Appellate Division

The Appellate Division of the Oregon Department of Justice represents the state in all cases in the U.S. and Oregon Supreme Courts and courts of appeals. The Division presents arguments to those courts that promote the state's interests and aim to set favorable precedent for future cases.

Leadership

Benjamin Gutman, Solicitor General

Ben is the solicitor general. Ben and his team represent the state in cases on appeal in the United States and Oregon Supreme Courts. Before becoming the solicitor general, Ben was the chief administrative judge and western regional director for the U.S. Merit Systems Protection Board. He also was a member of the federal government’s senior executive service.

Earlier in his career, he served as deputy solicitor general for the State of New York and as an appellate attorney for the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. Ben has a B.A. magna cum laude in math and philosophy from Yale College and a J.D. from Yale Law School, where he served as executive editor of the Yale Law Journal.

Paul Smith, Deputy Solicitor General

Paul Smith has been the deputy solicitor general since 2015, and an attorney with the Appellate Division since 2002. Previous positions he has held in the Appellate Division include: Attorney-in-Charge of Criminal and Collateral Remedies Appeals; Assistant Attorney-in-Charge of Criminal Appeals; Mandamus lead attorney; and Ballot Title lead attorney.  Paul also worked for a year as an Honors Attorney in the Trial Division. Before joining the Oregon DOJ, he clerked from 2000-2002 for Judge David Brewer on the Oregon Court of Appeals. He graduated from Indiana University School of Law in 1999 and from Willamette University College of Liberal Arts in 1996.


Attorneys in the Appellate Division work in three main categories:

Civil and Administrative Appeals

Civil appeals include tort claims, contract disputes and proceedings to terminate parental rights based on child abuse or neglect.

Defense of Criminal Convictions in Direct Criminal Appeals

These cases range from minor misdemeanors to serious felonies like rape and robbery. Some involve complex issues that affect all aspects of the criminal justice system, including the death penalty.

Defense of Criminal Convictions in the Context of Collateral Remedies and Capital Appeals

Criminal defendants are entitled to mount additional challenges to the validity of their convictions or sentences after the direct appeal is complete. Many of these challenges concern whether the defendant’s lawyer gave adequate assistance at the original trial. In addition to the appeals from these collateral challenges, Appellate Division attorneys also represent the state in trial courts in capital cases where the defendant is collaterally challenging his or her conviction and sentence.

Appellate Division attorneys also take on other responsibilities, such as providing legal advice and training to local prosecutors and law enforcement agencies throughout the state, consulting on complex legal issues that arise in the department’s trial work and preparing the ballot titles and short explanatory statements for measures that may be submitted to the voters.