NCVLI Presents 2010 Victim Advocate Award to Steve Doell


The National Crime Victims Law Institute (NCVLI) is the nation's preeminent non-profit organization in the field of crime victims' law.

NCVLI, located in downtown Portland, actively promotes balance and fairness in the justice system through crime victim centered legal advocacy, education, and resource sharing.

NCVLI hosts an annual Crime Victims' Law conference in Portland where attorneys, victim advocates, and other people involved in the criminal justice system come to learn about victims' rights law. The conference features seminars and workshops conducted by national experts in the field.

Each year, at the conference, NCVLI also presents an award to an outstanding advocate of victims rights. In 2010, on June 10th at the Marriott Hotel in downtown Portland, the award was presented to Crime Victims United President Steve Doell.

Below on this page we present a video and transcript of the award proceedings.

About Steve Doell

Steve Doell was wrenched from his prior life into the worlds of criminal justice policy, legislative activism, politics and victims' advocacy when his 12-year-old daughter Lisa was murdered in 1992. The murderer, a 16-year-old who wanted to live out his fantasy of killing a young girl, deliberately ran over Lisa with his car as she walked home from school in Lake Oswego. The murderer chose Lisa as his victim randomly. Judge Robert Morgan called the killing "random and savage" and "shocking in the extreme."

The murderer was sentenced to 3 years in a juvenile facility and served 28 months.

Steve started attending Crime Victims United meetings in 1993 and was soon involved in lobbying the Oregon Legislature to change laws on juvenile justice and criminal justice. In 1997, when Crime Victims United founders Bob and Dee Dee Kouns retired, Steve was elected CVU president, a position he still holds.

In his 17 years of service to Crime Victims United, Steve has filled a myriad of roles.

He has consoled and counseled many parents whose children have been murdered and other victims of crime.

He has helped many crime victims survive parole hearings for their attackers.

He has helped countless victims from all parts of Oregon when they ran into a brick wall in the criminal justice bureaucracy.

He has made hundreds of trips to the Oregon Legislature in Salem to advocate for or against countless bills and to present and organize testimony.

Steve has served on many task forces, workgroups and committees including:

Steve is a founder and board member of the Oregon Crime Victims Law Center which provides legal assistance to crime victims whose rights have been violated.

He participated in the process that led to Senate Bill 1 in 1995 which revamped juvenile justice in Oregon and created the Oregon Youth Authority.

He has interviewed dozens of candidates for judicial or political office as part of the Crime Victims United endorsement process.

He has maintained an ongoing relationship with dozens of officials in state, county and local criminal justice systems and with countless legislators at all levels.

He has been involved in many ballot measure campaigns:

Steve has written, contributed to and coordinated dozens of voter pamphlet arguments.

He has vigorously advocated for improved treatment and reformation programs for criminals through the use of scientific methods.

He has worked on numerous white papers suggesting ways to improve juvenile and adult criminal justice in Oregon.

He has written countless op-eds and letters and made countless media appearances to explain criminal justice issues to the people of Oregon.

He has spoken at dozens of events for victims.

He has spoken to many groups of Oregon students about the Oregon criminal justice system and their duties as citizens.

All Oregonians live in a safer and more decent state because of the tireless efforts of Steve Doell on their behalf.

NCVLI Award Ceremony

Here is a video and transcript of the NCVLI award ceremony presenting the 2010 Victims' Advocate award to Crime Victims United President Steve Doell.

The speakers are:

Because of technical difficulties, the video cuts out before the end of Steve's speech, but the audio continues.

This video requires Adobe Flash Player 8 or above.

Meg Garvin

Comments of Meg Garvin, Executive Director of the National Crime Victims Law Institute

Our second award of the day . . .

This is our victim advocate award. The honor here for us in Oregon is that we get to honor someone from our own back yard which is amazing.

The work that Steve has done on behalf of crime victims - he should be receiving awards in every state. He's made a change in Oregon but it's impacted everyone.

Our victim advocate award this year is going to Steve Doell.

Steve is a native Oregonian. He was raised in North Portland and was educated at Saint Cecilia elementary school.

Since 1994 Steve has been a crime victims' advocate and has lobbied for victims' rights, criminal justice policy and public safety.

This turn to advocating for victims' rights came out of a sad and a very tragic part of Steve's life which was the loss of his daughter.

What Steve has done with that tragedy has made so many other victims of crime have the capacity to be survivors of crime because he has changed the law, he has changed the culture, and he has changed the individuals he has worked with.

