Inside NACDL: New Faces, New Projects

New Faces, New Projects Norman L. Reimer

Access to The Champion archive is one of many exclusive member benefits. It’s normally restricted to just NACDL members. However, this content, and others like it, is available to everyone in order to educate the public on why criminal justice reform is a necessity.

In May, I reported that two NACDL staff members, Tamara Kalacevic and Calli Schiller, were promoted to new positions. Now, I am pleased to report that we have appointed their replacements. NACDL’s new education assistant is Akvile Athanason. Akvile, who previously held administrative positions at Pricewaterhouse Coopers and Retail Services & Systems Inc., holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in English Language and Literature from Vilnius University in Lithuania. She was born in Kedainiai, Lithuania, and emigrated to the United States in August 2005. While working for Pricewaterhouse, Akvile conducted seminars in Latvia, Estonia, Kazakhstan, and Uzbekistan. She looks forward to bringing her considerable skill to NACDL in support of the Association’s CLE program. As she puts it, “I want to learn everything.”

John Cutler is the new national affairs assistant. In June, he earned his Bachelor of Arts degree with honors in History from the University of Chicago. John previously interned with the Justice Project and the Commission on Safety and Abuse in America’s Prisons. As a native of the Washington, D.C., area, he is keenly aware of the important role professional associations can play in shaping public policy, and, for that reason, jumped at the chance to sign on with NACDL. John is proficient in Italian and Latin, and when asked why he enjoyed studying Latin, replied, “It gave me the chance to read Virgil.”

On the public policy side, under the leadership of Past President Martin Pinales and the Board of Directors, two important new projects are underway.

The newly created Task Force on E-Discovery, chaired by Sam Guiberson, is now up and running. The task force proposes to consider all aspects of electronic discovery in the criminal defense context, employing an expansive definition of the term “e-discovery” to include discovery either originating or produced in a digital media, or that is translated into a digital media for litigation or discovery purposes. It is anticipated that the study will embrace all aspects of the discovery process, including discovery production protocols for the prosecution and reciprocal protocols for the defense, party and non-party responses to subpoenas, fruits of computer and computer network search and access, especially involving encrypted and password-protected data, digital audio and video, and digital imaging of physical documents and the forensic reproduction of computer drives.

The Task Force on E-Discovery will also consider the complex and vitally important issues related to privilege and privacy, spoliation and disorganization, and the fair allocation of litigation support costs. This final subject, allocation of costs, has enormous implications for both private counsel and CJA counsel. One cannot imagine a timelier or more appropriate subject for close study, nor one that has a greater potential to have an effect on the defense function. Sam Guiberson is assisted by a committee that includes the following members: William Buckman, Alexander Bunin, Jeff Flax, Daniel Gelb, Mark Mahoney, Cynthia Orr, and Gail Shifman. NACDL members who wish to propose topics or subjects for discussion by the task force are invited to e-mail them to Sam at

NACDL’s Task Force on Problem-Solving Courts is gearing up to launch an exhaustive study of the overall impact of this relatively new phenomenon on the criminal justice system. The task force, co-chaired by Jay Clark, Rick Jones, and Marvin Schechter, also includes Adele Bernhard, Elizabeth Kelley, Gail Shifman, Christie Williams, and Vicki Young. Scott Ehlers, NACDL’s state legislative affairs director, will provide staff support.

Problem-solving courts, which are proliferating throughout the country, typically eschew the adversarial model in favor of a “team approach” in which the defendant’s recovery from a behavioral problem and concerns for public safety become the shared goals of the defense, prosecution, court, and treatment providers. As most practitioners now recognize, these courts offer opportunities to foster rehabilitation and avoid severe penal sanctions, but often require the premature or problematic waiver of fundamental rights. Indeed, there appears to be wide divergence of views within the defense bar as to the efficacy of the problem-solving approach, largely dependent upon variance in practice and procedure from jurisdiction to jurisdiction.

The task force intends to undertake a national study of how these courts operate, initially focusing on the increasingly prevalent drug courts. The hope is to identify what works and what does not work, through an array of methodologies including site visits, interviews, surveys, and public hearings. Ultimately the task force plans to develop protocols and recommendations for best practices to insure that the laudable goal of rehabilitation can be achieved within a constitutional framework. This is an exciting project that will allow NACDL to draw upon the expertise of the defense bar to shape a trend which profoundly affects the criminal justice system.

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