NACDL E-News

June 27, 2014; Vol. 13 No. 06

NACDL 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. Voting for Treasurer, Secretary, and Board positions will take place in July via an online ballot at www.nacdl.org/elections (or by paper ballot upon request only). Information on voting, requesting paper ballots, candidates, and general information on NACDL elections is available at www.nacdl.org/elections.

 

NACDL Secretary Rick Jones Testifies at Congressional Overcriminalization Task Force Hearing on Collateral Consequences

The bipartisan Overcriminalization Task Force of the House Judiciary Committee held its eighth hearing yesterday morning. NACDL Secretary Rick Jones, who is also the Executive Director of the Neighborhood Defender Service of Harlem and Co-Chair of NACDL’s Task Force on the Restoration of Rights and Status After Conviction, was one of two witnesses at the hearing.

In his presentation, Jones forcefully and effectively provided guidance to the Task Force on the steps that Congress must take to address the ubiquitous problem of collateral consequences on the federal level. Both of the witnesses agreed and recommended to the Task Force that all mandatory collateral consequences that apply across the board be eliminated, urging restoration of rights and a more individualized approach where questions of public safety are at play. Numerous members of Congress were clearly seeking guidance from the witnesses as to how best to craft the necessary legislation to achieve goals set forth by NACDL in its recently-released report and recommendations on this important topic. And Jones was unambiguous in making the point – with supporting data – that the burden of the collateral consequences of arrest or conviction, as the balance of issues facing America’s criminal justice system, fall disproportionately upon racial and ethnic minorities.

Following the hearing, Representatives John Conyers (D-MI), Bobby Scott (D-VA), and Steven Cohen (D-TN) presented a forum on Personal Narratives of Collateral Consequences. The forum featured several individuals who have been affected by the collateral consequences that accompany an arrest or conviction.

The hearing follows the May 29 release of NACDL’s 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. With more than 65 million people in America having some form of a criminal record, the universality and import of the problem this nonpartisan report tackles is tremendous. Collateral consequences and NACDL's report and recommendations have been front and center in the press in recent weeks, including a New York Times editorial on the subject. Additional coverage has come from NPR’s "All Things Considered," the Washington Post, and Wisconsin Public Radio, among others.

A webcast of the full hearing, the written testimony of Rick Jones on behalf of NACDL, and that of Mr. Mathias (Mat) H. Heck, Jr. (Montgomery County Prosecuting Attorney, Dayton, OH; Chair, ABA Criminal Justice Section) will be made available here. Links to webcasts of all seven of the Task Force's previous hearings and the written testimony of all of the witnesses are available at www.nacdl.org/overcrimtaskforce

 

NACDL Members Travel to Liberia to Conduct Five-Day Criminal Defense Training

From June 16 to 20, an NACDL team conducted a five-day training workshop in Kakata, Liberia. The NACDL team worked directly with Liberian public defenders and trainers from the James A.A. Pierre Judicial Institute with the goal of improving the quality of criminal defense in Liberia. The workshop was a part of an ongoing project of the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime: Promoting Rule of Law & Governance in the Criminal Justice System in Liberia. The training focused specifically on raising the pre-trial and trial advocacy skills of Liberia’s public defenders. The public defenders NACDL worked with will use the skills and knowledge gained during the workshop to train other public defenders in Liberia. NACDL is also in the process of building a "criminal defense manual," which will be used to assist in the training of future Liberian defense lawyers.

The training was led by NACDL Indigent Defense Counsel John Gross. He was joined by NACDL Past President Lisa M. Wayne, NACDL Board Member Elizabeth Kelley and NACDL member Martin A. Sabelli. Earlier this year, NACDL Secretary and Executive Director of the Neighborhood Defender Service of Harlem Rick Jones, traveled to Liberia to support the planning and research of the training. This is the second time that NACDL has sent members to Liberia on such a mission.

A blog with photos and entries covering each day of the training is available at http://nacdlinliberia2014.wordpress.com/.

 

The Fourth Amendment Lives Another Day: A Win for Digital Privacy in the U.S. Supreme Court

On Wednesday, in a single unanimous ruling, the U.S. Supreme Court held in both Riley v. California (13-132) and United States v. Wurie (13-212) that even in the context of an arrest, absent exigent circumstances, a warrant is required for police to search the contents of electronic devices like a cellphone or smartphone.

NACDL President Jerry J. Cox said: "NACDL has long argued that a person’s Fourth Amendment rights do not disappear upon arrest. Today, the Court made this clear and rejuvenated the Fourth Amendment in the digital age. The Court has long held 'a man's home is his castle.' Now the castle is in your pocket."

NACDL filed a joint amicus brief in Riley together with the Brennan Center for Justice at New York University School of Law. And in Wurie, NACDL filed a joint amicus brief with the National Association of Federal Defenders. More information about NACDL’s significant work in the Fourth Amendment/Privacy arena is available at http://www.nacdl.org/fourthamendment.

 

Foundation for Criminal Justice to Host Gala Dinner, Tickets Available

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, in conjunction with NACDL’s Annual Meeting and Seminar, at 7:00 p.m. at Philadelphia’s National Constitution Center. At the gala, 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 will receive the Champion of Justice Award. Additional information and tickets are available at http://www.nacdl.org/foundation/philadelphia2014.

 

NACDL President Jerry J. Cox receives Kentucky Bar Association Distinguished Lawyer of the Year Award

NACDL President Jerry J. Cox received the Kentucky Bar Association’s (KBA) Distinguished Lawyer of the Year Award during the Association's recent Annual Banquet at the Marriott at RiverCenter in Covington. Cox received the award as a part of the KBA's Annual Convention which drew 1,850 lawyers to the Northern Kentucky Convention Center June 18-20.

