Judge Cheryl AlbrechtMultnomah County Circuit Court Judge Cheryl Albrecht
Born in Texas, Judge Albrecht thinks of Louisiana as her home. After graduating from Louisiana State University with a bachelor's degree in journalism, Albrecht wanted nothing more than to be a music writer. She therefore moved to Los Angeles to pursue her passion, which she did for a little under a year. Not particularly enjoying the LA area, she moved back to her Louisiana "home town," Lafayette, where she got a job as a "Jill of all trades" for the local daily paper. She covered a variety of beats, including schools, the federal courts, economic development and the environment. She was also an editor for news from a seven parish area. She held this position for two years, and then out of the blue decided to take the LSAT. She was admitted to both NYU and Lewis & Clark and decided to attend the latter, from which she graduated in 1993.
During her time as a law student, Judge Albrecht clerked at Rieke & Savage, primarily a criminal defense firm. After she graduated and passed the bar, she was the first woman hired as a criminal defense associate at that firm. There, she handled a large caseload which included major felonies and murders. Her job became much tougher after the passage of Ballot Measure 11, and she believes the system still struggles from the measure's many issues.
After taking some time off from her firm, Judge Albrecht was hired to replace Michael McShane, a permanent pro tem judge, who was promoted to the circuit court bench. She did that job from 2001 until she was elected to the bench in 2006. While fairly new to the circuit court bench, Judge Albrecht has great insight into the courts. In her opinion, "misdemeanors run the court." By that, she means that the sheer volume of misdemeanor cases coming before the court swallows up huge amounts of court time (both judges and staff) in resolving these cases in a timely manner. For that reason, she believes the court should explore still more methods of settling criminal cases. The rising number of pro se litigants on the civil side of the aisle is another concern of the courts. Partially as a result of this, Judge Albrecht believes judges have become case managers as much as the other roles they play. That does not take away a judge's responsibility to develop keen listening skills and to learn to make decisions quickly, however, in her opinion. She sees the Multnomah County bench as being extremely collegial, with judges eager to assist each other, in particular the newer judges.
Judge Albrecht loved being a judge from day one of her appointment as a permanent pro tem judge. And, despite her background primarily in criminal law, Albrecht looks forward to handling the whole gamut of cases the Multnomah County bench hears. She says she learned a lot running for her position and attended most of the summer's festivals handing out campaign literature. She compares the experience to an eight month bar exam!
When not in her role as judge, Albrecht pursues her love of music by attending many live music events in town. She also acquired a drum set for her birthday and looks forward to learning to play. Her other love is being a mentor in the "Write Around Portland" organization. This is a nonprofit association sponsoring creative writing groups for at-risk populations. "Write Around Portland" organizers have developed a preset curriculum, and volunteers like Judge Albrecht take responsibility for implementing the curriculum with whichever group to whom they are assigned. These groups create a safe space for people to write and Albrecht has noticed that most participants improve their self esteem through this process. Although she does not identify her profession when leading a group, Albrecht has declined to lead groups based in county jails and prisons; however, fearing she might have someone she sentenced in her group. This work with the organization has helped her stay creative. In fact, she has four chapters of a novel written.
Judge Cheryl Albrecht is truly a shining light on the local bench.
Originally authored by Theresa Wright and printed in the March 2007 Multnomah Lawyer
Updated for the Internet in 2012