When I came to Oregon 7 and 1/2 years ago Steve Doell's name was one of the first names I ever heard when I was entering the field of victims' services. No one would tell me exactly what I needed to know about Steve. They just said "You have to meet him."

And then you meet Steve and Steve will have you for an hour telling you the things that still need to be done to make it better for victims because he's not done yet.

All he's done over the years and he's not done yet. For every victim in Oregon, we should be incredibly grateful that he's not done yet. We're thankful for all he's done but we're incredibly grateful that you're not done yet Steve.

Mary Elledge

Comments of Mary Elledge, Co-Leader of Parents of Murdered Children, Portland Chapter

Thank you very much NCVLI for allowing me to speak about Steve. Steve is like a brother almost.

First of all, let me say, NCVLI deserves to be called heros - every one of them - because we rely on them so much and they have done so much to give a voice and help balance the justice system for us.

It is you people at NCVLI who wanted us to have Steve. We nominated him but you had to select him.

So I thank you very much and I know you know how valuable he is to all of us.

Steve is a hero for victims. He's right on the top of the pile.

And how could this man be so dedicated to helping so many victims. And he helps in not just homicide, which he went through with the loss of his daughter, but for any crime.

How can he do this? It's because of love. It's because of the love he has for Lisa Marie Doell who was born on May 1st, 1980 and she is the catalyst behind Steve and the inspiration to this man.

It is because of Lisa that so many people have been helped. Her name will never be forgotten.

12 years after Lisa was born, on October 21st 1992, a young man, in Lake Oswego - which you would think would be a safe place to have your children walk home from school - he deliberately ran into her to take her live.

On that very day 18 years ago Steve began the most emotional, spiritual and unbearable ride through the justice system and the aftermath of homicide.

Even when we think of ways we can punish people who have done heinous crimes would we ever want their children murdered. That's probably the last thing we would ever wish on anyone because we who have been through it know what it's like.

And through his daughter's murder, though the murderer received only a short sentence - just three years - Steve went on. He could have stayed home and been bitter. He could have stayed home and done nothing. But he went on. He saw the injustice in his case and he did not want it to happen to anyone else.

He became an advocate because of his love and also he had the love for victims of crime. He is so sensitive at meetings. He's always there to help. As busy as his schedule is, he continues to come to the POMC meetings regularly so he can see if there's anyone there he can help.

The system needed to be changed so Steve jumped in.

He has lobbied as we all know - it would take me forever to read all the organizations and meetings that he goes to.

It was not for money, it wasn't for power, it was love - for the love of his beautiful curly-haired 12-year-old daughter that he became a victim advocate. And he has done an outstanding job. And we are so proud of him - all of us.

Eighteen years later we are honoring Steve, and rightly so. He could be in Hawaii today. He could be basking in the sun in some place else other than Oregon, but no, he chose to continue on with his fight. And thank heavens he is continuing to stay on and see that more is done.

He has helped so many and is continuing to help more that thank you does not seem enough but we want him to know how much we love him and appreciate all his work. And I thank NCVLI for allowing us to do this

And thank you Steve. And know that Lisa's up there smiling on her Dad just like we are now.

Meg Garvin

We are going to have one more person pay tribute to Steve and then I then have another tribute to read because when folks in Oregon heard this was happening we started getting inundated.

Clackamas County Circuit Court Judge Susie Norby

Comments of Clackamas County Circuit Court Judge Susie Norby

I'm one of the many people - apparently - I didn't know there are many of us - I nominated Steve thinking I might be the only one, and I'm so happy to hear that I wasn't. I'm so happy to hear that there were many of us who admire the work that he's done and admired it enough to nominate him for this award.

My name is Susie Norby, and I am a trial judge in Clackamas County. I first heard Steve Doell's name when I was a Deputy District Attorney in 1993. Steve was the bereaved father of the 12-year-old murder victim in a case my office prosecuted that year, to shocking conclusion. Those of us who watched the case closely could not imagine how Lisa's family would ever heal from the blow of the compromised jury verdict. I did not expect to hear Steve's name again.

But I did. We all did. A few years later, I learned that Steve had linked up with Crime Victims United. A few years after that everyone in Oregon knew the organization's name - and his.

