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Coos County's first female judge to retire after 23 years

(KCBY image)

COQUILLE, Ore. -- After 23 years, Coos County's first female judge is retiring at the end of the month.

Circuit Court Judge Paula Bechtold first took the oath of office in January of 1995.

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Since then, Bechtold says there have been many more women in the profession.

She first noticed the difference at a judge’s conference.

"The current judges were beginning to show a lot of women sitting in with the men, and when you looked in the room where the senior judges were meeting, they were all men. There's just been even more women judges joining the mix," said Bechtold.

Bechtold believes she may have made the biggest difference for the people in Coos County by starting a mental health court, helping people with mental illness instead of sending them through the justice system.

"Certainly, with mental health here in Coos County, we can get them back on the proper medications, help them get housing, help them get their lives stable and keep them from ever committing a crime again,” she said, “and we've been incredibly successful."

Bechtold's last day will be November 30th.

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