Affiliations are provided for identification purposes only.

Dennis Balske
Attorney, Law Office of Dennis Balske

Lane Borg
Executive Director, Office of Public Defense Services

Lisa Christon

John Comery
Retired Federal Agent

Jeff Ellis
Director, Oregon Capital Resource Center

Cynthia Hamilton
Investigator, Federal Public Defender's Office

Ryan O'Connor
Partner, O'Connor Weber LLP

Janis Puracal
Executive Director, Forensic Justice Project

William Teesdale
Attorney/Investigator, Federal Public Defender's Office



Legal Director

Steve Wax served as Oregon's Federal Public Defender from 1983 to 2014, and was one of the longest-serving public defenders in the country. He was a key part of the Brooklyn, NY, District Attorney's prosecution of David Berkowitz, AKA "The Son of Sam". Steve and his federal defender team successfully represented six men formerly held as "enemy combatants" in Guantanamo. 

Steve has taught at Lewis & Clark Law School, serves as an ethics prosecutor for the Oregon State Bar, and lectures throughout the country. He has been honored for his work by, among other groups, the NACDL (2004 President's Commendation), the American Jewish Committee (Oregon Chapter 2007 Judge Learned Hand Award), the ACLU (Oregon 2007 Civil Rights Award and Oregon 2010 Hon. James M Burns Professionalism Award) and the American Constitution Society (Oregon Chapter 2014 Justice Hans Linde Civil Liberties Award).

Steve was invited to present the 2009 Ava Helen and Linus Pauling Memorial Peace Lecture at Oregon State University. He is a fellow in the American College of Trial Lawyers. Kafka Comes to America, his book about his work representing Portland attorney Brandon Mayfield and the men in Guantanamo, has won four national awards, including the prestigious ABA Silver Gavel.

JD, Harvard Law School, cum laude
AB, Colgate University, cum laude

Staff Attorney

Brittney Plesser earned two Bachelor of Arts degrees in Women’s Studies and Business Economics from the University of California, Santa Barbara. Brittney’s background in feminist theory drew her to law school to better understand institutions and government power. She earned her Juris Doctor from Lewis & Clark Law School, cum laude, in 2015. Brittney discovered her passion for assisting people who are incarcerated while working for the ACLU of Oregon in 2013. She was tasked with assessing uses of force in an Oregon jail and has never looked back. She then assisted in a capital murder case to study Oregon’s capital sentencing trends as compared with crime severity. She has been doing innocence work since 2014, when she began conducting research on national trends in the innocence movement in advance of Oregon Innocence Project’s launch. From there, she went to work at the California Innocence Project in San Diego, a project that is responsible for dozens of exonerations throughout southern California. She took what she learned at the California Innocence Project and returned to Portland to work with the newly established Oregon Innocence Project. Brittney now works as an attorney at Oregon Innocence Project. In addition to supervising law students and litigating innocence cases with a focus on forensic and social sciences, Brittney is a member of OIP’s steering committee, which makes case and policy determinations for the project.  

JD, Lewis & Clark Law School, cum laude, 2015
BA, University of California, Santa Barbara, 2010





The Oregon Innocence Project was founded in 2014 and is a program of the Oregon Justice Resource Center, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization based in Portland, Oregon. OJRC (OIP) is a member of the Innocence Network. For a full staff directory of the OJRC, please visit the OJRC's website.