Birnbaum: Wes Williams has right qualities to be judge

To the Editor:

I support Wes Williams for circuit court judge.

I have known Mr. Williams for almost 25 years, since he first came to Eastern Oregon to practice law. Our contact has been primarily professional, since I was then the Administrator of the Indigent Defense Consortium for Union and Wallowa Counties and later the Union County District Attorney. Wes and I faced each other in a number of trials, so I’ve had lots of
opportunity to observe him.

Wes has a set of qualities that really suit him to be judge. He works hard and is always prepared, arrives early and leaves late. He has a deep love for the law and for ethical standards. Most important, he is a true gentleman. He treats everyone with respect — not only judges and lawyers and court staff, but also his opponent’s witnesses, even those who look as though they haven’t bathed.

I believe those traits are part of his character, and I’m confident he’ll carry them with him when he’s elected. Wes Williams is uniquely qualified to be a circuit court judge in Eastern Oregon.

Martin J. Birnbaum

Retired Union County
District Attorney

La Grande

Hunt: Wes Williams is a judicial candidate who knows the law

To the Editor:

As a psychiatric nurse practitioner in Northeast Oregon since 1991, I have testified as an expert
witness in court numerous times. The courtroom can feel like a hostile environment but I believed I could rely on the honesty and integrity of lawyers and judges, assuming that said professionals operate within the law. I had assumed that honesty and justice would prevail.

In two criminal cases, defendants were charged with several felonies that could have resulted in substantial prison time. Neither could
afford a jury trial. In both cases the district attorney offered a plea agreement in which the defendants agreed not to enter any part of Wallowa County for the duration of their probation (three years in one case). They were unable to even gather personal belongings. Both cases ended with divorce and financial ruin. It is my understanding that this method of “justice” has been used numerous times.

I learned Wes Williams was running for circuit court judge and met with him to share this and other concerns. Wes told me, and gave me examples, that this practice is not legal. As far back as 1987 (State vs. Ferrre) and as recently as 2011 (State vs. Donahue), this practice was struck down. It is quite likely a violation of the First Amendment to the Constitution. Wes wrote a draft to the court concerning this practice for one of his private clients and he prevailed. Mr. Williams is a judicial candidate who knows the law.

I am extremely concerned about the divide between law enforcement and citizens. The best way I know to bridge this gap is for people to have greater faith in the legal system and their ability to be heard and treated fairly. I am absolutely convinced Wes Williams is our best and most immediate step in that direction. He is approachable, knowledgeable and honest.

Both candidates for circuit court judge for Union and Wallowa counties have the last name of Williams. I will mark my ballot for WES Williams and encourage you to do the same.

Russel A. Hunt


Cimon: ‘Justice for All’ is Wes Williams’ motivating principle

To the Editor:

I am writing to endorse Attorney Wes Williams as a candidate for Union and Wallowa Counties Circuit Court Judge seat. Over the past 20 years Wes has practiced law for clients in La Grande and our Eastern Oregon communities. He and his wife, Jen, are raising two children and on occasions when I have been out to lunch with Wes, people from all parts of our rural communities have approached and shaken his hand. The warmth was palpable.

My husband, Norm, and I were foster parents for over a decade. At times, one of the frustrating things in our judicial system was the inability of a judge to utilize empathy and flexibility in assessing justice — a flexibility that could help promote real change for a person or a family while also imposing justice. Conversations about the foster care
system made me realize that Wes Williams has a fire for protecting children and the insight to help promote change in the application of law. He fundamentally believes and respects that everyone has the right to liberty and due justice.

Some years back, I bumped into Wes and Jen, quietly celebrating a victory on a federal case that had taken Wes about eight years to successfully bring to closure. He tenaciously continued pursuit of
justice, even though the client had unfortunately passed away. That client’s estate would have the satisfaction of a wrong righted. I was deeply impressed.

This is, for me, a clear window into how Wes Williams sees himself, his role as attorney and his obligation to seek justice for the rights of everyone. It is evident that “Justice for All” is a motivating principle for how Wes views his practice of law. It is also a testimony to his moral backbone. I believe him when he says everyone has the right to fair representation and due justice.

Vote for Wes Williams for circuit court judge. He has my vote.

Shelley Cimon

La Grande

Cooke: Ethan Shaw column is appreciated

To the Editor:

Thanks for introducing Ethan Shaw to us. His first column, “A Haven for Hemlocks,” is awesome. Keep up the good work.

Mary Cooke