The Champion

September/October 2007 , Page 5 

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Criminal Defense Lawyers Fulfill a Vital Role

By Carmen D. Hernandez

Read more President's Column columns.

I am honored to follow in the footsteps of all our great past presidents and to have been sworn in by Judge Ricardo H. Hinojosa, with whom I often disagree but whose integrity, intellect and sense of fair play I respect. My involvement with NACDL began after I went to the mountain — the Criminal Defense College in Macon, Ga. There I was taught by NACDL members, who as a group were the best, brightest and most committed lawyers I had ever met; I left a changed person and a much better lawyer. In the years to follow, Congress and the executive branch conducted an assault on the rights of defendants that have threatened the promise of justice: the AEDPA, which decimated the Great Writ of habeas corpus; the PROTECT Act; the PATRIOT Act; the indeterminate detention of American citizens without being charged or being allowed to speak with an attorney; the sanctioning of torture and the adoption of rendition policies that offend our core principles; and all the oth

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