OREGON DISTRICT ATTORNEYS

ASSOCIATION

ROD UNDERHILL
MULTNOMAH COUNTY DISTRICT ATTORNEY

WHY DID YOU BECOME A PROSECUTOR?

I’ve been with the Multnomah County District Attorney’s Office for nearly 30 years, and it all traces back to the summer of 1987. I had just finished my second year of law school at the University of Oregon when I was hired as a student extern with this office. That experience changed the course of my life and career. It was that summer when I first appeared before the court as a representative for and on behalf of the citizens of Multnomah County. I knew I wanted to become a permanent member of the District Attorney’s Office as quickly as possible. Almost immediately after passing the Oregon State Bar, I was offered, and then accepted, a position as a Deputy District Attorney with this office. The passion that I found in 1987 for this work is even more vibrant three decades later. I have seen firsthand how the dedicated, professional, ethical, caring and hard work of the members who make up this office have helped thousands of people in our community. This office is here to help those with whom we come into contact – whether they are a victim, witness, defendant or interested community member. In 1987, I saw a ‘do the right thing for the right reason’ attitude, and I wanted to be part of that culture and to help advance that work. I’m enormously proud of the work we do each day, and to be a part of that effort. 

 

WHAT IS THE MOST REWARDING PART OF YOUR WORK?

The most rewarding part of my work is getting to help strengthen our community. Each day, we encounter people who may have nowhere to turn. As a prosecutor, I’ve met crime victims who have felt hopelessness, devastation and loss. I am proud to have been able to help those people and to assist them in bringing out their courage, strength, and resilience to move forward. That work is among the most rewarding of my career. We often find ourselves on the front lines of providing services and resources to those who live, work or may be traveling through our county and suddenly find themselves involved with the criminal justice system. It is incredibly rewarding to see the members of this office working with the community to help. Whether that aid is given to the surviving family members of a homicide victim, a young mother experiencing violence in the home, or to family members struggling to find answers as their loved one tries to prevail in their fight with addiction or to treat their mental health, we work to give everyone the best resources and guidance possible in a compassionate way. That is tremendously fulfilling. It is even more so when we team with our community partners to accomplish a helpful result. Sometimes that rewarding work is done on a personal level. Other times, it’s done through systemic or policy-based decisions where I can lend leadership and guidance to others as they help out our community.

 

WHAT IS THE HARDEST PART OF YOUR WORK?

Witnessing firsthand the often dramatic, devastating and tragic impacts of crime on people can be the hardest part of this job. Whether it is responding to a death in our community, working with survivors of family violence, child victims of sexual assault, victims of human sex trafficking, or other forms of crime - I have seen personally how crime can forever alter someone’s life. Those memories stick with me. They help guide and remind me of our ability to help and support those experiencing such grief. I’m also reminded that in most aspects of the public safety system, our community would benefit from more resources. We need more highly trained investigators, deputy district attorneys, support staff, victim advocates – both in our office and other governmental and non-profit organizations. We need more treatment and support programs and services to help victims, survivors, witnesses and defendants in the criminal justice system. We are fortunate in Oregon to have truly talented, professional, ethical and highly motivated experts who are willing to step up and help. It is hard to see – and we should not allow – our work to be negatively impacted by being under resourced and under staffed. When that happens, our community ends up suffering in both tangible and intangible ways.

 

We do our best each day, despite the challenges we face, to overcome the hardships we encounter. That experience makes our office stronger and that is vastly rewarding.

WHAT DO YOU WANT PEOPLE TO KNOW ABOUT YOU AND THE WORK YOU DO?

The members of the Multnomah County District Attorney’s Office have chosen to work in public service and to dedicate their most valuable assets: their time, energy and talents to making our society a better place to live and thrive. Our teams are committed to the open and balanced administration of justice – one that honors and respects diversity in all of its forms. Each of us - our families, friends, and neighbors – want to live in a safe, fair and just community. We work diligently to be stewards of that reality every day.

DO YOU HAVE VOLUNTEER ACTIVITIES IN WHICH YOU PARTICIPATE?

In my spare time, you can usually find me on a bike, at a music festival or with family and friends. As often as possible, I try to combine those events - such as cycling with close friends across portions of Oregon to experience places of our great state that I rarely get to explore. I’ve traveled on bike –mostly off road – to visit some of the most remote parts of Oregon; from Klamath Falls to Hood River, Hillsboro to Seaside and Steens Mountain to Maupin. I haven’t cycled to a music festival just yet. May be that needs to be in my future plans.

 

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OREGON DISTRICT ATTORNEYS ASSOCIATION
8 N State Street, Suite 8 | Lake Oswego, OR 97034
Phone: 503-303-5071 | Fax: 503-210-1533

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