News Releases ~ 2014

News Release ~ 04/23/2014
Clemency Project 2014 Praises Justice Department for Breathing New Life Into Clemency Process -- Washington, DC (April 23, 2014) – Deputy Attorney General James Cole announced today a new set of criteria the Justice Department and White House will use when considering clemency petitions from federal prisoners. The new criteria will help the Justice Department identify federal prisoners who, if sentenced today under current sentencing laws and policies, would likely have received a substantially lower sentence. Clemency Project 2014, a working group composed of the Federal Defenders, the American Civil Liberties Union, Families Against Mandatory Minimums, the American Bar Association, and National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers, as well as individuals active within those organizations, wholeheartedly supports Cole’s announcement and the Justice Department's plans to restore the integrity of the clemency process. Read More

News Release ~ 04/22/2014
Nation’s Criminal Defense Bar to Play Critical Role in Clemency Project 2014 -- Washington, DC (April 22, 2014) - On January 30, 2014, the United States Department of Justice announced an ambitious program to provide clemency for certain federal inmates serving long sentences for certain non-violent crimes. In a speech delivered on that day, Deputy Attorney General James Cole called upon the nation's bar to assist potential candidates in assembling effective, appropriate and focused commutation petitions for consideration by the Department of Justice and President Obama. Read More

News Release ~ 04/11/2014
Nation’s Criminal Defense Bar Welcomes U.S. Sentencing Commission Vote to Reduce Drug Trafficking Sentences -- Washington, DC (April 11, 2014) - Yesterday, the U.S. Sentencing Commission took another step toward making federal drug sentences more reasonable. The agency approved an amendment that would reduce the guidelines level for most drug offenses by two levels, amounting to an 11-month sentence reduction on average. NACDL applauds the Commission’s action and urges Congress not to obstruct this modest, incremental reduction. Unless Congress rejects the "drugs-minus-2" amendment, which was approved as part of a larger package of amendments, the change would go into effect November 1, 2014. While the lower offense levels would apply only prospectively, the Commission yesterday asked for public comment on whether this change should be made retroactive. NACDL strongly supported the original amendment in its comprehensive comments, and intends to file comments supporting retroactivity. Read More

News Release ~ 03/27/2014
Congressional Overcriminalization Task Force Holds Hearing on Overfederalization of Criminal Law - Washington, DC (March 27, 2014) -- This morning, the bipartisan House Judiciary Overcriminalization Task Force held its second hearing of 2014, and the subject was "Overfederalization." Read More

News Release ~ 03/24/2014
Noted defense attorneys John Keker, Jan Nielsen Little receive White Collar Criminal Defense Award from NACDL, Stetson Law - Washington, DC (March 24, 2014) -- On Saturday, March 22, the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers (NACDL) presented both John Keker and Jan Nielsen Little with the 2014 White Collar Criminal Defense Award at Stetson University College of Law in Gulfport, Fla. Keker and Little received their awards during NACDL’s White Collar Criminal Defense College at Stetson. The White Collar Criminal Defense Award is presented annually to individuals who have made a profound impact on the field of white collar criminal defense advocacy. Read More

News Release ~ 03/18/2014
Redefining Indigence: Comprehensive National Report Reveals How States Decide Who is “Too Poor” to Hire a Lawyer -- Washington, DC (March 18, 2014) -- Marking the 51st anniversary of the Supreme Court's landmark decision in Gideon v. Wainwright, The National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers (NACDL) today released a report revealing various ways states restrict access to counsel. In particular, states do so by applying unrealistic eligibility guidelines and imposing myriad fees when people are deemed eligible for assigned counsel. Prepared by NACDL’s Indigent Defense Counsel John Gross, Redefining Indigence: Financial Eligibility Guidelines for Assigned Counsel documents how the widely-held belief that if you cannot afford an attorney one will be provided to you free of charge is simply not true. This report serves as a stark reminder that much work remains to secure the meaningful protection of Americans' Sixth Amendment right to counsel. Read More

News Release ~ 03/13/2014
Nation’s Criminal Defense Bar Joins Letter to U.S. Senators Concerning Attacks on DOJ Civil Rights Division Nominee Debo Adegbile -- Washington, DC (March 13, 2014) – While the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers (NACDL) does not take positions on political nominees, NACDL does strongly deplore attacks on any attorney, including political nominees, arising out of the attorney’s representation of a client in a criminal matter. That, however, is precisely what happened in the case of Debo Adegbile, who was nominated for the position of Assistant Attorney General for Civil Rights at the Department of Justice. NACDL today joined with the National Lawyers Guild, the National Legal Aid & Defender Association, and numerous other legal organizations to express profound disappointment in the attacks on Mr. Adegbile predicated on his appellate representation of former death row inmate Mumia Abu-Jamal. Read More

News Release ~ 03/06/2014
Manuel D. Vargas, Senior Counsel at the Immigrant Defense Project, Receives Lifetime Achievement Award from Nation’s Criminal Defense Bar -- Washington, DC (March 6, 2014) – This morning, the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers (NACDL) presented Manuel D. Vargas, senior counsel at the Immigrant Defense Project, with its Lifetime Achievement Award. The award was presented by NACDL President Jerry J. Cox at the opening of NACDL’s 2014 Midwinter Seminar & Meeting, which is devoted entirely to the subject of the collateral consequences of conviction. Read More

