multnomah county da rod underhill announces he will retire at end of 2020
I have been with the office over 30 years and have had the tremendous honor and pleasure to be our communitys District Attorney since January 2013. I am proud to work side by side each of you, he told his staff.
There is a lot more work that we need to do together over the next year and a half in service to our community so I will, for now, keep these remarks short. I look forward to continuing our shared vision of an open and balanced administration of justice, one that honors and respects diversity in all of its forms as we provide fair, equitable and unbiased prosecution services.
Underhills announcement opens up the race for the countys top prosecutor position. The district attorney is responsible for setting office policy and has enormous power to steer how Oregons most populous county addresses crime and how it tries to deter it.
Three lawyers, all currently working outside the DAs office, have expressed interest in the job. Underhill told The Oregonian/OregonLive that he called all three Wednesday morning to tell them he had decided not to run for re-election:
Underhill graduated from the University of Oregons law school. He landed his first job in 1988, as a 27-year-old in the Multnomah County District Attorneys Office and has prosecuted most every type of case. He was elected as the countys top prosecutor in 2012 and took over in 2013, following in the footsteps of Mike Schrunk. Schrunk held the office for a record 32 years.
He has focused his offices efforts in various areas, including gangs, human trafficking, reducing disproportionate prosecutions of racial minorities, crime victims rights and alternatives to prison, such as treatment courts and probation programs that aim to help offenders stabilize their lives.
Among the challenges his office continues to face, he said, is handling thousands of cases with reduced staff. In the past two decades, his office has lost close to 20 deputy district attorney positions. Today, the offices 77 or 78 deputy prosecutors report heavy caseloads and evenings and weekends spent voluntarily working to give their cases the time they believe they deserve.
Underhill is a married father of three, now in their teens and 20s. In retirement, Underhill is looking forward to spending more time with family and friends. But he emphasized his work isnt done yet.
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