Melanie Kebler, JD, Senior Staff Attorney
Melanie Kebler has worked as a crime victims’ rights attorney for six years now. As OCVLC’s Senior Staff Attorney, Ms. Kebler heads the center’s new satellite office located in Bend. Prior to joining OCVLC, Ms. Kebler was as a prosecutor for the Yamhill County District Attorney’s Office where she prosecuted crimes of violence between intimate partners. Her first job after law school was as a Deputy District Attorney with the Lincoln County District Attorney’s Office, where she worked with the local judiciary to create a dedicated Domestic Violence Court. Throughout her career as a prosecutor, Ms. Kebler worked closely with victims and victim advocates to ensure that crime victims received compassionate, fair treatment. At OCVLC, she continues assist victims in protecting and asserting their rights and helps ensure them a voice in the legal system. Ms. Kebler holds a BA in English from the University of Michigan and a JD from Lewis & Clark Law School in Portland, Oregon.
How did participating in CVLC inform your thinking about law and/or your career path?
I never anticipated that my career path would be one focused on criminal law, but that’s where I ended up, and I’m so glad that I had the experience of the Crime Victim Litigation Clinic before I became a prosecutor. Learning about the history of victims’ rights in our country and in Oregon really helped me frame my work as a prosecutor as work that was being done not in a vacuum, but with real life consequences for those people unwittingly thrust into the criminal legal system: crime victims. Knowledge of victims’ rights also helped me to do my job well and lead me to my current position at OCVLC, where I get to be on the front lines of a still new and evolving area of law.
When someone asks you what victims’ rights are or why victims’ rights are important, what do you tell them?
I tell people that victims’ rights are a crucial part of our system that gives victims a voice in the criminal case, which is something we need in order to truly achieve justice in our criminal legal system. Victims’ rights are so important because all too often the courts focus on the rights of the defendants, or the actions of the State, and don’t give enough consideration to the victims’ point of view or how the crime has affected them. When victims’ have their own, specific, enforceable rights, that forces the system to hear them and elevates victim perspectives so that more just results are achieved. Though we still have a lot of work to do in America to reform our criminal legal system, victims’ rights are a crucial part of a functioning system, and should never be ignored.
If you could say one thing to a student considering taking the CVLC what would it be?
Do it! You can never get enough practical experience in law school. Researching, writing a brief, working as a team, and working on real cases is the best way to develop yourself for a job after law school. And if you see yourself working in any type of role in the criminal legal system, you must take this clinic!