Holiday Letter from NACDL President Lisa Wayne

Dear Colleagues,

In the midst of this holiday season when many of us are rushing to be somewhere else or wrapped up in last-minute shopping that never seems to end, I hope you can take some time out while I share some of my joy with you.

In the past four months, I’ve flown all over the country to learn from my colleagues and spread the good will of NACDL toward all. And I have some very exciting news to share below – there’s a new free NACDL app for iPhone, iPad and iPod Touch users.

But first let me catch up. The first third of my term has been a whirlwind. In September, I had the joy of speaking at the annual DUI seminar, probably NACDL’s most popular CLE, and at our annual White Collar Crime seminar at Fordham Law School in New York. Two ends of the country, two very different aspects of defense practice, but both wonderful gatherings of talented and dedicated defense attorneys. I also had the pleasure of attending several special events during October.

In Chicago, NACDL co-sponsored a symposium on judicial independence with DePaul College of Law, where I participated in an important discussion about the corrosive effects of money in judicial elections – especially for the criminal justice system. Also in Chicago, NACDL’s Task Force on the Restoration of Rights and Status after Conviction held the first set of hearings on the legal obstacles that confront the convicted. Less than a week later I was in Philadelphia for an event NACDL co-sponsored with the University of Pennsylvania Law Review on the politics of sentencing, where I appeared on a panel on racial injustice and the War on Drugs. Earlier that week I had the pleasure of joining Rick Jones and colleagues from Neighborhood Defender Service of Harlem at the 20th annual W. Haywood Burns Gala in New York, their annual fundraiser. In November, I attended the annual Drug Defense seminar in Las Vegas and gave a talk on “Closing for the Win.”

Our fight to prevent indefinite detention without charge or trial and to preserve the use of the criminal courts to try terrorism suspects is now more critical than ever. Harmful provisions were passed by Congress in the 2012 National Defense Authorization Act. Although the provisions passed and will be signed into law by President Obama, NACDL played a key role in elevating public awareness. This setback will only cause us to redouble our efforts to see that the war on terrorism is not transmuted into a permanent war on fundamental liberties

Looking Forward

At the Fall Board of Directors meeting in Las Vegas, NACDL passed a resolution celebrating the upcoming 50th anniversary year of Gideon v. Wainwright. We are resolved to honoring those who represent the poor and educating the public to the right to counsel. The celebration begins January 8, 2012, the 50th anniversary of the filing of Gideon’s petition and concludes March 18, 2013, the 50th anniversary of the Court’s unanimous decision. As part of this celebration, members will receive a special commemorative calendar highlighting important dates in the history of the Sixth Amendment right to counsel. Look for it in the next issue of The Champion.

Coming up next month, NACDL will be offering free Padilla training. As part of our growing distance-learning initiative, we are collaborating with the Defending Immigrants Partnership and other immigration organizations and indigent defense organizations to present three FREE live streaming video webinars. These webinars will be presented on Jan 31 and Feb 1, 2012 on immigration topics defense lawyers need to understand to effectively represent their non-citizen clients. In addition to an overview of immigration consequences of criminal convictions, there will be targeted sessions on specific categories of offenses such as domestic violence, crimes of violence and drugs. Stay tuned for more details coming soon!

And finally, NACDL has a holiday present for iPhone, iPad and iPod Touch users – NACDL Edge is now in the App Store, and it’s FREE, with an Android OS app coming soon.

Now anyone with an Apple mobile device can get NACDL News and CLE and event information delivered to their handheld. But that’s not all – NACDL members can search the member database by name and location, read the current issue of The Champion, and access NACDL’s experts database. More members only features are planned. Watch for the announcement, or go to the App Store now and search for “NACDL Edge” and begin exploring on your own.

Peace, Justice, and Liberty,
Namaste.

Lisa Monet Wayne

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