News Releases ~ 1998

Supreme Court Voids Iowa Car Search Law -- Washington, DC (December 8, 1998) -- "The Supreme Court has unanimously reaffirmed one of our most cherished rights, the 'right to be left alone,'" the President of the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers said today in response to the Court's 9-0 decision banning nonconsenual searches of vehicles after routine traffic stops. "A car search is not just an insult and an inconvenience, it's a violation of our constitutional right to be free from unreasonable searches and seizures," said NACDL President Larry Pozner, of Denver, CO. "We have constitutional checks because we can't always be sure that the police or the legislature will use good judgment. The Bill of Rights is our guardian against tyranny, great and small," NACDL joined the Iowa and American Civil Liberties Unions in filing a friend-of-the-court brief in today's case, Knowles v. Iowa, No. 97-7597, asking the Court to hold the Iowa search law unconstitutional. More 

New Criminal Discovery Rules for U.S. District Court for the District of Massachusetts -- Washington, DC (December 1, 1998) -- U.S. District Court for the District of Massachusetts has promulgated new "self-executing, automatic" criminal discovery rules (effective date Dec. 1, 1998) which should serve as a model for every federal court in the country. For example, the new rules explicitly define exculpatory evidence which must be disclosed as material and favorable to the defendant because it tends to (1) cast doubt on defendant's guilt as to any essential element in any count in the indictment or information; (2) cast doubt on the admissibility of evidence that the government anticipates offering in its case-in-chief, that might be subject to a motion to suppress or exclude, which would, if allowed, be appealable pursuant to 18 U.S.C. 3731; (3) cast doubt on the credibility or accuracy of any evidence that the government anticipates offering in its case-in-chief; or (4) diminish the degree of the defendant's culpability or the defendant's Offense Level under the United States Sentencing Guidelines. More 

"Background and History of Impeachment" -- Washington, DC (November 9, 1998) -- The National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers announces the availability of a new historical treatise, "The Background and History of Impeachment: Defining the Constitutional Limits on Presidential Impeachment" by Professors Frank O. Bowman and Stephen L. Sepinuck, Gonzaga University School of Law, submitted on behalf of NACDL to the House Committee on the Judiciary today. Professor Bowman teaches criminal law and is a former federal prosecutor. Professor Sepinuck is Associate Dean of the law school and an expert in the history of the American impeachment process. More 

Congress Passes Measure Re-Establishing That Federal Prosecutors Are Bound by Rules of Ethics -- Washington, DC (October 21, 1998) -- Today's passage by Congress of the "Citizen's Protection Act," as Section 801 of the omnibus spending bill, stops in its tracks backdoor attempts by DOJ to hold its lawyers above the laws of ethical conduct which apply to all lawyers. More 

Statement of Larry S. Pozner, President National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers On FBI Laboratory Accreditation -- Washington, DC (September 22, 1998) -- In response to today's announcement that the FBI Lab has been accredited by the American Society of Crime Lab Directors -- Laboratory Accreditation Board (ASCLD-LAB), NACDL President Larry Pozner issued the following statement: More 

Criminal Defense Lawyers Elect Officers, Board Members -- Denver, CO (August 8, 1998) -- The National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers announced the election of its 1998-1999 officers and directors at its Annual Meeting here today. The new leadership will be sworn in today, Saturday August 8, at the Association's membership and board of directors meeting at the Westin hotel in downtown Denver. More 

Former DOJ Officials Advise Curbing Prosecutorial Excess -- Washington, DC (July 9, 1998) -- "Government lawyers, first and foremost, are lawyers who are -- or should be -- subject to the ethical rules of conduct applicable to all the members of the bar, with one exception: the standards for assuring fairness and total truthfulness in proceedings is higher, not lower, for government lawyers and prosecutors." More 

Circuit Court Tells Prosecutors: Tempting Witnesses Akin to Bribery -- Washington, DC (July 7, 1998) -- In the wake of last week's momentous federal appeals court decision turning aside the common practice by which the U.S. Department of Justice buys testimony against accused citizens, the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers is urging Congress and the Justice Department to change that practice across the board. NACDL is also alerting judges and defense attorneys around the nation that the Justice Department's practice of promising leniency to jailhouse informants in exchange for their testimony must now be deemed precisely what the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals declared it is: a violation of the federal bribery statute. More 

Hubbell Tax Case Dismissed -- Washington, DC (July 1, 1998) -- U.S. District Judge James Robertson today dismissed the federal tax evasion case against former Associate Attorney General Webster Hubbell, ruling that Mr. Hubbell's Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination was violated by prosecutors from the Office of Independent Counsel. More 

Supreme Court Confirms Attorney-Client Privilege, Even After Death --Washington, DC (June 25, 1998) -- The Supreme Court of the United States today handed down its most important decision of the term, Swidler & Berlin v. United States, No. 97-1192, reaffirming the sanctity of the attorney-client privilege. Clients consult attorneys for a variety of reasons, many of which are not admissions of crime, but which the client nonetheless would not wish divulged, even after death. The attorney-client privilege was already well-established in Elizabethan England, and as Chief Justice Rehnquist notes in his opinion, the posthumous attorney-client privilege has been recognized in this country for well over a century. The National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers hails today's decision as a victory for all Americans. NACDL's friend-of-the-court brief was authored by Mark I. Levy, Howrey & Simon, Washington, D.C., and was joined by the American Corporate Counsel Association and the National Hospice Organization. More 

