Malheur County gets new top prosecutor from Astoria

Dave Goldthorpe, senior district attorney in Clatsop County, starts work Jan. 3 as Malheur County's new district attorney. -Submitted photo Dave Goldthorpe, senior district attorney in Clatsop County, starts work Jan. 3 as Malheur County’s new district attorney. -Submitted photo

By Les Zaitz

The Enterprise

ASTORIA – Dave Goldthorpe was in an Astoria courtroom last week so couldn’t catch the call that came in from the governor’s office.

“When I saw the missed call, I closed the door to my office to get some privacy and returned the call,” Goldthorpe said. “My stomach was in knots because at this point I still didn’t know if this was a call to ask me to serve or to convey consolation.”

He was asked to serve – winning appointment to be Malheur County’s next district attorney.

Goldthorpe, 35, currently is a senior deputy district attorney in the Clatsop County district attorney’s office. Gov. Kate Brown last week announced his appointment effective Jan. 3.

He will take over a job vacated last October with the resignation of Dan Norris and handled on an interim basis by Colin Benson, a senior state assistant attorney general.

Goldthorpe is no stranger to the area. He was raised near Boise, where his parents and the parents of his wife still live. Getting closer to that family was one reason Goldthorpe applied for the Vale job.

He graduated from Brigham Young University in 2006 and from Willamette University College of Law in 2009.

He worked as a corrections officer in Idaho in 2005, and then spent a year at the Marion County district attorney’s office as a law clerk. He said his trial experience handling misdemeanor cases there attracted him to work as a prosecutor.

“I wanted to spend the rest of my career in a courtroom after the first day,” Goldthorpe said.

He joined the Clatsop County office in January 2010, and now handles major felony cases.

Goldthorpe said one of his biggest challenges as a prosecutor was to learn how to handle domestic violence cases. He said he initially was frustrated working with victims who, despite the violence they endured, would return to abusive partners.

He said he found he had “this ability to talk to victims to help them get through what they are going through.”

He said even if victims decide not to press charges, “I’m still going to seek to protect them.”

He said he is already getting up to speed on crime issues in Malheur County. He said there appears to be a high property crime rate in Ontario and there are major cases coming out of the Snake River Correctional Institution.

In Astoria, Goldthorpe earlier this year ran for circuit court judge. He said he decided to run when no other prosecutor wanted to seek election to a vacant seat. He said he lost to a veteran local attorney.

He said he’s focused on being Malheur County’s prosecutor.

“I plan to be dedicated to this career path for as long as possible,” Goldthorpe said.