NACDL Releases Major Report on the Consequences of Arrest and Conviction Affecting At Least 65 Million People in America; Focus is Roadmap to the Restoration of Rights and Status
At an event yesterday morning at the Open Society Foundations in Washington, DC, NACDL released a major new report -- Collateral Damage: America’s Failure to Forgive or Forget in the War on Crime – A Roadmap to Restore Rights and Status After Arrest or Conviction. The report is a comprehensive exploration of the stigma and policies associated with labeling individuals with second-class status because of their convictions. In addition, the report lays out ten recommendations to ensure that the values of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness are within reach of all, regardless of past mistakes.
With more than 65 million people (more than one in four adults) having some form of a criminal record, and 2.2 million people currently behind bars in the United States, the universality and import of the problem this nonpartisan report tackles is tremendous. Often without any nexus whatsoever to the offense charged and/or for which an individual has been convicted, many people who have a brush with the law lose everything from their voting rights and their Second Amendment right to bear arms, to access to federal student loans. Some even lose their homes as a result of draconian laws designed to exclude entire families from public housing as a result of the alleged misdeeds of a single family member.
NACDL's Task Force on the Restoration of Rights and Status After Conviction held hearings all over the country, featuring testimony from more than 150 witnesses from every corner of the criminal justice system, as part of the research leading to this report. Included among the witnesses were those who have faced unfair, irrational, and often life-altering barriers arising from a brush with the criminal law. Many of their stories are captured in the report. And many more are available in the complete transcripts of the Task Force’s hearings.
Read more about yesterday's event here. Read the full report and learn more about NACDL’s work to address the collateral consequnces of a conviction at http://www.nacdl.org/restoration/roadmapreport/.
Cynthia Orr and Rick Jones to Be Honored at August 1, 2014, Foundation for Criminal Justice Gala Celebration in Philadelphia
Earlier this month, NACDL announced that President Jerry J. Cox selected Cynthia Orr and Rick Jones to receive two of the Association's most prestigious honors. NACDL Past President and San Antonio attorney Cynthia Orr will receive the Robert C. Heeney Award. NACDL Secretary and Executive Director of the Neighborhood Defender Service of Harlem Rick Jones was selected to receive a Champion of Justice Award. Both Orr and Jones will be presented with their awards on August 1, 2014, at the National Constitution Center in Philadelphia during the Foundation for Criminal Justice’s gala Celebrating Liberty’s Last Champions™: Guardians of the Constitution.
Read more about Cynthia Orr and the Heeney Award here. Read more about Rick Jones and the Champion of Justice Award here.
Foundation for Criminal Justice to Host Gala Dinner
The Foundation for Criminal Justice presents Celebrating Liberty’s Last Champions™: Guardians of the Constitution, a gala event to celebrate the tens of thousands of criminal defense lawyers across the country who dedicate their careers to guarding the fundamental protections of the Constitution. The event will take place on August 1, 2014, in conjunction with NACDL’s Annual Meeting and Seminar, at 7:00 p.m. at Philadelphia’s National Constitution Center. Details are available at http://www.nacdl.org/foundation/philadelphia2014.
NACDL Board Approves Model Discovery Law
At its spring 2014 meeting in Las Vegas, NACDL’s Board of Directors approved a model open file discovery law to promote nationwide discovery reform and improve the fairness of criminal justice systems by ensuring that the defense receives, promptly after arraignment and before entry of any guilty plea, all information generated during the law enforcement and prosecutorial investigation of a charged offense. Developed by NACDL’s Discovery Reform Task Force, the model law is the product of extensive research, discussion, and revision, and is drawn from best-practice provisions around the country. The Task Force sought to close some common loopholes by providing a comprehensive definition of what must be in the discoverable "file," and by providing substantial direction to law enforcement agencies, investigatory agencies, and prosecutors to ensure that such information is preserved and turned over to the defense.
Read the Board resolution and the model law here.
