Judge Richard Clinton Baldwin

Multnomah County Circuit Court Judge Richard Baldwin

Every trial lawyer wants to try his case, allowing for the possibility that one's client has a fair chance at a successful outcome. Judge Baldwin agrees, "Let the lawyers try their cases, but let the judge create a respectful environment." With this philosophy, Judge Baldwin is truly a trial lawyer's judge.

Born and raised in San Jose, California, Richard "Dick" Baldwin's parents encouraged him to attend to the civic duties of his community, as they did - for his parents' contributions, Julia Baldwin Elementary School was named in his mother's honor. As a high school student in the early 1960s, Dick had fond memories of his varsity high school baseball team facing off against Hall of Fame athlete Jim Plunkett. Judge Baldwin muses in retrospect, "Jim was a talented athlete, and the highlight of my career was almost hitting a home run off Jim's fast ball."

Judge Baldwin attended San Jose City College, San Jose State University and Lewis & Clark School of Law. In the early 1970s he and his wife took a trip around the country to find a place to raise a family. They chose Portland and have resided here since 1972. He says, "I chose Lewis & Clark because they stressed public interest law."

After passing the Oregon Bar in 1977, he went to work at Multnomah County Legal Aid as a trial lawyer. From 1977-80, he practiced family law and in 1980, his practice shifted to landlord-tenant law. From 1981-90, he was a partner in the law firm of Baldwin and Brischetto, litigating in the areas of employment discrimination, personal injury and domestic relations. He returned to public interest law, and from 1990 - 1995 was the Director of Litigation for Multnomah County Legal Aid. From 1995 - March 2001, he served as Director of the Oregon Law Center.

Before taking the bench, he was extremely active in civic affairs. He was on the board of the Fair Housing Council and Raphael House, a shelter for battered women and their children and he served a term on the OSB Board of Governors. From 1998-2001, he served as Chair of the Judicial Department's Access to Justice For All Committee. In 1998, he was co-founder of Oregon Uniting, an organization promoting constructive interracial dialogue. In 1999, he received the Metropolitan Human Rights Center's Russell A. Peyton Award. He has served as board president for Uniting to Understand Racism, an educational non-profit devoted to increasing public awareness of the lingering effects of racism.

Judge Baldwin says, "I think you must be affirmatively aware of bias, and bias is simply unacceptable." Certainly, his background as a public interest lawyer and civic leader gives Judge Baldwin's words instant credibility, and he certainly serves our system of justice in a way that trial lawyers and common people can respect and gives integrity to the administration of justice. Maybe one day, we will name a new courthouse in honor of Judge Baldwin.

Originally authored by Earnest Warren Jr. and printed in the January 2002 Multnomah Lawyer
Updated for the Internet in 2012