Forfeiture Held Unconstitutional; Would Violate 'Excessive Fines' Clause -- Washington, DC (June 22, 1998) -- The National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers lauds today's U.S. Supreme Court decision in United States v. Bajakajian, No. 96-1487, holding that forfeiture of Mr. Bajakajian's savings solely for his failure to report it to a U.S. Customs officer before leaving the country would be, as Justice Thomas wrote,"grossly disproportional to the gravity of his offense." Following today's decision, NACDL President Gerald B. Lefcourt, New York City, issued the following statement: More 

'Actual Innocence' May Be Constitutional Ground For Appeal -- Washington, DC (June 15, 1998) -- The National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers applauds today's U.S. Supreme Court decision in Hohn v. United States, No. 96-8986, holding that the Court has jurisdiction to hear the a claim of actual innocence by a federal prisoner whose certificate of appeal of his post-conviction motion is denied in a federal appellate court. NACDL's friend-of-the-court brief supporting Petitioner Arnold Hohn was argued by Edward Chikofsky, New York City. More 

Supreme Court Broadens Gun Law -- Washington, DC (June 8, 1998) -- A 5-4 decision today by the Supreme Court could affect thousands of federal drug defendants caught "carrying" a firearm, adding five years or more to their sentences even if the weapon was not immediately accessible to them. Today's decision requires a five year mandatory prison sentence for Frank Muscarello, a Louisiana court bailiff caught selling marijuana. Although sentenced to federal prison for the drug dealing, the government also sought -- and now has obtained -- an additional, consecutive five-year term because Muscarello sold marijuana while "carrying" a handgun locked in the glove compartment of his truck. The five-member majority's broad definition "ignores the plain language of the statute, the clear intention of Congress, and the multitude of laws already available to punish drug dealers," said Gerald B. Lefcourt, President of the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers, which filed a friend of the court brief on Muscarello's behalf. "Adding years of additional prison time for a gun that was not used or even on the defendant's person serves no purpose other than to add to our already overflowing prisons," Lefcourt said. More 

Wenatchee Witch-Hunt Emphasizes Need for Public Defender Funding -- Washington, DC (June 2, 1998) -- At a press conference held today calling for federal investigations into the Wenatchee, WA, "sex ring" prosecutions, NACDL President Gerald B. Lefcourt issued a statement calling for adequate public defender funding across the nation. The 1992-1995 probe resulted in 43 arrests on an incredible 27,726 counts of child sexual abuse involving 60 children -- many of whom are now unwilling wards of the state -- in a town of only 17,000 residents. Virtually all of the defendants convicted were poor, uneducated and unsophisticated. "When the public defender is out-spent and out-gunned in the 'war on crime,' truth is the first caualty," Lefcourt said. More 

Supreme Court Unanimously Rejects Governmental 'Forum Shopping' -- Washington, DC (June 1, 1998) -- NACDL President Gerald B. Lefcourt, New York City, issued the following statement in support of today's unanimous U.S. Supreme Court decision in United States v. Cabrales, No. 97-643. More 

'Actual Innocence' May Trigger Release -- Washington, DC (May 18, 1998) -- In a decision that could affect hundreds of prisoners across the country, the U.S. Supreme Court today decided that a 1995 case which defined "using or carrying" a firearm in relation to certain crimes may be retroactively applied. Even prisoners who pleaded guilty prior to the 1995 case, Bailey v. United States, should be allowed to show that they are actually innocent of the crime as now defined by the Court, the Chief Justice says in today's decision, Bousley v. United States. More 

Statement of Gerald B. Lefcourt, President, National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers -- Washington, DC (May 12, 1998) -- The National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers released the following statement from President Gerald B. Lefcourt, of New York, in response to President Clinton's speech today announcing his international crime control strategy goals. More 

Statement of Gerald B. Lefcourt, President, National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers -- Washington, DC (May 6, 1998) -- In response to the public release of monitored private telephone conversations between Webster Hubbell, his wife, his attorney, his accountant and others by Representative Dan Burton (R-IN), chairman of the House Government Reform and Oversight Committee, the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers released the following statement. More 

Lawyers' Group Approves 'Ethical Considerations' For Legal News Commentators -- Washington, DC (April 28, 1998) -- Noting that "unprecedented coverage of criminal and other legal proceedings has resulted in an explosion of attorneys serving as legal commentators," the Board of the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers (NACDL) today released its long-awaited Ethical Considerations for Criminal Defense Attorneys Serving as Legal Commentators. The recommendations were approved Saturday at a meeting of the Association's Board of Directors in Santa Monica, CA. An effort will be made to get other leading national bar associations to likewise raise the consciousness of their member attorneys. More 