NACDL Board Approves Policy on Digital Searches
At its spring 2014 meeting in Las Vegas, NACDL’s Board of Directors approved a white paper on law enforcement searches of digital evidence. Entitled What's Old Is New Again: Retaining Fourth Amendment Protections in Warranted Digital Searches (Pre-Search Instructions and Post-Search Reasonableness), the report makes nine recommendations for reform to the judiciary, legislature, and law enforcement entities to require pre-search restrictions in a warrant for digital evidence, including a waiver of the plain view doctrine, requiring law enforcement to secure a warrant if evidence of an unrelated crime is discovered during the search, and a suppression remedy if the pre-search requirements are not met. The white paper was drafted and presented to the Board by NACDL’s Fourth Amendment Committee.
Read the Board resolution and the report here.
NACDL Special and Regular Election Announcement
In 2014, NACDL members will elect nine members of the Board of Directors, as well as President-Elect, First Vice President, Second Vice President, Treasurer, and Secretary.
NACDL’s Nominating Committee met on May 16, 2014 to nominate candidates for offices. The report of the Nominating Committee, as well as all rules governing the conduct of NACDL elections and instructions for submitting candidacy petitions are available at www.nacdl.org/elections.
Department of Justice Announces New Policy Concerning the Recording of Custodial Interrogations
NACDL is greatly encouraged by the new DOJ policy, announced May 12, 2014 and effective July 11, 2014, creating a presumption in favor of recording custodial interrogations. For far too long, the nation’s federal law enforcement agencies have been behind the curve in terms of implementing this simple but critical and enormously beneficial practice. As detailed on NACDL’s newly-launched, web-based resource on recording interrogations, hundreds of jurisdictions across the country currently record interrogations as a matter of law or local policy.
NACDL has long advocated the mandatory recording of interrogations as a practice that ensures the transparency, integrity and propriety of the interrogation process. In 2002, the Board of Directors adopted a resolution supporting “the videotaping of law enforcement interrogations from beginning to end and call[ing] upon Congress and state legislatures to pass legislation mandating this practice.” And on December 20, 2013, NACDL, joined by 39 of its state-level affiliates, sent a letter to the FBI Director requesting reversal of the longstanding agency policy forbidding recordation.
Read more about the new DOJ policy here.
Federal Defender Cynthia W. Roseberry Appointed Project Manager for Clemency Project 2014
On May 9, Attorney Cynthia W. Roseberry, who is currently the Executive Director of the Federal Defenders of the Middle District of Georgia, Inc., was appointed as the Project Manager for Clemency Project 2014.
Clemency Project 2014 is a working group composed of the Federal Defenders, the American Civil Liberties Union, Families Against Mandatory Minimums, the American Bar Association, and NACDL, as well as individuals active within those organizations. The Project was launched in January after Deputy Attorney General James Cole asked the legal profession to provide pro bono assistance to federal prisoners who would likely have received a shorter sentenced if they'd been sentenced today. Clemency Project 2014 members will collaborate to recruit and train attorneys on how to screen and write petitions for prisoners who meet the criteria laid out by the deputy attorney general on April 23. As Project Manager, Roseberry will oversee and ensure the smooth and efficient operation of the project, including inmate intake, attorney training and allocation, and resource provision.
Read more about Cynthia W. Roseberry and Clemency Project 2014 here. Lawyers interested in volunteering for the project may do so by writing to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Seattle Defense Attorney Colette Tvedt Appointed NACDL Indigent Defense Director
On May 8, NACDL announced the appointment of Colette Tvedt as indigent defense training and policy director. She will begin at NACDL in June. Tvedt has devoted her career over the past 25 years to representing poor people accused of crimes. She spent 18 of those years as a public defender and the last seven in private practice with the Seattle law firm, Schroeter, Goldmark & Bender, where she has continued to represent the indigent by court appointment in state and federal court, as well as serving without pay on the board of one of Seattle’s public defender providers.
Read more about Collete Tvedt here.