I first met Steve when I was running for judge, and was seeking Crime Victims United's endorsement. It was not easy to get. Steve researched me through and through. He checked my background in the DA's Office. He contacted several victims from cases I prosecuted. He spoke with defense attorneys. He spoke with judges. He grilled me personally for over an hour. That said, Steve may have been the only person I met during the campaign who never once asked me where I stood on an issue. He already understood that candidates for judge can't express bias on any subject. Instead, Steve asked me about process, about decision making, about how I felt about the victims I had worked with, and about why my background qualified me to do the job well.

When Steve finally agreed to recommend me for the Crime Victims United endorsement, I said, for the eighteenth time: "I appreciate it. But, I have to emphasize again that there's not a single thing I can do for you in return, ever, especially if I win!" He replied: "Yes, there is. You can win, and then you can listen. Whenever a victim speaks about their experience, just listen. That's what you can do, and it's a lot."

Thanks to changes in the law that Steve helped bring about, I now hear victims speak in court nearly every week. And I do listen. So do the offenders. Just last week, a tough guy convicted of breaking into a woman's car and stealing her valuables was nearly reduced to tears when she spoke, describing how hard she worked to be able to buy what he took from her, how much she had gone without to afford such things, and what she would do to her son if he EVER committed such an act.

I was also victimized myself last year, when my life was threatened by a criminal, and I recently spoke as a victim at his sentencing. It was frightening and cathartic to describe my experience. Whether or not it got through to the man who wished me dead, it did help me heal.

Steve earned this outstanding achievement award by shifting a legal paradigm. The term "criminal justice" no longer has quite the same meaning it once did. Through dignity, tenacity, and hard work, Steve expanded the term "criminal justice" to include not only justice for criminals, but also justice for the people who criminals hurt.

Steve, I nominated you because I'm grateful for all that you've done, and continue to do, to make sure criminal justice isn't just for criminals. I will always be grateful that I had the chance to speak when I was victimized. I will always listen attentively when other victims speak. And I will always remember that the world of criminal justice became a better place because of Steve and Lisa Doell.

Meg Garvin Presents Award To Steve Doell

I would like to invite Steve up to come receive his award and, as he's coming, I'm not going to try to carry this bouquet over to him, but Senator Betsy Johnson from the Oregon Legislature sent her regards and apologized that she couldn't be here to personally recognize Steve but sent a note congratulating him and wishing him the best as he moves forward.

With that Steve, I present to you the 2010 Victim Advocacy Award for your commitment to advancing victims' rights.

Steve Doell

Comments of Crime Victims United President Steve Doell

Thanks for the kind words, the extremely kind words, Mary, Judge Norby.

I tried to think of what to say here today and, you know, when you hear people receive awards it's always "this is a great honor". And it seems almost trite. It seems like it almost diminishes the word "honor". But this is a great honor. It is a great honor and I am humbled.

And I want to thank the people who had the confidence in me to nominate me. I want to thank NCVLI, Meg and the board of directors, who believed in me to honor me with this this wonderful award.

I look out among this audience and I see a lot of people who are professionals. They went to school to do these jobs. This is what they wanted to do with their lives. This is not what I planned to do with my life. I was in marketing and sales in a big corporation and, all of a sudden, as they say, the parent's worst nightmare became mine.

I can't thank everybody in the audience - and I see so many faces that I know. I can't thank you all individually - it would take too much time and I would be afraid I would forget someone. But you know who you are. You've been my friends, you've been there with me, and I appreciate it so much.

There are a couple of people here though that I do have to acknowledge. My parents are here today - I'm so lucky to have them. I may become a crime victim tonight for saying this, but my mother is 95 years old - she's here with us today.

And I won't tell you how old my Dad is but I'll give you a clue: My mother was a "cougar" before there were cougars.

Bob and Dee Dee Kouns founded Crime Victims United back in 1983 and I have them to thank for a lot. They taught me how to be a victims' advocate. Bob passed away in 2004 and unfortunately Dee Dee could not be here today - I wish she could be.

They taught me how to navigate the shoals of the legislature and change laws. And they taught me that, if there were no harm to victims and if there were no loss of property, we wouldn't have to have this criminal justice system. If we could raise dead, if we could wipe the memory of rape victims, if we could heal the wounded of assaults and domestic assaults, if we could return all the property, we wouldn't need this. But that's not the case.

There are a couple of more people I want to recognize if you'll bear with me. There are two of our board members who are here today that have been through a lot with me.

