Judge Eric Bergstrom

Multnomah County Circuit Court Judge Eric J. Bergstrom

Judge Bergstrom is no stranger to the challenges and long hours that come with his position. As members of the criminal bar have long known and as a growing number of civil attorneys are quickly discovering, Judge Bergstrom has all the tools to be a valuable member of the judiciary for years to come. He brings to the bench a calm demeanor, impressive intellect, sound judgment and a strong work ethic, traits that earned him a reputation as a topflight criminal trial lawyer and the support of all segments of the local bar.

The underpinnings of Judge Bergstrom's success can be traced to his family and upbringing. As a child, he was repeatedly told that "life is a do-it-yourself job," a motto that was not only preached but faithfully practiced in his family. His father, a Swedish immigrant, came to the United States by himself at the age of 17, excelled in school and is now a distinguished Oregon physician. His mother came from a very poor family, but worked her way through college and graduate school to become a long-time teacher and, later, a successful realtor. Judge Bergstrom's family now owns and operates an award-winning winery in Dundee, where his brother is the head winemaker.

Hard work and self-reliance were expected from Judge Bergstrom at an early age. Through much of his childhood in Beaverton and also while pursuing his political science degree at the U of O, Judge Bergstrom held more odd jobs than he can remember and often several at a time, including berry picker, ski shop stock boy, cook, hardware store employee, upholsterer, lifeguard, swim instructor and landscaper.

After obtaining his law degree from Lewis & Clark, Judge Bergstrom went to work at the Multnomah County District Attorney's office. In his 15 years in the DA's office, Judge Bergstrom rose through the ranks and ultimately became the head of the Gang and Robbery Unit. He tried nearly every type of criminal case, from misdemeanor to death penalty cases. Among his most memorable was a groundbreaking racketeering case that he successfully brought against a street gang, a case that uncovered new tools for law enforcement to use in addressing gang activity but which was also plagued by the murders of three gang members during the pendency of the case.

Over the years, a number of attorneys and judges encouraged Judge Bergstrom to consider a move to the trial bench. After experiencing nearly all he could at the DA's office, he submitted his name for consideration. In August 2005, he met with Governor Kulongoski for what he thought would be one of many interviews the Governor would conduct before making an appointment to fill the position formerly held by Judge Rosenblum. Instead, and much to Judge Bergstrom's surprise, the Governor ended the meeting by announcing that he was appointing him to the position.

Judge Bergstrom is quick to credit his fellow Multnomah County judges for his smooth transition to the bench. He counts many of them as his close friends and valued mentors. One judge who made an early and lasting impression on him was the late William Keys, before whom he frequently appeared as a young deputy D.A. Judge Bergstrom fondly recalls the time he was in Judge Keys' courtroom when a bomb threat forced an evacuation of the courthouse. While the rest of the courthouse was evacuated, Judge Keys invited him into his chambers, where they patiently waited out the bomb threat talking and eating apple pie from his mini-fridge.

Notwithstanding the many demands of his professional life, Judge Bergstrom's foremost passion and priority is spending time with his two children. Whether it is participating in Cub Scouts or coaching their soccer and basketball teams, he remains deeply involved in all facets of their lives.

Judge Bergstrom enjoys running, biking and golf, but skiing has long been his favorite outdoor activity. While his days as a competitive ski racer are over, he still loves to hit the slopes and most of his recent family vacations have been to skiing locations.

A profile of Judge Bergstrom would not be complete without mentioning some other characteristics that may not be readily apparent in the courtroom. He is remarkably personable and disarming and has a rich sense of humor, which was on full display in his memorable performance at a lawyer stand-up comedy competition for charity.

Originally authored by Aaron Stuckey and printed in the December 2005 Multnomah Lawyer
Updated for the Internet in 2012