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Janis C. Puracal

Janis C. Puracal is a trial and appellate attorney with experience in Oregon and Washington state and federal courts.  She fights for under-represented populations, like victims of child sex trafficking and those who have been wrongfully convicted.  She specifically looks for impact litigation to develop the law for these populations who have been traditionally under-served.  She has over ten years of experience in all phases of litigation, including complex cases and novel areas.  She also sits on the Board of the National Crime Victim Law Institute.

Janis also has a specific interest in developing the intersection between law and science.  She has encouraged decisions based on sound science in civil and criminal matters, and has been instrumental in advocating for changes in the law based on developments in various fields of scientific study.  To that end, Janis co-founded the Oregon Innocence Project, where she continues to volunteer her time.  The Project is dedicated to securing the release of wrongfully convicted inmates in Oregon and is the only program of its kind in the state.  Janis became devoted to innocence work after she successfully represented her brother, Jason Puracal, in an international campaign to free him of wrongful conviction in Nicaragua.  Jason was freed in September 2012 after nearly two years in captivity.  Janis’s work included briefing in Nicaraguan and international courts, diplomatic relations in the U.S. and Nicaragua, lobbying on Capitol Hill in Washington D.C., and media appearances on a national and international level, including CNN, Reuters, and The Today Show.  Since Jason’s release, Janis has continued to work with her brother to advocate for legal reform and won awards for her pro bono contributions to social justice.  She and Jason give presentations around the country to engage law students and other community leaders in legal reform, and Janis teaches a media strategy class once a semester at the Seattle University School of Law International Human Rights Clinic.

Representative Work

  • Settlement for $1.25 million against strip club on behalf of 13-year-old victim of child sex trafficking
  • Jury verdict for $537,000 against manufacturer of clothing dryer on behalf of family whose home caught fire

Professional Memberships

  • Oregon Innocence Project, Co-Founder
  • National Crime Victim Law Institute, Board of Directors

Honors and Awards

  • Edmund S. Muskie Pro Bono Service Award, TIPS section of the American Bar Association (ABA)
  • “Rising Star,” Washington Super Lawyers, 2010-present

Articles and Presentations

  • Speaker, “Holding Businesses Accountable for Sex Trafficking,” JuST Conference, New Orleans, Louisiana (October 2017)
  • Speaker, “Using Client Narratives to Tell a Persuasive Story,” Lewis and Clark Law School, Portland, Oregon (September 2017)
  • Co-Speaker, “Utilizing Experts in Court,” Juvenile Law Academy, Eugene, Oregon (October 2016)
  • Co-Speaker, “The Innocence Project and the Righting of Wrongful Convictions: Causes, Civil Consequences and Resulting Coverage Issues,” Federation of Defense and Corporate Counsel, San Diego, California (March 2016)
  • Co-Author, Symposium on the Center on Wrongful Convictions: Who Could It Be Now?  Challenging the Reliability of First Time In-Court Identifications After State v. Henderson and State v. Lawson, 105 J. Crim. L. & Criminology 947 (2015)
  • Speaker, “Finding, Litigating, and Putting an End to Wrongful Convictions,” numerous law schools, churches, and social justice minded venues