Judge Dawn McIntosh is the new presiding judge at Clatsop County Circuit Court.
McIntosh moved up to Courtroom 300 over the weekend, which was previously held by Paula Brownhill, who retired at the end of October after 25 years on the bench.
“It’s bittersweet coming up here because I love the courtroom, I love the view, but I would have stayed in the basement forever if I could have kept her around,” McIntosh said. “But she earned it, she worked so hard for 25 years.”
As presiding judge, McIntosh will take on additional administrative duties, including supervising the new trial court administrator, Julie Vredeveld.
Among her priorities are to continue Brownhill’s work in meeting the Oregon Supreme Court standards for timely dispositions of cases.
“People deserve to have decisions and their cases handled timely. And in a manner that is respectful and gets all sides of the dispute heard,” McIntosh said.
She will also lead the court’s security committee.
“We face a number of the same issues that other rural communities face with a lack of security in the courthouse,” McIntosh said. “We know what good security looks like, but we don’t have it here. And it is something we’re going to continue to work on.”
McIntosh was elected in 2016 to a six-year term, replacing Judge Philip Nelson, who retired.
She began her career interning for the sex crimes unit in Multnomah County District Attorney’s office after dropping out of law school.
“I was there a week and said, ‘This is what I want to do.’ So, I went back to law school the next term and I worked at the DA’s office throughout law school, started trying cases when I was a third-year and I stayed there,” McIntosh said.
She graduated from Lewis & Clark Law School in 1992 and was hired as an assistant district attorney in Multnomah County.
McIntosh moved to Clatsop County in 1998 to serve as chief deputy district attorney. She supervised child abuse and major sex crime cases until 2003.
She was named the Oregon District Attorneys Association’s Child Abuse Prosecutor of the Year in 1999.
After spending about five years at the district attorney’s office, McIntosh left to work as a defense attorney and work on domestic relations and juvenile cases in Clatsop and Tillamook courts.
She thinks having worked as a prosecutor and defense attorney has given her a good perspective as judge.
During her time as a lawyer, McIntosh tried many cases before Brownhill. She said Brownhill was instrumental in her career before she took the bench because she gave her feedback after every trial.
“You could count on her for actual, real constructive criticism, never just a ‘you did a great job,’” McIntosh said.
“It was very, very helpful as a fairly young lawyer ... every time I had a trial to be able to get some feedback on what worked and what didn’t work and what I’d done better and what I’d not done better.”
Brownhill also endorsed McIntosh when she ran for election in 2016.
“It felt really good because I knew she wouldn’t have done it if she didn’t believe I could do the job,” McIntosh said. “The same way I know she wouldn’t have retired when she did if she didn’t know I could do the job. It’s nice to know she has that confidence in me.”