News Release ~ 02/28/2014
Reauthorized Congressional Task Force on Overcriminalization Holds Hearing on Criminal Code Reform -- Washington, DC (Feb. 28, 2014) On February 5, 2014, the House Judiciary Committee adopted a resolution reauthorizing the bipartisan Overcriminalization Task Force for an additional six months, through August 5, 2014. This morning, the reauthorized Task Force held its first hearing of 2014, and the subject was "Criminal Code Reform." Read More

News Release ~ 02/27/2014
Nation's Criminal Defense Bar Releases Video Series for Journalists Covering Criminal Justice -- Washington, DC (Feb. 27, 2014) – The National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers (NACDL) today released a new series of tutorial videos aimed at assisting journalists interested in covering the criminal justice system. Criminal Justice and the Media is a three-part series exploring how journalists can effectively inform the public on what is one of the most important, dynamic and omnipresent forces in American society. Some of the finest journalists in the country joined with NACDL to create this exciting series; detailed biographies for each of the presenters are available here. Read More

News Release ~ 02/21/2014
DOJ Opposes Legislating Discovery Reform but Declines to Disclose Its Own Federal Criminal Discovery Blue Book; Nation’s Criminal Defense Bar Filed Federal Suit Today -- Washington, DC (Feb. 21, 2014) – In response to the public furor over the "egregious misconduct" by Department of Justice (DOJ) prosecutors in the case of the late Senator Ted Stevens, whose conviction was vacated after post-trial investigations revealed that prosecutors had withheld significant exculpatory evidence from the defense, DOJ’s Office of Legal Education published, but has not made available to the public, a text referred to as the Federal Criminal Discovery Blue Book. In December 2012, the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers (NACDL) filed a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request with the DOJ seeking the disclosure of the Federal Criminal Discovery Blue Book, which was denied in February 2013, purportedly on various privilege-based and law enforcement grounds. NACDL appealed that denial in April 2013, and was denied again in June 2013. Read More

News Release ~ 02/05/2014
Nation’s Criminal Defense Bar Applauds Reauthorization of Bipartisan Congressional Task Force on Overcriminalization -- Washington, DC (Feb. 5, 2014) – Today, the House Judiciary Committee adopted a resolution reauthorizing the bipartisan Overcriminalization Task Force for an additional six months, through August 5, 2014. According to a press release issued by the House Judiciary Committee, the Task Force will continue to be evenly comprised of Democratic and Republican Members of Congress. The Task Force is led by Crime, Terrorism, Homeland Security, and Investigations Subcommittee Chairman Jim Sensenbrenner (R-Wisc.) and Ranking Member Bobby Scott (D-Va.). Read More

News Release ~ 02/03/2014
Noted defense attorneys John Keker and Jan Nielsen Little to receive White Collar Criminal Defense Award from NACDL, Stetson Law, in March -- Washington, DC (Feb. 3, 2014) — The winners of the 2014 White Collar Criminal Defense Award will be presented in March at Stetson University College of Law in Gulfport, Fla. Notable litigators John Keker and Jan Nielsen Little, whose high-profile clients include former Enron CFO Andrew Fastow, Mississippi plantiffs’ attorney Dickie Scruggs, and investment banker Frank Quattrone, will receive the award during the NACDL White Collar Criminal Defense College at Stetson on March 22. Read More

News Release ~ 01/27/2014
Unanimous Supreme Court Applies Rule of Lenity; Reverses a 20-Year Mandatory Sentencing Enhancement for Sale of One Gram of Heroin -- Washington, DC (January 27, 2014)—Today, a unanimous U.S. Supreme Court issued an important criminal law ruling in the case of Burrage v. United States by applying the rule of lenity – a rule of statutory construction that resolves ambiguities in the language of a law in favor of the defendant. Reversing the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals, the Court held that to apply the 20-year minimum sentencing enhancement in §841(b)(1)(C) to someone convicted of selling certain substances to a user who then dies, "at least where use of the drug distributed by the defendant is not an independently sufficient cause of the victim’s death or serious bodily injury[,]" the government must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that "but for" the use of that particular substance, the user of the drug would be alive. In this case, Mr. Burrage had sold one gram of heroin to someone who, according to toxicology reports introduced at trial, had a cocktail of multiple drugs in his system. The government had secured the now-reversed sentencing enhancement in the lower court through argument and a jury instruction that it is enough under the statute – the plain language of which requires that the "death … result[ed] from the use of such substance" -- to prove that the substance sold by the defendant was a "contributing cause" of the user’s death. The Supreme Court unanimously disagreed. Today’s decision in Burrage v. United States is available here. Read More

News Release ~ 01/17/2014
President Takes A Pass on Ending Mass Data Collection -- Washington, DC (January 17, 2014) - Today, President Obama made a long-awaited speech on surveillance reform proposals. Unfortunately, the President chose to defer to Congress on key components of the most significant known program in need of reform—the bulk collection of Americans’ telephone metadata. Nothing the President said today indicated that the wholesale collection of this information is to be brought to an end. Read More

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