Gov. Kate Brown has appointed Beau Peterson, a senior deputy district attorney, as a judge on the Clatsop County Circuit Court.

“Beau Peterson is a dedicated public servant who has passionately and tirelessly served the people of Clatsop County,” Brown said in a statement Tuesday. “His extensive trial court experience and his empathy for litigants from all walks of life will serve him well on the bench.”


Peterson replaces Paula Brownhill, who retired in November after 25 years on the bench.

“I am honored by the appointment and the chance to keep serving Clatsop County and I’m really excited to move into this next phase of my career,” he said. “It’s been really wonderful working at the DA’s office. I could hardly have imagined a better place to have worked, but I think the change is also good.”

Peterson grew up in Portland and earned his bachelor’s degree and his law degree from the University of Oregon.

While attending law school, he spent a summer working as a law clerk under the supervision of Brownhill. During that summer, he decided he wanted to live and practice law in Clatsop County.

Peterson graduated law school in 2006 and began his career as a prosecutor in 2007.

He has handled a range of cases, including vehicular manslaughter, assault, elder financial abuse, embezzlement, drunken driving, thefts and burglaries.

Most recently, he was the lead counsel in the murder prosecutions of Adeena Copell and Christian Wilkins, who were convicted in May in the 2016 death of a Newport man.

Peterson has represented the district attorney’s office on the county’s mental health court and has served as a board member for Clatsop Behavioral Healthcare.

“We’re very excited about it, very happy for him. We see it as a feather in our cap to have someone promoted basically to another DA job or the bench particularly,” District Attorney Ron Brown said.

“He’s been here with us since a year he got out of law school. We’re going to miss him a lot. We’ve loved having him on our team, but we’re also very proud he got appointed by the governor.”

Peterson’s appointment is effective immediately. He is expected to begin in January. The position will be up for election for a six-year term in May.

“Gov. Brown chose well. Beau Peterson is a thoughtful, courteous and well-prepared prosecutor,” Brownhill said in an email. “He will be an excellent judge — a careful listener and fair decision-maker. The court will have to work through conflicts with cases he has prosecuted, but he will be able to pick up civil and family law cases immediately.”

Judge Dawn McIntosh, the presiding judge of the Circuit Court, said Peterson is a fair trial lawyer and will make a good judge.

“We are thrilled with the governor’s decision and we are looking forward to welcoming Mr. Peterson on the bench here in Clatsop County,” McIntosh said. “He has a lot of experience … he’s an excellent trial lawyer, he’s bright, he’s intelligent, he’s well-respected by the bench and the bar on both sides of the aisle.”

Nicole Bales is a reporter for The Astorian, covering police, courts and county government. Contact her at 971-704-1724 or

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