Benjamin Gutman, Solicitor General
Paul Smith, Deputy Solicitor General
The Appellate Division strives to effectively represent the state's interests and to advance the rule of law in all cases in state and federal courts in which the State is either a party or has an interest. The Division in performing its work seeks to accommodate the appellate courts' dual role of deciding cases before them and announcing "the law" in a way that becomes binding precedent for the State and its citizens. In its work in the appellate courts, therefore, the Appellate Division strives not simply to advance a position that best represents the state's interests. The Division also must take great care to ensure that it presents its legal arguments in a manner that takes full advantage of the opportunity each case presents to influence the court's law-announcing function.
The work of the Division falls into three primary categories
Collateral Remedies and Capital Appeals
Civil Appeals include state and federal litigation involving tort, civil rights, contract and labor-relations issues. The civil caseload includes juvenile court wardship cases and termination of parental rights proceedings based on child abuse or neglect.
Administrative appeals arise out of the full range of decisions made by executive branch agencies, including driver's license revocations, discipline of professionals engaged in regulated occupations (e.g., real estate agents, teachers, chiropractors, physicians), welfare entitlement, unemployment and workers' compensation, environmental regulation and prison parole and disciplinary proceedings.
Defense of Criminal Convictions in Direct Criminal Appeals
County district attorneys are responsible for trial-level prosecution of criminals in Oregon circuit courts. Following conviction, criminal defendants are entitled to appeal to the Oregon Court of Appeals, with discretionary review by the Oregon Supreme Court. In these direct appeals, defendants seek to have their convictions reversed or their sentences changed. These cases range from minor misdemeanors to very serious felonies punishable by mandatory Measure 11 prison sentences, such as rape, kidnapping and robbery, and homicide cases including murder and aggravated murder. Many involve complex and sensitive constitutional and criminal-law questions that affect all aspects of the criminal-justice system. The state also takes some appeals in criminal cases, usually from pretrial orders suppressing evidence or dismissing indictments.
Appellate Division attorneys also provide legal advice on criminal-law questions to local prosecutors throughout the state, prepare training materials, and present training to prosecutors and law-enforcement agencies.
Defense of Criminal Convictions in the Context of Collateral Remedies and Capital Appeals
Collateral-remedies appeals generally involve challenges by criminal defendants to the validity of criminal judgments or to the legality or conditions of their confinement. Those cases include appeals in post-conviction proceedings in state court and appeals in habeas-corpus proceedings in state and federal courts. Many of the cases involve claims of a denial of the constitutional right to the assistance of counsel based on allegations that the defendants lawyer at the criminal trial or on appeal performed deficiently.
In addition, Appellate Division attorneys represent the state in capital cases on automatic and direct review in the Oregon Supreme Court. Finally, the Division's attorneys represent the state in original-jurisdiction and habeas corpus proceedings in the Oregon Supreme Court.