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Criminal Justice Reform Clinic (CJRC)

Brendan Hooks

I spent my time in the Criminal Justice Reform Clinic working on parole and clemency cases. Over the course of the year, I was part of two petitions for executive clemency, one asking for a pardon and the other a commutation of sentence. These were very rewarding opportunities to tell a person’s life story in the course of advocating on their behalf, rather than simply making legal arguments. I was also involved in two parole cases. These clients were men who had spent years incarcerated at Oregon State Penitentiary and were going before the Board of Parole. I spent a lot of time at the prison interviewing them and helping them prepare for the questions they would face from the Board. Additionally, I worked with another student to develop a manual on Oregon’s parole system to assist future Clinic students. I am currently a CLS with Metropolitan Public Defenders, and I hope to continue a career in public defense after I graduate.

The CJRC helped me feel comfortable as an advocate for the first time. It made me feel good about meeting with clients and talking about difficult subjects, rather than feeling like I was pretending to be a lawyer. I feel very lucky to have had this experience as a student.