October 27, 2022

Professor Receives Awards for Outstanding Criminal Justice Work

Three awards were given to Professor Aliza Kaplan, Director of the Criminal Justice Reform Clinic and Professor of Lawyering for her criminal justice work in Oregon.

Professor Aliza Kaplan, director of the Criminal Justice Reform Clinic and professor of lawyering, was commended for her outstanding criminal justice work in Oregon with three awards this year.

This fall, Kaplan will receive the American Constitution Society Oregon Lawyer Chapter’s 2022 Hans Linde Award. This award celebrates professor Kaplan’s “outstanding advocacy through the Criminal Justice Reform Clinic at Lewis & Clark” as well as her “other reform efforts here in Oregon and beyond.”

John Parry, Associate Dean of Faculty and constitution law scholar, praised Kaplan’s work. “Aliza Kaplan’s unrelenting determination to seek justice is admirable and inspiring. We have watched her question the huge forces of status quo and advocate for those who have little voice in our criminal justice system in Oregon. We are so proud of what she and her Criminal Justice Reform Clinic students and staff have accomplished.”

In June 2022, Kaplan received the OCDLA President’s Award. The award celebrates Professor Kaplan “for her tireless advocacy, scholarship, and educational efforts which helped overturn non-unanimous jury verdicts in the last state in the union, for continuing to fight: through legislation, litigation, and teaching students how to stand up for the defenseless in post-conviction, clemency, and parole, and for standing strong as a beacon of hope for those who need it most and doing so with grace, kindness, and a good sense of humor.”

The OCDLA is Oregon’s statewide organization for defense lawyers. It was founded in 1979 and serves as a voice for the criminal defense bar in Oregon. Members include both private defense attorneys and public defenders, and is an affiliate of the National Criminal Defense Lawyers Association.

The OCDLA award was a surprise for Professor Kaplan. She said she was “honored to receive [this] award from her peers,” especially because “the defense community in Oregon is filled with so many terrific attorneys and fighters for justice.”

On behalf of the Criminal Justice Reform Clinic (CJRC), Professor Kaplan also received the Juneteenth Award from the Uhura Sassa Culture Group at the Oregon State Penitentiary. This was the first Juneteenth Award from the group ever awarded, and “is dedicated to the Lewis & Clark Criminal Justice Reform Clinic, in recognition of their advocacy for freedom and the hope they bring to others.”

Uhura Sassa is the Black cultural group inside Oregon State Penitentiary. Established in 1968, Uhuru Sasa provides cultural, vocational, and educational development for members, while also supporting community efforts beyond the prison walls. The award was given as part of their Juneteenth celebration.

This award was also a surprise to Professor Kaplan. She “went to the celebration and was just so happy to be there after spending so little time in the prisons and with clients because of COVID.” Receiving the award felt great, but she wished “others from CJRC (students and lawyers) were with her to receive it.” She felt incredibly grateful for the award because “while it is always nice to get an award, getting it from the population you serve is really moving.”