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National Crime Victim Law Institute

Pro Bono Attorney Spotlight: Melanie Kebler

November 01, 2013

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Melanie Kebler is an attorney and former prosecutor who has served as a pro bono attorney assisting with amicus briefs and legal technical assistance for NCVLI as well as representing victims directly through NCVLI and our partner organization, the Oregon Crime Victims Law Center (OCVLC).  We are so grateful to have Melanie’s ongoing support.  Read what she has to say about working in victims’ rights.

What do you do when you’re not at NCVLI?
I like to get outdoors and try to stay active. I enjoy rock climbing and also play on an indoor soccer team. I also enjoy video games and board games, and like to get together with friends often to play.

How did you get involved with NCVLI and victims’ rights? 
When I was a law student in my third year at Lewis & Clark Law School, I took the Crime Victim Litigation Clinic class - a partnership between NCVLI and Lewis & Clark. I found it very interesting and enjoyed working on actual NCVLI projects. Later, when I became a prosecutor after passing the bar, victims’ rights were part of my job and I contacted NCVLI often with questions or issues.

What is something that stands out in your work with NCVLI?  
I really enjoyed a chance to work with a pro bono client through NCVLI this summer in a stalking order case. The current status of legal aid programs in Oregon is such that the need is far greater than the supply of free legal representation that people really need, especially when it comes to victimization and protective orders. So, organizations like NCVLI that work to help victims get connected with pro bono lawyers are invaluable. I’ve also enjoyed helping research legal issues to aid NCVLI with briefs and memos. Promoting and educating on victims’ rights in all avenues, including at trial and in appeals, is also very important.

How have you partenered with NCVLI in your work as a prosecutor and your pro bono work with OCVLC?
As a prosecutor, I partnered with NCVLI by asking for advice, for example memos, or by just having a conversation about a particular issue with NCVLI attorneys. In my pro bono work with OCVLC, I have had the chance to help victims in a variety of types of criminal cases. OCVLC is another organization that really fills that need for victims who need legal representation. NCVLI and OCVLC really support each other when it comes to handling victims’ rights issues. I really felt supported in my pro bono work helping clients to assert and protect their rights in criminal cases around the state. 

What do you see as the future of victims’ rights/justice for victims?
Victims’ rights have come so far, yet we still have a long way to go. I think the work NCVLI has done with the military has been amazing and I see that as a new area in which victims’ rights are going to be greatly advanced in the next few years. In other arenas, I think we will continue to see more victims with attorneys and more attorneys willing and able to take on victims’ rights issues. In addition, I think there is a growing emphasis in the prosecutorial community on learning about victims’ rights, supporting victims throughout the criminal case, and working together with victims’ attorneys to achieve just outcomes. All of these things mean a bright future for victims’ rights.