Member Assistance Requested for Trial Penalty Project
NACDL has undertaken a project to expose the federal trial penalty – the enormous tax that is imposed or threatened to be imposed upon accused persons who avail themselves of the right to a trial. The project will focus on the vast discrepancy between post-trial sentences and the sentences that are offered as part of a plea agreement, and the multiple ways that prosecutorial power is used to extract guilty pleas or disproportionately punish those who dare to take their case to trial. This project builds on a report recently issued by Human Rights Watch, which comprehensively exposed the trial penalty in federal drug cases. The Human Rights Watch report can be found here. And you may listen to a podcast describing the report on NACDL’s The Criminal Docket here.
The NACDL project, which is spearheaded by Vice President Barry Pollack, and which is supported by a pro bono team of researchers from Skadden Arps, is seeking firsthand accounts of the trial penalty in all federal cases, other than drug cases. This could include situations where a client received a far more severe sentence after trial than similarly situated co-defendants who pled guilty, or any case in which a prosecutor sought severe enhancements after a client declined to plead guilty; it could also include cases where a person who was arguably or actually innocent opted to plead guilty because of the likelihood that the sentence, if convicted after a trial, would have been far more severe.
The project depends upon the support of NACDL members and other defense lawyers in sharing their stories of the trial penalty in practice. If you have one or more examples, please visit http://www.nacdl.org/trialpenalty/ for more information about the project and to complete a questionnaire.
NACDL Deplores Political Attacks on the Criminal Defense Function
While NACDL does not endorse or oppose any candidates for office in any branch of government, NACDL does strongly deplore attacks on any attorney, including candidates representing any political party or ideology, arising out of the attorney’s representation of clients in criminal matters. Most recently, this disgraceful line of attack reared its head in the Arkansas Supreme Court race. There, it was reported that a political action committee launched an ad campaign that includes attacks on Tim Cullen, a candidate for the Arkansas Supreme Court, arising out of his appellate representation of a client, to which case he was appointed by the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals. This took place on the heels of similar attacks in the South Carolina gubernatorial race and the debate surrounding the nomination of Debo Adegbile for the position of Assistant Attorney General for Civil Rights at the Department of Justice.
NACDL President Jerry J. Cox said: "The idea of attacking someone simply for fulfilling the mandate of the United States Constitution to provide every accused person with a defense attorney is inconsistent with the nation's fundamental values. The founders of this nation recognized that no person should ever stand alone when the government seeks to condemn, imprison, or kill a person. To suggest that one's qualifications for the bench are diminished for having lived up to the ideal of the right to counsel is an ill-conceived line of attack."
Read NACDL’s full statement here.
State Criminal Justice Network Conference
The 13th Annual State Criminal Justice Network Conference entitled Life, Liberty and Justice: Seizing the Moment to Advance our Constitutional Rights will take place from Thursday, July 31 to Friday, August 1. This year’s conference is being co-sponsored by the ACLU of Pennsylvania and the Juvenile Law Center. Panels include: "Racism 101: A Primer for Challenging Racial Discrimination and Bias in the Criminal Justice System," "Ensuring Life, Liberty & Justice: Developments in Indigent Defense," and "Youth Interrupted: Lessons from the Juvenile Justice Community."
Other features of the program include the presentation of the State Criminal Justice Award, an award that recognizes an individual or group whose exceptional efforts have led toward progressive reform of a state criminal justice system, as well as the screening of Kids for Cash, a documentary that examines the recent scandal in Luzerne County, Pennsylvania where over 3,000 kids were incarcerated for petty sentences. For more information about the film, click here.
Click for more information and to register for the 13th Annual State Criminal Justice Network Conference.
Champion of State Criminal Justice Reform Award
NACDL’s State Criminal Justice Network (SCJN) is seeking nominations for the Champion of State Criminal Justice Reform Award. The award will be presented on Thursday, July 31, during the SCJN conference. Please click here to download criteria for 2014 award. Nominations are due Friday, June 16, 2014. And please visit here for more information about the award and previous awardees.