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Douglas Van Dyk plans to step down on April 30; Gov. Kate Brown to appoint replacement

FILE PHOTO - Clackamas County Circuit Court Governor Kate Brown announced Wednesday, March 3, the retirement of the Clackamas County Circuit Judge Douglas Van Dyk.

Van Dyk joined the court in 2002 and is the second-longest serving Clackamas County judge behind Robert Herndon. His retirement is set for April 30.

Van Dyk told Pamplin Media Group on Wednesday that he is fortunate during his time as a judge to have had a role in making contributions that might positively impact a person's life.

"Those routine cases involving relatively modest sentences, sentences that to the uninitiated or uninformed might look like a slap on the wrist, but in the lives of the people involved, they can be life shaping," Van Dyk said. "These are Maslow-like moments, and if they're handled properly I've always believed there are prospects for reform and rehabilitation."

According to Van Dyk, when he joined Clackamas County Circuit Court 18 years ago, he was impressed by what former district attorney John Foote was doing with rehabilitating people struggling with mental health and addiction, and he continues to be impressed with the similarly progessive efforts of Foote's successor, Clackamas County District Attorney John Wentworth. He said he appreciates the collaboration between the county, district attorney's office, probation officers and community of defense attorneys that have made Clackamas County a leader on this issue.

Van Dyk said he believes that many of the mechanisms still employed by today's judicial system apply a 19th-century understanding of the human brain, whereas the justice system of the 21st needs to be looking at behavior through a rapidly advancing understanding of neurophysiology in order to respond more effectively.

"Our justice system can become better informed if it stays alert to those developments and can tailor responses to the individuals that stand before us with an understanding of some of those neuro-psychological conditions that cause the person to be there, whether in the form of a vulnerability to addiction or an anxiety crisis that results in desperate people making desperate decisions," Van Dyk said.

According to Van Dyk, his decision to retire stems from a desire to spend more time doing activities such as hiking and climbing while he's still young enough to do them.

"There are many things we postpone, and I have lots of ambitions for my free time, so I'm very much looking forward to it," he said.

In a statement Wednesday, March 3, the governor thanked Van Dyk for his 19 years of service to Clackamas County and announced she will fill the position by appointment. Brown said she will take applications through Monday, March 22 and encourages applications from lawyers with a wide variety of backgrounds and experiences.

To receive answers to questions about the appointment process, or to request an interest form, contact Shevaun Gutridge at 503-378-6246 or by email at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

The judicial interest form is also available online.


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