New judge appointed to Marion County seat created by Oregon Legislature (Manuel Perez, 12th Co.)

Whitney Woodworth Statesman Journal

Published 1:30PM PT February 13, 2020 | Updated 2:31 PM PT February 14, 2020

A new judge was appointed Thursday to a recently created seat on the Marion County Circuit Court.

Gov. Kate Brown announced the appointment of Manuel Perez, a hearings referee and former defense attorney, to the position.

Perez’s judicial post was added to the Marion County Circuit Court created by the Oregon State Legislature in 2019. 

Marion County Judge Manuel Perez, former defense attorney, is sworn in to the Marion County Circuit Court by Judge Channing Bennett on Feb. 13, 2020.

He and three other appointments across the state were announced by Brown Thursday afternoon. 

“These are four of the busiest and hardest-working circuit courts in the state,” Brown said. “These attorneys have shown they can rise to the challenge. Each has earned a reputation for being a hard-working and fair-minded lawyer as they have worked to serve vulnerable populations in their communities.”

Perz has worked at the Marion County Circuit Court since November 2018.

He was previously a criminal defense attorney representing indigent clients, first in Ontario and later in Salem.

Perez attended the University of Oregon School of Law and Boise State University.

He began his career representing farmworkers at Oregon Legal Services. He has served as a board member of the Oregon Law Center and the Northwest Workers Justice Project.

In a statement, Brown’s office said Perez mentors young lawyers and referees high school wrestling competitions. 

At his swearing-in ceremony Thursday afternoon, Perez vowed to faithfully and impartially serve as a judge. 

Marion County Judge Manuel Perez thanks his family, Whitney and Roxie Perez, as he's sworn in to the Marion County Circuit Court by Judge Channing Bennett on Feb. 13, 2020.

After Marion County Judge Channing Bennett swore him in, Perez’s wife helped him into his judicial robes. 

“I’ve always wanted to be a judge,” Perez said.

He said he hopes his appointment shows that children, no matter their background, they can work hard to achieve their dreams. 

Perez thanked everyone for their support, from judge pro-tem Jennifer Gardiner, who encourage him to apply for the hearings referee position, to Bennett, who mentored him. 

“I had a lot of help throughout the process,” he said. 

Perez also thanked his wife, attorney Whitney Perez. 

“I couldn’t have done it without Whitney,” Perez said. 

The other judicial appointments announced Thursday are Brandon Thompson in Washington County, Charles Kochlacs in Jackson County and Alison Emerson in Deschutes County.Your stories live here.Fuel your hometown passion and plug into the stories that define it.Create Account

For questions, comments and news tips, email reporter Whitney Woodworth at, call 503-399-6884 or follow on Twitter @wmwoodworth