News Release ~ 07/16/2013

Congress’s Newly-Formed Overcriminalization Task Force to Hold Second Hearing this Friday, July 19

Washington, DC (July 16, 2013) – On May 7, 2013, The House Committee on the Judiciary voted unanimously to create the “Overcriminalization Task Force of 2013.” At a press briefing that day, Judiciary Committee and Overcriminalization Task Force leaders expressed agreement on the need to address several important issues, including the erosion of the mens rea (or criminal intent) requirement in federal criminal law, the often unnecessary duplication of state law in the federal code, overincarceration, and the explosion of regulatory offenses that some estimate may now number as high as 300,000, among other issues. Members also expressed the need to address mandatory minimum sentences.

Chairman Sensenbrenner has scheduled the second hearing of the Overcriminalization Task Force for this Friday, July 19, 2013, at 9:00 a.m. at 2237 Rayburn House Office Building. The topic of this hearing is “Mens Rea: The Need for a Meaningful Intent Requirement in Federal Criminal Law.” A link to the Judiciary Committee web page on which the witnesses’ written testimony will be posted, as well as any webcast, is at http://judiciary.house.gov/hearings/113th/hear_07192013.html.

Witness List 

Mr. Norman L. Reimer
Executive Director, National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers

Mr. John S. Baker, Jr., Ph.D.
Visiting Professor, Georgetown Law School
Visiting Fellow, Oriel College, University of Oxford
Professor Emeritus, LSU Law School

The Overcriminalization Task Force was authorized for six months and is led by Crime, Terrorism, Homeland Security, and Investigations Subcommittee Chairman Jim Sensenbrenner and Ranking Member Bobby Scott. It is conducting hearings and investigations and will issue a report on overcriminalization in the federal code, as well as possible solutions. The task force is made up of five Democrats and five Republicans, and will include Judiciary Committee Ranking Member John Conyers (D-MI) and Chairman Goodlatte as ex-officio members.

The first hearing of the Overcriminalization Task Force was held on Friday, June 14, 2013. The topic of that first hearing, at which NACDL President Steven D. Benjamin testified, was “Defining the Problem and Scope of Overcriminalization and Overfederalization.” A webcast of that hearing as well as the written testimony of the witnesses is available at http://judiciary.house.gov/hearings/113th/hear_06142013.html

To learn more about NACDL’s work and leadership in the effort to combat and roll back overcriminalization in America, please visit www.nacdl.org/overcrim.  

Please contact Ivan J. Dominguez, Director of Public Affairs & Communications, (202) 465-7662 or idominguez@nacdl.org for more information.

The National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers is the preeminent organization advancing the mission of the criminal defense bar to ensure justice and due process for persons accused of crime or wrongdoing. A professional bar association founded in 1958, NACDL's approximately 10,000 direct members in 28 countries – and 90 state, provincial and local affiliate organizations totaling up to 40,000 attorneys – include private criminal defense lawyers, public defenders, military defense counsel, law professors and judges committed to preserving fairness and promoting a rational and humane criminal justice system.

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