Appellate Pro Bono Program

Modeled after the pro bono program in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, the program creates a pool of volunteer attorneys willing to represent pro se litigants in appellate cases. The Oregon Supreme Court or Court of Appeals selects cases in which the court would benefit from attorney representation.

Any active member of the bar is eligible to participate.  In addition to assisting the courts in appropriate cases, the program is also intended to provide members of the bar with appellate experience. Members of the bar who are interested in receiving e-mail announcements about available cases should send an e-mail to orappprobono@gmail.com. The email should include your name, bar number, email address, phone number, and mailing address.

Below is a sample notification of a case referred to the program:

“Greetings, everyone.
The Oregon Court of Appeals has referred the below case to the program in order to determine whether volunteer counsel is available to represent respondent on appeal.  This case involves a dispute over custody and visitation of a minor child. The plaintiff /appellant (represented by counsel below and on appeal) appeals from a judgment that grants relief from default and sets aside a default judgment relating to visitation rights, denies plaintiff’s motions for temporary and extended visitation, for sole custody, and to hold defendant in contempt.  Respondent proceeded pro se at trial and has, so far, done the same on appeal.

As with all cases referred to the pro bono program, selection of a case for the program does not represent a determination by the Court of the merits of any side of or theory in the case, but simply a belief that representation by counsel may assist the Court in its review. 

If, after reviewing the below information carefully, you are interested and would be available to handle this matter pro bono, please respond to this email as soon as possible.  No need to respond if you are unavailable.

Before volunteering, please review the Statement of Program Principles for the program, available here, particularly parts III, IV, and V.  Note that the program does not have funds available to cover costs; issues regarding costs will need to be addressed with the prospective client.  According to the trial court record, this client has previously requested and received waivers or deferrals of fees due to indigency.

Out of those attorneys who respond, we will randomly select one, and be in touch with that attorney regarding initial contact with the potential client (including contact information, checking conflicts, etc.).  (We will likely make the initial assignment no later than Friday morning, 4/22.)   You would still need to discuss representation as you would with any client, though this would be on pro bono terms, and (for the moment, at least) limited to the appeal.

If you are not experienced in appellate work, and would like to have an experienced appellate counsel as a mentor, let us know when you volunteer and we will try to match you up if you are selected.

Please send any inquiries to me and Derek Green at this email address.  Thanks again for your willingness to participate.

Jeff Dobbins
Willamette U. College of Law

Oregon Appellate Pro Bono Program Case #0005

Summary:  The Oregon Court of Appeals has referred to the program an appeal in which pro bono representation of respondent might be of assistance to the court.  As noted above, this case involves a dispute over custody and visitation of a minor child.  Plaintiff / appellant Jaquelin Gardner (represented by counsel below and on appeal) appeals from a judgment (Lincoln Co. Cir. Ct.) that grants relief from default and sets aside a default judgment relating to visitation rights, and also denies plaintiff’s motions for temporary and extended visitation, for sole custody, and to hold defendant / respondent (Marci Rae Taylor) in contempt.  Defendant / respondent Taylor proceeded pro se at trial and has proceeded so far on appeal pro se.  She has approached the clerk’s office seeking assistance with the filing of a brief.
Referral from: Oregon Court of Appeals
Status:  Briefing Pending in Oregon Court of Appeals (answering brief due)
Case Title Marci Taylor, Jacquelin E Gardner v. Marci Rae Taylor, Court of Appeals No. A144895
Possible Need for Counsel for: Respondent Marci Rae Taylor
Deadlines:  Respondent’s Answering Brief due 5/26.”