JSH Reporter Summer 2015 - Page 20

JSHFIRMANNOUNCEMENTS 020 Mel McDonald Celebrates 30 Years at JSH Nearly 30 years ago, Mel McDonald joined Jones, Skelton & Hochuli after serving as both a trial judge and U.S. Attorney for Arizona. Mel’s journey into the legal profession began at a very young age. He was inspired to become an attorney at the age of 10, after reading a detective magazine that featured an article about a man who had just been sentenced to death. Mel believed the man to be innocent and wanted to learn more about why he was convicted. It turned out his parents knew the judge who had presided over the case. The judge met with Mel and, using the facts and evidence of the case, explained to him why the man was guilty. Ever since this experience, Mel was destined to be an attorney. After graduating from the University of Utah College of Law in 1968, Mel decided to move to Arizona to clerk for the Honorable Charles C. Bernstein in the Maricopa County Superior Court. Mel would later go on to serve as a judge in that very same court from 1974-1981. After serving as a judge in Maricopa County Superior Court, he was appointed U.S. Attorney for the District of Arizona by President Ronald Reagan in 1981, where he remained until 1985. In 1985, Mel joined Jones, Skelton & Hochuli, where he has focused his practice on criminal defense for the last 30 years. “You find people at the darkest point in their life. No one needs help more than people who are facing criminal charges,” said Mel, when asked what drew him to criminal defense. Outside the office, Mel and his wife enjoy traveling and have been to both the Middle East and Europe. They also love to spend time with their kids and grandkids. Lori Voepel Celebrates 10 Years at JSH Growing up, Lori had a passion for writing and knew she wanted to make a difference in people’s lives. It wasn’t until she went to college that she found a way to do both. One day after her public speaking class, her professor asked if she had considered law as a possible career path. Knowing the law had always interested her, Lori decided to pursue a career in the legal profession. After graduating from Northern Arizona University in 1990, Lori attended the University of Arizona College of Law. Competing in Moot Court at the UofA is where Lori discovered her passion for appeals. After graduating in 1993, Lori clerked for Justice Zlaket on the Arizona Supreme Court and for Judge Patterson on the Arizona Court of Appeals. In 1996, Lori joined a Phoenix-based firm where she focused her practice on criminal appeals and trials for 9 years. In 2005, Lori joined Jones, Skelton & Hochuli, where she now co-chairs the Appellate Department. During the course of Lori’s career, she has handled federal and state appeals in over 250 cases in virtually every area of the law. One case stands out as Lori’s greatest appellate achievement: the capital habeas appeal of Debra Milke, who was convicted and sentenced to death in 1990 based solely on the testimony of the arresting officer, who, it was later discovered, had a history of lying under Oath and serious constitutional violations in other cases. Lori had represented Debra for 12 years on appeal, when the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals granted habeas relief in 2013. After Debra’s original conviction was set aside, she was released after spending nearly 24 years in prison (23 on death row). During retrial proceedings, Lori and her co-counsel sought dismissal on Double Jeopardy grounds, and recently won on that issue in the Arizona Court of Appeals, resulting in the dismissal of Debra’s case. Outside the office, Lori enjoys spending time with her husband, Terry, and 5-year-old daughter, Ciara, as well as hiking, and traveling. JSH Provides a Scholarship to a Diversity Legal Writing Program Participant The Diversity Legal Writing Program provides second-year law students at Arizona State University Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law with practical clerking experience in private law firms within Maricopa County. As a participant in the program, JSH offered one student the opportunity to clerk for our firm for the entire Spring semester. In addition to providing valuable clerking experience, the firm also provided the student with a $5,000 scholarship. Each of the participating students attended a weekly training session designed to enhance his or her writing skills, teach them about the law firm environment, and discuss practical tips for the practice of law. JSH hosted and presented at one such training session. Students clerked 12 hours each week and completed projects assigned by a mentor attorney. Participating students received feedback regarding each of their projects in an effort to improve their legal writing skills.