Nancy Campbell JD ’79 Confronting Domestic Violence

Nancy Campbell JD ’79 Confronting Domestic Violence

Judge Judy she’s not. With her soft, soothing voice and reputation for fairness and bridge building, Washington County Circuit Court Judge Nancy Campbell is the antithesis of the raucous TV adjudicator.

“I see no reason not to be nice to people. It makes my job easier,” says Campbell, who, in 1988, became the county’s first female judge and one of only a dozen in Oregon at the time.

Her calm manner belies the horrors she’s witnessed as a former attorney specializing in domestic abuse and family relations and as an advocate for Washington County’s Domestic Violence Intervention Council. The organization—which includes law enforcement and probation departments, the domestic violence resource center, victim services, and area shelters—recently honored her for establishing the group in 1993 and for offering her unyielding support.

Campbell understands the struggles working families face. She divorced during law school and,as a single mother of three young children,struggled to stay afloat. She credits the flexibility of Lewis & Clark’s law program—which offers day and night classes—with helping her reach her goals.

A firm believer in second chances, Campbell has put teeth in Washington County’s deferred sentencing program.

“Defendants who plead guilty and who qualify are allowed to enter the program if they agree to meet a tremendous number of requirements within one year,” she says. These requirements include early and frequent meetings with probation officers, approximately 36 weeks of domestic violence treatment, parenting classes, drug and alcohol abuse counseling, polygraph testing, and random body substance testing; defendants are also allowed no contact with their victims for at least the first few months of the program. Charges are subsequently dropped for those who succeed—a number that has risen to 60 percent under Campbell’s direction.

Most frustrating to her are the burdens of courtroom routine and repeat offenders.“The drug methamphetamine wreaks havoc in people’s lives,”she says.

In the fall, Campbell hopes to launch a domestic violence educational program for victims and offenders in underserved populations, such as gay, lesbian, and transgender couples, as well as racial and ethnic minorities, the elderly, and people with disabilities.


“There is a lot we can do to make the system more acceptable and understanding about different cultures,” she says.


—by Pattie Pace