Class of 2002
Deputy Staff Judge Advocate, United States Air Force
Most Americans remember exactly where they were when they first heard about the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center towers on the morning of Sept. 11, 2001. Scott Medlyn was just beginning his third year at the USC School of Law, where he witnessed the events unfold on television screens in the first floor lobby.
He credits those Pro Bono Program experiences and his time at USC Law with allowing him to volunteer during in his country’s time of need after 9/11.
“It had a profound impact on me,” Medlyn says. “I felt like I needed to do my part, to shoulder the burden and help carry the load.” And so, after graduating, he commissioned into the U.S. Air Force. He planned on fulfilling the initial four-year-commitment and didn’t expect to make the military his career, but more than a decade later, he’s proud to still be a part of the Air Force and what he calls a fabulous opportunity. “They keep giving me great assignments,” he says, including helping to establish a judicial system in western Afghanistan and representing detainees at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, the latter of which he did with the assistance of Pam Robinson and the Pro Bono Program at USC Law.
Medlyn joined the Pro Bono Program in his first year at USC Law, a year when he says he sought to find his way. “I wanted to find something I felt passionate about, and the Pro Bono Program was it for me.” Through the program, he volunteered at food banks, read to elementary school students and acted as a mentor to a third-grader at Logan Elementary School, all of which helped him realize that there was life outside the bubble of school. “The things I did weren’t necessarily law related, so that was very centering,” Medlyn says.
He credits those Pro Bono Program experiences and his time at USC Law with allowing him to volunteer during in his country’s time of need after 9/11. “Because of the education I received from the law school and the sense of commitment to those in need fostered by Pam and the Pro Bono Program, I was able to raise my hand when the country was facing difficult challenges,” he says. When he was assigned to the Office of Military Commissions for the Office of the Chief Defense Counsel in September 2008, he finally saw a way to return the favor to Pam and the program.
One of Medlyn’s duties was to represent several Guantanamo Bay detainees as defense counsel during administrative hearings and criminal proceedings. It was a massive undertaking, and he knew he needed help, so he reached out to Pam and asked if she had some students who would like to assist. Together they created a multi-year clinic, with as many as six Pro Bono students at a time volunteering to do research on motions and issues related to the cases. “It was difficult to keep up with all of the developing aspects of this type of law because it was still relatively new and was being formed on a daily basis,” Medlyn says. “But the students who participated in the clinic provided a lot of substantive work related to the unclassified filings and briefings that we made before the commissions. They did an amazing job, and we saw immediate and tangible success due to the efforts of the Pro Bono Program.”
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