Defense Bar Assails Tactics of Whitewater Independent Counsel In Harassing Susan McDougal -- Washington, DC (April 27, 1998) -- The Board of Directors of the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers has unanimously adopted a resolution condemning Independent Counsel Kenneth Starr's action to compel Susan McDougal to re-appear before the Whitewater grand jury in Little Rock, Arkansas, and calling for a full and independent investigation into apparent conflicts of interest and possible misconduct in this matter. More 

Lawyers' Group Urges DOJ to Act on FBI Lab Investigation Results -- Washington, DC (April 25, 1998) -- At its Spring Board of Directors meeting in Santa Monica, CA, April 25, 1998, the Board unanimously passed a resolution calling on the U.S. Department of Justice to promptly notify all persons whose prosecutions and convictions may have been affected by misconduct in the FBI Laboratory. The resolution also calls for the Justice Department to make its FBI Lab investigation records electronically available over the Internet. More 

Death Penalty Condemned at U.N. -- Washington, DC (April 7, 1998) -- "Capital punishment in the United States is a direct descendant of lynching and other forms of racial violence," a representative of the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers (NACDL) told the United Nations Commission on Human Rights in Geneva, Switzerland last week. Professor Speedy Rice submitted the association's statement in support of the Commission's vote calling for a worldwide moratorium on capital punishment at its annual meeting in Geneva April 3, contemporaneous with the release of findings by a U.N. human rights investigator that the death penalty in the United States is racially and economically discriminatory and politically driven. More 

Grand Jury Reform Urged To Counter Prosecutorial Excesses -- Washington, DC (April 2, 1998) -- In the wake of widespread and intense scrutiny by the media and American public of the Whitewater grand jury proceedings, major reforms are in order to avert future abuses and restore the institution of the grand jury to its original role as a protector of fundamental citizen rights, the President of the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers says in a lead article published today. More 

Adequate Defender Services Funding Needed to Counter Prosecutorial Excesses -- Washington, DC (April 1, 1998) -- Years of "woefully inadequate" funding for federal criminal defense services has resulted in "widespread and rampant abuse of citizens rights by federal prosecutors," the President of the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers (NACDL) told a House Appropriations subcommittee today. More 

Supreme Court To Hear Posthumous Privilege Case -- Washington, DC (March 30, 1998) -- The U.S. Supreme Court today granted certiorari in Swidler & Berlin v. United States, No. 97-1192. The National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers filed an amicus curiae brief in the case in support of James Hamilton, of D.C. law firm Swidler & Berlin, who was White House counsel Vincent Foster's attorney before his death in 1993. After Mr. Foster's death, Mr. Hamilton's client file was subpoenaed by the Office of the Independent Counsel as part of the Whitewater investigation. A split decision by the federal Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit upheld the subpoena, saying that the attorney-client privilege does not necessarily survive the death of the client. More 

'Bounty Hunter' Bill Would Ensure Safety, Protect Citizens' Rights -- Washington, DC (March 12, 1998) -- "Even though some bounty hunters are ex-convicts, or have otherwise been in trouble with the law, they enjoy broader powers to arrest fugitives than do police officers," Leslie Hagin, Legislative Director of the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers, told a panel of the House Judiciary Committee today. "They can legally break into a home without a warrant or probable cause, and can violently arrest, shackle, imprison and even transport suspects across state lines with impunity. Because they are acting as privatized law enforcement officers, bounty hunter abuse of innocent citizens is law enforcement abuse, plain and simple." More 

Defense Bar Congratulates FBI Lab Whistleblower -- Washington, DC, February 27, 1998 -- The National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers congratulated Dr. Frederic Whitehurst on settlement of his whistleblower suit against the FBI today with a statement from its President, Gerald B. Lefcourt, of New York: More 

Family Values Imperiled When Mother Forced to Testify Against Child: Need for Parent-Child Privilege -- Washington, DC (February 13, 1998) -- "At no time before has the need for a 'parent-child privilege' been so clear as when America this week saw Marcia Lewis visibly shaken and trembling after her ordeal before the Washington grand jury convened by Independent Counsel Kenneth Starr," Gerald Lefcourt, President of the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers said today. NACDL is calling upon Congress to create a new testimonial privilege to protect confidential communications between parents and children in the interest of preserving family relationships. More 

Independent Counsel's Leaks and Unethical Conduct Imperil America's Justice System -- Washington, DC (February 10, 1998) -- The Board of Directors of the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers, meeting this weekend, unanimously rebuked Independent Counsel Kenneth W. Starr's office for leaking secret grand jury testimony and calls upon the U.S. Department of Justice and the appropriate judicial authorities to immediately investigate to determine those who have unlawfully leaked information. In a separate resolution, the Association denounced the unethical treatment of potential grand jury witness Monica Lewinsky by Starr's prosecutors and agents in ignoring and defying state ethical prohibitions against contacting persons who are represented by counsel. Both resolutions were passed at NACDL's Midwinter Meeting in Puerto Rico on Saturday and released today. More 

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