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Dispatches from public radio's correspondent at the Oregon Legislature. This is a venue for political and policy coverage of the state government in Salem and its impact on the people of Oregon.

Commission Recommends Removal Of Oregon Judge

Ashley Smith
Statesman Journal
Pool photo. Marion County Circuit Court Judge Vance Day looks on during a November hearing by the Oregon Commission on Judicial Fitness and Disability.

The Oregon Commission on Judicial Fitness and Disability said Monday Judge Vance Day should be removed from office after refusing to perform same-sex weddings. Day's spokesperson said in a statement that the judge would vigorously defend his innocence and his rights at the state's highest court.

The Commission said Day, a Marion County Circuit Court judge, violated the Oregon Code of Judicial Conduct on eight out of the 13 counts brought against him. The 48-page report accuses Judge Day of "frequent and extensive misconduct" including some that amounts to criminal behavior. That refers to an incident where the Judge knowingly allowed a felon to handle a firearm.

The Commission also said the Judge engaged in "willful, intentional discrimination" for refusing to marry same-sex couples.

The unanimous recommendation doesn't mean the immediate removal of Judge Day from office. The final decision will come from the Oregon Supreme Court, which may choose to hear additional evidence before making a ruling.

In a statement Day's spokesperson, Patrick Korten, said the commission's findings were at odds with the evidence.

"The opinion is especially troubling because it disregards Judge Day's First Amendment rights to freedom of religion, speech and association," Korten wrote.

Editor's note: the text of this story has been updated with a statement from Day's spokesperson and differs from the audio as it was first broadcast.