Multnomah County declares Dec. 20 Michael D. Schrunk Day for legendary DA

Thursday, 12/20/12 - 5:46 pm

On Thursday, the Multnomah County Board of Commissioners unanimously proclaimed Dec. 20 as Michael D. Schrunk Day in recognition of his years of service as District Attorney.

The proclamation comes shortly after Schrunk’s decision to retire after 32 years of acclaimed public service.

Schrunk grew up in Portland and graduated from Roosevelt High in 1960 where he was a three-year letterman in football as quarterback; basketball as a guard; and baseball as catcher. He also accomplished “All City” honors in all three sports. At Portland State University, he was a two-year letterman in football and basketball. In 2009, he was inducted into the Portland Interscholastic League Hall of Fame where his father is included, among others.

He graduated from the University of Oregon Law School then served three years as a captain with the U.S. Marine Corps in Vietnam.

Schrunk joined the District Attorney’s Office in 1970, left to enter private practice, then returned to the Multnomah County and was elected District Attorney in 1981. Schrunk remained at the county ever since, serving with more than 300 prosecutors, 14 police chiefs, eight county sheriffs, five mayors, and more than a couple dozen county board members.

Multnomah County Chief Criminal Judge Julie Frantz has known Schrunk for decades.

“While deeply committed to policies that protect and promote public safety, Mike has always been known for doing the right thing,” Frantz said. “Not bowing to political pressures or the loudest voices in issues of fairness and public safety.”

Chair Jeff Cogen thanked Shrunk for being a living example of how to build consensus, bring out the best in people and carry out public service.

“As someone who cares not only about a given issue but about the concept of public service, I really respect the way you embody what a public servant should be,” Cogen said. “I think that there are a lot of us who have been inspired by that.”

During Schrunk’s career, the District Attorney has also organized initiatives like the Neighborhood District Attorney Program, the Drug Court and Portland’s Community Court Project.

“Your commitment to innovation and the criminal justice system can be seen all across this country,” Commissioner Diane McKeel said.

Commissioner Loretta Smith praised Schrunk’s commitment to senior issues and proclaimed his lasting legacy.

Schrunk’s achievements have happened in the wake of budget cuts, crime waves and leadership changes.

“The lesson that you teach evidently to (everyone) who came through your office is that the job is about doing justice,” Commissioner Judy Shiprack said. “It’s not about winning.”

Schrunk was also praised for his calm, wry temperament. Commissioner Deborah Kafoury said that his sense of humor was comforting, especially in trying situations.

Succeeding Schrunk is Chief Deputy Rod Underhill, who brings to the table over two decades of experience in the Multnomah County justice system.

“These are big shoes to fill,” Underhill said. “The office will continue the tradition of doing the best work that we can and we’re optimistic that we’ll be uninterrupted in delivering service to our community.”