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USC News: Julia Deixler Helps Client of USC’s Post-Conviction Justice Project Win Freedom

March 23, 2018
USC News
recently published the article, “First Juvenile Resentencing Client Released from Prison Gets Second Chance,” detailing how the school’s Post-Conviction Justice Project helped Ruben Ruiz, who spent more than half his life behind bars, win his freedom. He is the first of PCJP’s juvenile resentencing clients to be released from prison.

Ruiz was sentenced to life without the possibility of parole at the age of 17.

PCJP students took on his case in 2012, and in their first breakthrough, Ruiz was resentenced in 2014 under California’s Fair Sentencing for Youth Act, which allows juveniles to petition the courts for resentencing to life terms with the possibility of parole. They spent another three years advocating for his release before the parole board and California Gov. Jerry Brown. Finally, in November 2017, the team achieved a full victory for Ruiz. 

O’Melveny associate Julia Deixler began working with Ruiz while a second-year law student at USC and, determined to see him resentenced, continued to represent her client after joining the firm.

During his nearly 25 years behind bars—including a decade in solitary confinement—Ruiz earned two college degrees, studied the law, and focused on his rehabilitation.  

“Ruben’s case presented a perfect example of the need for California courts to reexamine the sentences of juvenile offenders,” Deixler told USC News. “His role in the crime was a reflection of his youth and life circumstances at the time, not an indication of the man he is today. The entire process of working on this case—from gathering evidence, preparing his family members to testify, and working with Ruben to get ready for his hearing—was such a privilege because I really believed wholeheartedly that he should be released."