The Honorable Jacqueline Alarcon at the Oregon Hispanic Bar Association (OHBA) dinner, celebrating OHBA’s 20 years of service and receiving the Paul J. De Muniz Professionalism Award.

Having the vision to improve access to justice for marginalized communities is no small task. It takes empathy, a listening ear and a path toward equity. Judge Jacqueline L. Alarcón has taken steps to make sure that vision comes to fruition.

She grew up in El Salvador and moved to Oregon as a high school student. Being part of a minority group in her new home helped her understand marginalized communities’ challenges and pressures, which led her to pursue a law degree at Willamette University in Salem. Her passion for helping families and desire for equitable outcomes motivated her to become a judge. She believes that the judiciary should reflect the community it serves. 

"I want to ensure that all parties are treated with respect while providing a full and fair opportunity to be heard," said Judge Alarcón.

Before becoming a Multnomah County Circuit Court Judge, Alarcón was a family law attorney for 11 years. She dedicated much of her time doing pro bono work through Legal Aid Services of Oregon and personal requests from minority community members or other community-based organizations. She helped individuals and families who could not afford a lawyer.

An example of her equity work is the creation of the East County Judicial Settlement Conference. Judge Alarcón, with the help of Judge Susan Svetkey, advocated for this program to better support the large population of immigrants and people of color in East Multnomah County. Attorneys are required to mediate cases before going in front of a judge. Private mediators are expensive, and the Settlement Conference program is a low-cost opportunity to mediate with a pro tem (part-time) judge, fulfilling the requirement. The location of the program was also intentional because transportation and parking downtown is a barrier for a large percentage of that population. The East County Courthouse offers a MAX stop and bus stop nearby, free parking, free childcare and inexpensive food options.

Alarcón serves her community in other ways. She is the president of the Multnomah Bar Association and Oregon Women Lawyers. She is a board member of Basic Rights Oregon and Familias en Acción and has volunteered with Latino Network. Judge Alarcon previously served as Chair of the Oregon State Bar’s Advisory Committee for Diversity and Inclusion.