After nearly 43 years serving in Clark County, Judge Zimmerman informs County Chair Eileen Quiring O’Brien of his intention to retire
Clark County District Court Judge Darvin Zimmerman has informed Clark County Chair Eileen Quiring O’Brien that he is retiring after nearly 43 years on the bench in the area. Zimmerman did not announce an official date for his retirement.
Zimmerman’s attorney, Josephine Townsend, shared Zimmerman’s letter of resignation with Clark County Today Wednesday afternoon.
“I have thoroughly enjoyed serving the public and coming to the courthouse campus for nearly 43 years, even the 50- and 60-hour work weeks,’’ Zimmerman wrote in the letter. “I feel sadness is [sic] that this will soon come to an end.’’
In March, Clark County’s Superior Court judges sent a letter to Zimmerman stating that they were revoking his authority to perform any Clark County Superior Court judicial officer functions, including the ability to preside over any cases.
The action by the court’s 11 judges and four commissioners occurred a week after Zimmerman was criticized for comments he made about the officer-involved shooting death of Kevin Peterson Jr., a 21-year-old Camas resident who died in an officer-involved shooting in Hazel in October.
Zimmerman was not aware he was being viewed on a video when he was discussing the officer-involved shooting of Peterson with a member of the court staff on March 8. His comments were widely criticized by a number of elected officials and community leaders who expressed concern over whether or not the 70-year-old Zimmerman should continue in his capacity as a judge.
Among the comments made by Zimmerman on the video was a description of Peterson as “the Black guy they were trying to make an angel out of.’’ Zimmerman also said he believed Peterson had a death wish and “was so dumb’’ because he thought he would likely face considerable time in jail or prison, when in fact the judge believed Peterson would have faced little or no incarceration time.
The Clark County Prosecuting Attorney’s office and city of Vancouver Attorney Jonathan Young each indicated they would seek to prevent or disqualify Zimmerman from presiding over any cases involving the city and county.
In a statement, Zimmerman apologized for his comments and said he was going to take some time off. Sources close to Zimmerman told Clark County Today that the judge has essentially been in seclusion after receiving death threats, something he referenced in his letter of resignation.
“To those that have taken the time to wish me harm or even death, may God Bless you,’’ Zimmerman wrote. “If you really knew me, you would know that I speak out for issues you might support. I hope than [sic] many may join me in supporting the marginalized communities. Something I have done my whole life.
“I will continue to speak out on behalf of Veterans and honor them,’’ Zimmerman wrote. “I will continue to ask why many of our jails are the largest mental health facilities in the state and why do we rank nearly last in the funding of mental health for the entire nation. We can do better, and I will be asking why we are not doing better.
“Things that our now of [sic] a national debate such as mental heath [sic] responders aiding the police are programs we initiated months ago and our [sic] now realizing the effectiveness and how they can save lives. I will continue my efforts to expand that throughout the county. So, in short there is lots of work to do to make Clark County a better and safer place. Including the launching of the first mental health arrest diversion program in the state here in Clark County.’’
Zimmerman said in the time since he has stepped away from the bench, he had continued his efforts to serve the community.
“As for my current situation, I am not vacationing, but working on numerous community projects and scheduling some major medical procedures,’’ Zimmerman wrote. “After consultation with the medical professionals, I will be giving an official date of retirement.’’
To read Zimmerman’s full statement, go here.