Special Capital Defender Lifetime Achievement Award, 2019 Recipient

Dennis Balske

Friday, October 25, 5:00 p.m. – Hallmark Resort, Newport
Don’t miss this very special award presentation to honor Denny’s outstanding lifetime career defending capital cases. Join your colleagues, family and friends—all are welcome—for a celebration and reception, featuring yummy treats and a no-host bar.

Dennis Balske received his J.D. in 1974 from Ohio State University College of Law. As early as 1976 he began teaching criminal defense, and starting in the late ’70s he was lecturing and writing about capital punishment and capital defense. He went on to found the Alabama Criminal Defense Lawyers Association and served as its executive director and president and on several committees in the early ’80s.

In 1978, Dennis joined the Southern Poverty Law Center as a staff attorney and served in that capacity until 1984, when he became the organization’s legal director, specializing in capital-punishment and class-action, civil rights litigation. Along the way he chaired the Death Penalty Committee and co-chaired the Amicus Curiae Committee for the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers, where he also served on its board for two terms. Additional professional associations include serving on the Alabama Supreme Court Advisory Committee on Indigent Defense (five years) and the Advisory Committee on Criminal Procedure (seven years), chair of the Alabama State Bar’s Indigent Defense Committee (seven years), and the board of the Alabama Capital Representation Resource Center (four years).

In 1992 he joined the Federal Public Defender’s Office in Portland where he stayed until 2003 when he developed a solo practice emphasizing state post-conviction and federal habeas corpus litigation. He has served as a member of the Office of Public Defense Services Screening Committee for Capital Defenders (15 years), as co-chair of OCDLA’s Capital Defenders (15 years), on the US District Court’s Capital Habeas Rules Committee (12 years), and as president and program chairperson for the Owen M. Panner American Inn of Court (four years). He chaired the Oregon State Bar’s Post-Conviction Task Force for two years and drafted the Performance Standards for Post-Conviction Relief Practitioners that were adopted by the State Bar. He has testified as an expert witness in numerous capital post-conviction cases in Oregon, as well as in Ohio, Alabama, Kentucky, Indiana, Tennessee, Missouri, Texas, and Florida.

Dennis has been named an Oregon Super Lawyer sine 2010. Other awards include the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers’ prestigious Robert C. Heeney Memorial Award, that organization’s President’s Commendation, and an OCDLA President’s Award among many other commendations. He is the author of Representing Yourself in Oregon State Post-Conviction Proceedings: A Guide Toward Preserving Your Issues for Federal Habeas Corpus Review, distributed by the Oregon Federal Public Defender.