The KBA's Distinguished Lawyer of the Year Award is presented each year to a lawyer who has distinguished himself or herself through a contribution of outstanding service to the legal profession.

"The selection process places special emphasis upon community, civic and charitable service that brings honor to the profession," said KBA President Thomas L. Rouse.

For more information on the award, please click here.

State Criminal Justice Network Conference

The 13th Annual State Criminal Justice Network Conference, 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, the Juvenile Law Center, and the Brennan Center for Justice. 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, which 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.

Visit NACDL's website for more information and to register for the 13th Annual State Criminal Justice Network Conference.

 

NACDL-Cardozo Law National Forensic College Advances Forensic Science Knowledge Among Defenders

Public defenders from around the country, and other lawyers with training responsibilities, gathered at the Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law from June 8 to 13, to train in the most current complex forensic science issues. With support from the Foundation for Criminal Justice, Cardozo Law and NACDL hosted the inaugural, first-of-its-kind NACDL-Cardozo Law National Forensic College (NFC), with an aim of significantly decreasing the number of people incarcerated via wrongful convictions.

For each subject matter area, a faculty of leading scientists, litigators, and scholars in the field covered the latest developments and systematically strategized how forensic issues can be approached at each stage in a case. Throughout the six-day college, lawyers and scientific experts formed working groups to ensure each of the trainees became part of a national network that shares the best information, uses and develops the best experts, and pursues disciplined and sophisticated law reform strategies. The college instructed the newly trained lawyers to then train their colleagues at their office in the latest in forensic science.

The defenders from offices that were unable to make a contribution toward tuition or lodging had their participation subsidized by the sponsors. This program was made possible by support from Cardozo, the Foundation for Criminal Justice, and corporate and law firm sponsors.

 

Government Surveillance

In May, the House passed a watered-down version of the USA FREEDOM Act (H.R. 3361) in an effort to prohibit the government collection in bulk of telephone and other records. Unfortunately, the final bill stripped many of the crucial privacy and Fourth Amendment protections from the base bill. While NACDL supported the original version of the Act, NACDL does not support the version passed by the House. In June, NACDL joined other civil liberties organizations in a letter outlining six primary concerns with the Act, including inadequate Fourth Amendment protections, that need to be addressed by the Senate prior to its passage.  If the concerns are not appropriately addressed, NACDL will oppose the bill.

In June, the House adopted an amendment by Zoe Lofgren (D-CA) and Thomas Massie (R-KY) that prohibits the use of defense appropriated funds to exploit the "back door search loophole," which enables government agencies, like the NSA and FBI, to collect and search the communications of U.S. persons that are collected without a warrant under Section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (50 U.S.C. 1881a), a statute primarily designed to pick up communications of individuals abroad. NACDL joined a letter in support of this amendment.

 

Indefinite Detention at Guantanamo Bay

In May, the House passed the 2015 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) (H.R. 4435). The House version of the bill would maintain transfer restrictions of Guantanamo detainees to the United States for any purpose, including prosecution, for another year. Additionally, the Senate Armed Services Committee version of the NDAA (S.2410) includes a one-year ban on transfers to Yemen, and a provision that would allow detainees to be transferred to the United States for continued indefinite detention, trial, or incarceration pending the submission of a report by the administration on how it plans to close the detention facility at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. NACDL has serious concerns about these provisions, and will continue to fight to strip them out of the bill before the full Senate vote.

 

11th Circuit: Fourth Amendment Protects Cell-Site Location

In June, in United States v. Davis, the Eleventh Circuit held that "cell site location information is within the subscriber's reasonable expectation of privacy. The obtaining of that data without a warrant is a Fourth Amendment violation." While the court went on to apply the good faith exception to the exclusionary rule, finding that the cell-site location evidence was admissible against the defendant, this is a huge win for the Fourth Amendment. NACDL joined an amicus curiae brief with the American Civil Liberties Union Foundation, the Center for Democracy and Technology, the Electronic Frontier Foundation, and the American Civil Liberties Union Foundation of Florida, Inc. in support of the defendant.

 

NACDL Urges House and Senate to Support the Democracy Restoration Act of 2014

On June 6, NACDL sent a letter to members of Congress urging them to support the Democracy Restoration Act of 2014. The Democracy Restoration Act would restore voting rights in federal elections to over four million Americans who are out of prison, as well as notify individuals when their right to vote has been restored. NACDL's recently released 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, identifies several recommendations, including that mandatory collateral consequences be abandoned unless there is an evidence-based public safety benefit that significantly outweighs the disadvantages. Losing one's constitutional right to vote serves no public safety purpose whatsoever. The passage of the Democracy Restoration Act of 2014 would be a move in the right direction to restoring the rights and status of individuals following a conviction.

 

Group Admission to the Bar of the U.S. Supreme Court

NACDL is sponsoring a unique opportunity for up to 12 members to participate in a group admission ceremony to the Bar of the U.S. Supreme Court in Washington, D.C. This opportunity will be available to the first 12 qualified members on a first-come, first-served basis and will take place on the morning of January 20, 2015. Members will be responsible for their own travel arrangements, must be in good standing with a state bar for a minimum of three years, and must submit their completed application materials to NACDL by November 14, 2014.

Interested members should contact Elsa-Maria Ohman, NACDL’s National Affairs Assistant, at (202) 465-7638 or eohman@nacdl.org for further instructions.

 

In Other News

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