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CJRC Triumphant in Parole Case

July 02, 2019

During the spring semester 2019, the Criminal Justice Reform Clinic of Lewis & Clark Law School (CJRC) was successful in a parole hearing called a “murder review” for a prisoner who was convicted as a juvenile. 

Lehman was 17 when he was sentenced to life in the Oregon Department of Corrections (DOC) for a murder he committed in 1994. On April 10, 2019, Lehman went before the Board for his second review hearing, seeking to change the terms of confinement to a life term with the possibility of parole or work release. This order hinged on whether the board found that he was likely to be rehabilitated within a reasonable period of time, and with the counsel of the Criminal Justice Reform Clinic (CJRC), Lehman was able to demonstrate his path of personal growth.

Representing Lehman at the hearing was third year law student Mieke de Vrind supported by Director of CJRC, Professor Aliza Kaplan. De Vrind called Lehman weekly to discuss his childhood, his crime, and his self-improvement while incarcerated. She drafted Lehman’s parole memorandum and asked him direct questions at the hearing to help him tell the Board his story. 

“I was taught that relationship building is a key component of effective advocacy. Getting to know him was a tremendous gift and has solidified my desire to work with people after conviction,” de Vrind said. “Not only did we build a strong relationship, but I also gained valuable insight into how violence can serve as a coping mechanism for trauma.” 

Speaking about Mieke deVrind and the Clinic, Professor Kapan noted, “Mieke did an amazing job on Jeremy’s case. This kind of hands on training and lawyering with supervision which included client interviewing, writing, preparing witnesses, representing a client in front of the parole board, all helps prepare our students to hit the ground running when they graduate. Students participating in CJRC have a chance to work directly within the justice system and make a real difference in the lives of our clients.

Lehman has done the work during his more than 25 years in prison through programming, education, counseling, employment and has committed wholeheartedly to his recovery. He takes the principles of AA seriously, has private therapy, and now openly speaks about the crime he committed and the ramifications of it on his victims. His therapist reports that she has “rarely seen a case of such improvement and positive change in one person in such a short period of time.” His daughter describes him as “always happy” and someone who “tries to make the best out of bad or uncomfortable situations.”

Professor Aliza Kaplan noted in the petition to the parole board, “Today, Jeremy epitomizes openness and vulnerability. He serves as a leader in all his groups and brings his full authentic self to each meeting. He understands the root of his anger and assaultive behavior, Although Jeremy always understood the devastation of his crime, he now understands he needed to face and address his personal history in order to truly understand how he was capable of committing an act of extreme violence. Now, he understands his past provides valuable information for his recovery. He comes before the Board transformed.”

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