Statement of Qualifications from Robert Toale

Robert ToaleRobert Toale

Position Seeking: Board Member

Since graduating from Loyola University New Orleans School of Law in 1982, criminal defense has been the backbone of my practice.  I have tried hundreds of state, federal, and juvenile criminal cases before judges and juries throughout Southeast Louisiana.  Currently, my practice is limited exclusively to criminal defense.

I have been a member of NACDL since 1986, and am presently a life member.  I am one of four NACDL life members in Louisiana and the only life member in the New Orleans area.  I have attended every single NACDL Board of Directors meeting, every quarterly Indigent Defense and Death Penalty Committee meetings, most monthly Indigent Defense Committee telephone conferences, and numerous other committee meetings since November 2011. 

I have also been a life member of the Louisiana Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers for over ten years, and prior to that a member since 1986.  I was elected as LACDL president-elect in December 2012 and LACDL president in December 2013.  As president-elect and president of LACDL, I have focused on accomplishing four goals: (1) abolishing capital punishment, (2) adequately funding the public defender system, (3) ensuring that LACDL is a force at the Louisiana Legislature, and (4) increasing the number of yearly LACDL-sponsored CLE events from four to six.  When I became LACDL president-elect, my goal was to increase LACDL’s membership to 600 individuals by December 2014.  I accomplished that by December 2013.  After meeting that benchmark, I set a goal to increase LACDL’s membership to 1,000 individuals by the end of 2016.  I have been working with the chief public defenders in various jurisdictions to recruit public defenders to join LACDL.

As president-elect and president of LACDL, I have regularly testified before the Louisiana Legislature regarding proposed legislation.  LACDL has won several important legislative battles since 2013.  Last year, LACDL worked to obtain passage of a landmark discovery reform bill.  Prior to 2013, discovery available to defendants was limited. The bill requires that district attorneys turn over all witness statements and police reports, regardless of whether they are considered inculpatory, exculpatory, or material.  This year, LACDL is working with lawmakers to lessen penalties for possession of marijuana and fighting bills that increase Louisiana’s draconian penalties for possession and distribution of heroin.  LACDL is also working with state legislators to create a commission to conduct a study of the fiscal impact of capital punishment in Louisiana.

In addition to acting as president of LACDL and my life membership in NACDL, I am a graduate of Gerry Spence’s Trial Lawyers College, a graduate of the National Criminal Defense College’s Trial Practice Institute, and have attended multiple-day training sessions at the National Institute for Trial Advocacy.  I am certified as Capital Lead Trial Counsel by the Louisiana Public Defender Board.

Furthermore, I have contributed to my community through pro bono work and community service.  After Hurricane Katrina, the criminal justice system was in shambles.  I remained in New Orleans and tried (pro bono) the first 12-person jury trial in Orleans Parish after Katrina.  Due to the lack of public defenders, courts began appointing civil lawyers to handle criminal cases. I helped train these civil lawyers in criminal procedure and the intricacies of the Louisiana criminal justice system.  The criminal defendants were provided with zealous representation when they might otherwise have been stuck in limbo without representation.  I have served my community as Parliamentarian of the Alliance for Good Government, a non-profit organization that hosts forums and endorses candidates for election in Louisiana.  I am also a board member of the Louisiana Justice PAC, a PAC dedicated to supporting candidates who favor balance in the criminal justice system and have an understanding of issues important to the criminal defense bar.

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