Criminal Justice Project

The Criminal Justice Project comprises of 4 sub-projects, all advancing criminal justice reform through integrative advocacy: (1) Amicus Project, (2) the Death Penalty, (3) Eighth Amendment Project, (4) the Oregon Sentencing Reform Project. 

Amicus Project

The OJRC's mission is to dismantle systemic discrimination in the administration of justice by promoting civil rights and enhancing the quality of legal representation for traditionally underserved communities. Our work is rooted in the understanding that one of our greatest challenges and the civil rights issue of our time is the representation of those individuals who are accused of crimes and wrongfully or unfairly incarcerated in our prisons.  In so doing, we recognize that the population of incarcerated persons in Oregon and nationwide is overwhelmingly poor and disproportionately comprised of people of color.

 The Amicus Curiae Project mission is to provide amicus assistance on the state level in cases that present significant social justice issues that are related to criminal defense, civil rights, juvenile justice, or are of particular importance to traditionally underserved communities.

 As part of its mission to advance civil rights and liberties through advocacy, the OJRC will be engaged in drafting, as well as signing on to, amicus briefs on cutting-edge social justice issues facing the courts.  In this effort, the OJRC is particularly committed to dismantling systemic discrimination in the administration of justice by promoting civil liberties and enhancing the quality of legal representation to traditionally underserved communities. 

An amicus curiae ("friend of the court") brief is an important way for the Oregon Justice Resource Center to contribute its analysis of important but undeveloped aspects of critical cases.

If you are in the process of litigating a case and you would like the OJRC to submit an amicus brief on your behalf, please send your request to info@ojrc.org. There is no guarantee that we will be able to or will want to write a brief for each submission, but we will review all submissions to see if the cases in question warrant our attention.

Please provide a short memo summarizing the following:

a. Case name (full name of the parties) and number. 
b. Procedural posture.
c. Briefing schedule/calendar (actual and possible extensions).
d. Summary of facts.
e. Summary of issue(s) that the OJRC should weigh-in on.
f.  Name and contact information of attorneys: trial, appellate, PCR
g. Misc. considerations. 

Email your memo as an attached word document to info@ojrc.org

 OJRC Lawyers' Committee: The Lawyers’ Committee is authorized to determine that OJRC will participate as amicus.

  • Lindsey Burrows, Co-Chair
  • Sara Werboff. Co-Chair
  • Shauna Curphey
  • Elizabeth Daily
  • Emily Elison
  • Jordan Silk
  • Hadley Van Vactor Kroll
  • Alex Wheatley

OJRC Briefs

  • Haugen v. Kitzhaber (Clemency Power of the Governor)
  • Oregon v. DeLong (Article I, Section 12, OR Constitution)
  • Miguel Cabrera-Cruz v. Oregon (ICE Detainers)
  • Oregon v. Hickman (via Oregon Innocence Project, Eyewitness Identification)
  • Oregon v. Johnson (via Oregon Innocence Project, "Knowing" Waiver and Access to DNA Testing)
  • Jose Antonio Gonzalez Verduzco v. Oregon (What rule should Oregon courts apply in post-conviction proceedings to determine whether redress will be available for violations of the constitutional right recognized in Padilla v. Kentucky, to be adequately advised by counsel as to the immigration consequences of a criminal conviction?)
  • Oregon v. Prieto-Rubio (Under Article I, section 11, of the Oregon Constitution, when may police question an incarcerated individual who is represented by counsel?)
  • Oregon v. Jimenez (Police stops)
  • Tyson v. Brockamp (Does defense counsel’s failure to apprise his expert witness of the goal and purpose of the expert testimony as related to the legal issues, failure to ensure that the expert has all materials that the expert needs to prepare and present his testimony, and failure to inform the expert about critical facts relating to the defendant’s experiences of abuse and her batterer’s abusive behavior have a tendency to affect the outcome of a trial?)

Eighth Amendment Project

Working under the direct supervision of an experienced criminal defense practitioner, students will consider an array of strategies for qualified prisoners, including identifying legal grounds for sentencing reductions, clemency petitions, and compassionate release applications based upon serious medical conditions. The Eighth Amendment Project serves as a as both a “Second Look” center and a clemency center. 

Students receive training in investigation techniques; examine doctrine governing the selection of cases;  and discuss their work and research with fellow classmates. Students must adhere strictly to rules regarding confidentiality and privilege and should be prepared to adjust to the demands of litigation.

Students serve an important role by reviewing trial records, examining evidence,  and preparing clemency petitions. These activities challenge students to hone their skills at problem solving, legal analysis, legal research, fact investigation, oral and written communication, client interviewing and counseling, and efficient management of practice. Students will gain the skills necessary to provide zealous, professional, and high-quality representation.

Death penalty

The OJRC works closely with the national Eighth Amendment Project and leads a Working Group, consisting of six other local non-profits, identifying all potential paths to repealing the death penalty in Oregon. The Governor’s moratorium on executions in Oregon, the slowdown in new sentences, and the gradual but steady shift in public opinion at the national level all speak to the tremendous opportunity for death penalty opponents in the state right now. The OJRC is guiding the Working Group in a united effort to end the death penalty by studying public opinion on the death penalty; conducting legal research on the problems with Oregon’s death penalty; reaching out to opinion leaders and decision makers; and building our capacity and infrastructure for an eventual repeal of the death penalty in law or practice. Learn more here.

The Oregon Sentencing Reform Project

Coming soon.

For more information or if you have any questions please contact us at Info@OJRC.org