as chief justice.


"There are so many administrative aspects to the position," he said. "It will be really good to have the opportunity to feel my way around and have someone there to provide counsel."