One is Anne Pratt. Anne is the vice President of Crime Victims United. She lost her son Brian in a horrific DUI in Bend 11 years ago now, 11 1/2 years ago, and, I have to tell you, I refer to Anne as our DUI division of Crime Victims United. MADD has waxed and waned in this state - I'm not sure where they're at right now, but she has carried the banner for DUI victims.

Howard Rodstein is also a board member. Howard is a very unusual guy. Howard's never been a victim of crime. And Howard is there because he believes in what we do. And I've got to tell you, he's a very bright individual. He owns a software company - basically they cater to the academic and scientific communities. And I will tell you, depending on your political persuasion, Howard is my David Axelrod or Karl Rove. I'm just the mouthpiece - this guy's the brains of the operation.

One thing my parents taught me - a couple of things that have served me well through this.

One, be a survivor. You're going to get some tough things through your way in life. I thought I would have some tough things thrown my way but this was the toughest. They taught me to be a survivor.

Number two, they taught me, and I think Judge Norby mentioned the word, to attain what you want to attain you have to tenacious - you have to have tenacity.

And last but not least, my father taught me, associate with people that are smarter than you are, and I've tried to do that.

People say "he's there because of what happened to his daughter." She was murdered. It was an unusual murder case because he used an automobile and as you know, most of those cases, when there's not drugs or alcohol involved are either domestic violence or they are somebody trying to take out a police officer.

He was a tremendously violent guy. He had a record - he should have been in juvenile lockup long before he murdered Lisa.

But it's not just that Lisa was murdered, the reason that I'm standing here today. It's not that she was murdered - it's who Lisa was and how she lived her life.

She was only 12 years old but she was quite a little girl. Now, you'd expect me to say that - I'm her father. However, when I talk about her, some of my friends start filling in where I'm leaving off. And they say, you know, you forgot - she did this and that and the other thing.

She was an extraordinary little girl. She worked hard. She got very good grades. She was a straight-A student. I had a teacher once come up to me and start talking to me about Lisa - it was a parent-teacher conference - and I'm saying "Wait a minute - this isn't her teacher." And she ended her talk by saying "I can't wait to have her. I'm the sixth-grade teacher." Lisa was in fourth at the time.

She was very talented. She was a dancer, and all she could tell me from the age of six, was that she wanted to be a professional dancer. I kept waiting - real estate, lawyer, nurse, stay-at-home Mom, something. She never wavered. I said, "Kid, I don't know anything about show business but this is a tough row to hoe."

She looked at me one day at lunch about six months before she was murdered and she said "Dad, I've listened to you but do you want me to do what you want me to do or do you want me to be happy."

Her dance teacher, who was an equity dancer on Broadway in New York, said "I've taught hundreds of young girls, I've seen hundreds of young girls." She said "She has what it takes. She's one of the two best I've ever had." So she had quite a life in front of her.

But the last thing I want to leave you is this. She also had a keen sense of justice. Ironically, in September before she was murdered, her mother and her and some girlfriends had been up to Multnomah Falls. And when they got back to the car, the car had been broken into. The windows were smashed and there was property taken.

She wrote a story about this - she had an assignment to write about something and so she wrote about this incident. And we never talked about crime but you have to understand that we had peaked out in crime in Oregon. After 25 years, we were at almost a 700 percent increase in the rate of violent crime in the state - it was out of control.

What I remember her writing at the end of this piece was something to this effect. And I actually looked for it last night - I've got it somewhere at home and I've misplaced it. But she said, "It concerns me, the amount of crime we're hearing about. When I saw what had happened to the car, I realized it was bad but much worse could happen. And I don't know what goes through people's minds that do this but I hope someone is there if I was ever attacked."

We can't put our children in a bubble - I was not there that day when she was murdered.

The other thing she said to me, a couple of weeks after that, she had been to the Anne Frank exhibit in Portland which was there in late September of 1992. And she had gone through the exhibit - we were going somewhere together - I can't remember where it was - and she "Dad, how could something like this happen?"

Well, I was dealing with a very emotionally mature young woman. She wasn't trying to be anything she wasn't. She was emotionally mature, she was aware of people, she was aware of her surroundings. And she said "This is horrible. This was horrible."

Because I hadn't really caught up with her, I said something to the effect "It is horrible. People do horrible things to other people and life is not fair."

And she looked at me and she said, "Dad, that's ridiculous. If these things happen, somebody, somebody has to stand up and do something about it. Somebody has to stand up and stop it."

And so, from an angel's lips to her father's ears.

Thank you very much.

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