Coronavirus Information and Update: Spring 2021 Plans

June 01, 2011

James Aaron

Metropolitan Public Defender, Washington County, OR

Metropolitan Public Defender, Portland, Oregon 

Metropolitan Public Defender provides representation to indigent people accused of crimes in Multnomah and Washington Counties, as well as to people facing involuntary commitment and juveniles or parents in juvenile dependency cases. They take on all types of cases from misdemeanors to capital offenses.


I first got involved at MPD through the ACLU of Oregon student group, which arranged for students to volunteer for MPD. I volunteered because of my interest in I worked with MPD’s training director to organize and categorize appellate cases dealing with sentencing. I wanted to volunteer because I was interested in working in some way to protect civil liberties and realized that civil liberties are attacked most routinely in criminal cases, especially indigent defendants.


This summer, I was primarily paired with an attorney in MPD’s Washington County office and prepared research memos on issues of importance in his cases and drafted motions to suppress evidence or dismiss based on that research. Most invaluably, I observed several trials, watched the attorney argue the motions I wrote, and even got a chance to help take notes for voir dire. In addition, I helped out at MPD’s weekly expungement clinic, which helps people who have served out their sentence get their records cleared. I verified clients’ eligibility and prepared the paperwork needed for them to file in court. I also wrote a variety of posts for Oregon Criminal Defense Lawyers Association’s Library of Defense, including weekly summaries of Oregon Court of Appeals and Supreme Court cases, a manual on interstate extradition proceedings, a manual on the imposition of restitution after conviction, and memos on topics like retention of property extending a stop and the confrontation and hearsay implications of translated statements. The Library of Defense is used state-wide by public defenders to stay on top of criminal law in the state.


My summer was a rewarding, hands-on experience and I am very grateful that PILP was able to make it possible.