Student Makes Oral Argument to the Oregon Court of Appeals
Bruce Myers, 3L, argued a post-conviction relief (PCR) appeal in front of the Oregon Court of Appeals on August 1, 2019 as part of his externship with O’Connor Weber, LLC. “The experience was incredible,” Myers stated. “Being up at the podium, looking at the panel, and answering their questions was surreal.”
Myers became interested in the PCR process when he participated in the Criminal Justice Reform Clinic where he worked on a pilot program to improve youth access to courts while in custody in Oregon.
The following summer, Myers secured an externship at O’Connor Weber LLC. “During my interview, one of the partners asked if I would be interested in possibly arguing a case in the Oregon Court of Appeals. I thought, ‘do people say no?’”
Myers then began working on the PCR case, shortly before the case was to be argued before the Court of Appeals and after briefs had already been filed. Because he was not involved in the case earlier he needed to understand the briefing on both sides and analyze the case law for his argument. He also spent time watching previous arguments in the Court of Appeals to witness different styles and types of advocacy. “I had multiple moots with the attorneys in the firm to get ready for the big day and they worked hard to make sure that I was prepared,” Myers explained. “I was understandably nervous during those weeks leading up to argument but the firm did a good job making sure I never felt out of control.”
The case Myers argued for stated that the client’s criminal defense attorney was constitutionally ineffective because the attorney failed to accurately advise the client of the immigration consequences of his guilty plea. The legal question revolved around counsel’s requirements under Padilla v. Kentucky. Padilla sets a standard for criminal defense attorneys advising their non-citizen clients. Basically, if immigration consequences are clear, counsel’s advice needs to be equally clear. Oregon has interpreted Padilla a couple of times, but this will be the first time the Oregon Court of Appeals has had an opportunity to address this specific issue.
The Court of Appeals has not yet issued an opinion for this case, but the opinion is anticipated sometime between the beginning of December 2019 and Summer 2020.