Lebanon’s Kittson-MaQatish sworn in as Circuit Court judge

Newly elected Linn County Circuit Court judges Rachel Kittson-MaQatish and Michael Wynhausen were sworn in Jan. 25 during an investiture ceremony at Linn County Courthouse.

Kittson-MaQatish, of Lebanon, grew up in Sweet Home, before moving on to earn a law degree from Willamette University in Salem and then working for Morley Thomas Law in Lebanon.

Wynhausen, a graduate of the University of Oregon law school, grew up in Portland and went to work in the Linn County District Attorney’s Office in 1997. He worked in Benton County from 1999 to 2005, then returned to Linn County.

Wynhausen is the “consummate team player,” said District Attorney Doug Marteeny. He worked constantly and regularly filled in for other attorneys.

Marteeny said the new judge is “compassionate,” both as a member of the community, giving of his time and money, and to the victims of crimes.

Linn County Circuit Court Judge Thomas McHill recounted how Kittson-MaQatish came to work for him at Morley Thomas. He and his partner had to go out and “find somebody special” to help continue the firm.

Someone connected them to Jessica Meyer, who was appointed by Gov. Kate Brown as Linn County Justice of the Peace beginning Jan. 1. Meyer succeeds retiring Judge Jad Lemhouse. Lemhouse and Meyer were among several judges present during the investiture cere-mony.

McHill said the attorneys still needed another associate. Meyer told them about a friend from law school, Kittson-MaQatish, who had been working with John Wittwer in Sweet Home.

“Rachel is one of those people who continually strive to learn the law and get better at everything she does,” McHill said. She has broad compassion and respect for family. Both Meyer and Kittson-MaQatish were raising and spending time with their children.

When McHill was elected to Linn County Circuit Court in 2010, Meyer and Kittson became full-time associates, McHill said. They jumped in and went to work as Lebanon’s city attorney, showing an important tenacity.

McHill turned his attention to Wynhausen and Kittson-MaQatish.

After their election, “we threw them into the deep end,” he said. “Congratulations, you can swim.”

Linn County Circuit Court Judge DeAnn Novotny administered the oath of office to Wynhausen, while Kathy Engstrom, his significant other, placed his judge’s robes on him.

Retired Circuit Court Judge Daniel Murphy administered the oath of office to Kittson-MaQatish. Her robes were placed on her by her mother Avis Kittson and Larry Johnson. Johnson and his wife Candy took in Kittson MaQatish as a pregnant teenager, during a time when she had gotten into trouble.

They didn’t know who she was other than a moody 17-year-old who didn’t believe in herself, Kittson-MaQatish said. She said the Johnsons were the reason she was standing there Friday – they invested in her when she wouldn’t invest in herself.

NEW JUDGE Rachel Kittson-MaQatish presents retired Circuit Court Judge Daniel Murphy with some souvenirs she found when she took over his old office at Moreley Thomas law firm in Lebanon. Photo by Sean C. Morgan

Kittson-MaQatish presented a tiny gavel and a weird headband with eye-antennae to Murphy, noting that they were left behind when she moved into his old office. She also gave him a copy of an invitation to his investiture from 1994.