Shortly after 4 pm on June 6, Circuit Judge Judith Matarazzo received an unusual visitor at her office in the Multnomah County Courthouse.
An hour earlier, District Attorney Rod Underhill had called to request a meeting. The pair had met only a handful of times before.
Matarazzo had a lot on her mind. She would head to the airport later that day to pick up family visiting for her parents’ 60th wedding anniversary. In four days, more than 100 people would fill her house for the celebration.
And after 11 years on the bench, Matarazzo was also hoping for a major step up. In the spring, she’d applied for one of two openings on the bench of the Oregon Supreme Court. She was a finalist, but didn’t get chosen by Gov. Kate Brown. Now, Matarazzo, 58, was seeking the support of her fellow judges to become the presiding judge for Multnomah County.
Matarazzo wondered what Underhill wanted. “Quite frankly,” she recalls. “I didn’t know why he was there.”
In a 40-minute conversation, the county’s top prosecutor explained that he planned to ask the court to remove Matarazzo from a case his office was prosecuting.
Prosecutors and defense attorneys sometimes make such requests. But Underhill went much further. He told her none of the 81 lawyers in his office would ever try a case in front her again. That kind of blanket rejection is extremely rare.Read More (Offsite)