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.
NACDL’s leaders, members and staff celebrate the historic 50th anniversary as heirs to an Association whose founders imagined a day when the criminal defense lawyer would be accorded the full measure of respect to which a professional is entitled. Their goal was to eradicate the public misperception of the defense lawyer as a mere mouthpiece for the crook, and replace it with an indelible image of the criminal attorney as a champion of liberty — a zealous advocate for the rights of the individual and the supreme sanctity of America’s Constitution and Bill of Rights.
The founders have attained their goal. Their dreams are a reality. Today, NACDL is universally recognized as a reliable, credible and articulate authority. The Association’s views on constitutional issues, public policy, reform of the criminal justice system, and the defense function are sought by all three branches of government, by the media, and by a broad array of national and international non-governmental entities dedicated to the protection of liberty and the advancement of freedom.
On the great criminal justice issues of the day, scarcely a week goes by when NACDL’s support, analysis or viewpoint is not solicited by other bar groups, government entities, non-government public interest entities and individual lawyers and the parties they represent. This broad esteem for NACDL was apparent at the 50th Anniversary Dinner Gala in May. The participation of more than 90 supporters, representing the mainstream of the legal profession, showed the extent to which the founders, who initially balked at referring to the Association as a group of “criminal defense lawyers,” had succeeded in recasting defense counsel’s image. Ever-increasing support from private reformers, as well as some of the most widely respected public charities, underscores broad esteem for NACDL’s public policy initiatives and confidence in the Association’s ability to foster reform.
Just a few days short of the August 11th anniversary, NACDL convened its 50th Annual Meeting in Milwaukee and installed the Association’s 50th president, renowned ethics expert John Wesley Hall. It did so secure in the knowledge that the criminal defense function enjoys society’s respect, and the Association that speaks for that function is a valued contributor to the public discourse. This status imposes an obligation to remain ever mindful of the Association’s duty to membership, the public and the many constituencies that look to NACDL for leadership, guidance and support.
Speaking on behalf of the staff, I assure you that every day and on every issue, our aim is to fulfill that duty with the highest levels of professionalism. Safeguarding NACDL’s reputation, enhancing the Association’s capacity to serve the defense bar and advancing the public policy objectives defined by leadership are our goals. We are honored and eager to carry these goals into a second, incomparable half-century as liberty’s last champion.
Hear now the voices of NACDL staff as they reflect on this golden anniversary:
For 50 years, NACDL has been liberty’s last champion. Nowhere is that
more important than to the daily lives of the indigent. NACDL proudly
and deftly stands up for those unable to do so for themselves. The
organization’s support of indigent access to a fair legal system has
been unwavering for the past five decades. From the reservations at
Wounded Knee to the secret shores of Guantanamo Bay, NACDL has been
there championing liberty. I am proud to be part of an organization that
is not afraid to take on a politically unpopular cause in the name of
justice. I look forward to NACDL championing liberty for the next 50
Indigent Defense Counsel
NACDL hired its first public affairs director, Charmayne Marsh, in
January 1991. At that time, NACDL’s membership stood at a (then) healthy
6,723; it is now almost twice that. A former AP reporter, Ms. Marsh’s
mission was awesome and daunting — to build a public affairs program
from scratch, working with President Alan Ellis, President-Elect Jeffrey
Weiner and Public Affairs Task Force Chair Neal Sonnett. The plan, as
conceived by the Task Force in the late 1980s, was to create in the
national office a desk that would serve as a clearinghouse for getting
NACDL’s positions, analyses and names in the media, reacting to daily
spot news events, as well as to create a proactive program of
substantive news releases and proactive placement of op-eds and letters
to the editor. Others followed — Kerry Bolognese, Paul Levine, Bess
Bezirgan and Daniel Dodson — and as a reporter for BNA, and later for
American Lawyer and the ABA, I worked with all of them, and they inspire
Director, Public Affairs & Communications
It has been said that the most successful people are those that have the
best information. The Champion is one of the vehicles through which
NACDL disseminates information that assists defense attorneys on a daily
basis. Because of the excellent articles submitted by our members, we
continue to meet our goal of providing knowledge and tools that help
protect the rights of the client.
Editor, The Champion
This year, NACDL is not only celebrating its 50th anniversary, but is
already halfway into a very busy meeting calendar. The 50th Anniversary
Dinner Gala surpassed everyone’s expectations and celebrated the
Association’s first 50 years in an extraordinary way. I am proud to be
part of this organization’s history and look forward to participating in
Manager for Meetings & Education
Although I have only recently joined the NACDL staff, I have appreciated
the warmth and friendliness of the staff and everyone’s dedication to
the mission of NACDL. From a membership perspective, I enjoy the
face-to-face meetings I have had with many members who all have “tips”
on how we can acquire and retain members. In these meetings, I have seen
the passion for NACDL in each member’s eyes and have received some very
useful tips on getting new members. Happy Anniversary, NACDL!
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Cross-Examination Trial Pack
NACDL’s new Cross-Examination Trial Pack includes three of our best-selling Cross-Examination resources: “Damage Control: Situational Cross-Examination Techniques Trial Guide”, "Ultimate Cross 2.0: Audio Recordings & Written Materials" and "Sample Cross-Examination Questions."
This masterful collection of cross-examination resources provide countless tips, techniques and strategies for a variety of criminal case-specific scenarios. Learn to cross-examine a variety of trial witnesses!
Death Investigation: Forensic Pathology in the Courtroom and Cause & Manner of Death (2022)
This unique program provides criminal defense lawyers with an accurate and clear overview of forensic pathology and the countless factors to consider in a death investigation and will methodically explain what happens during an autopsy to determine cause and manner of death.
You'll uncover the different types of medicolegal death investigations, what to request from your MDI expert, quality benchmarks for accreditation and certification, guidelines and standards, common terminology and frequently asked questions.
The Psychology of Persuasion & Storytelling for Criminal Defense Lawyers
This Trial Resource Guide is a masterful collection of practical tips, techniques and strategies focused solely on using the arts and sciences of persuasion to improve your storytelling skills at trial.
You'll learn how to master the ability to communicate with juries, deliver powerful openings and closings, perform convincing cross-examinations, use effective courtroom choreography and non-verbal communication, identify and develop the optimal theme and theory for your case, and offer compelling arguments during mitigation and sentencing.
Zealous Advocacy in Sexual Assault & Child Victims Cases (2022)
Defending charges of sexual assault and child abuse can be daunting — but with the right tools, it doesn’t have to be.
Every year, NACDL identifies the hottest topics and most pressing issues when defending these cases, and brings-in nationally-renowned lawyers and experts to help you prepare for battle. This year’s 13th Annual Defending Sex Cases training program is our best yet; packed with topics and speakers you won’t want to miss!
I admire NACDL for moving beyond a traditional camaraderie association
and growing into an education and policy powerhouse. Today, the
organization is firmly established as critical and informed opinion on
all criminal justice matters, and now, the Foundation for Criminal
Justice is joining with NACDL to expand the future possibilities. I can
only hope that in the next 50 years we can continue to make the most of
the opportunities that will come.
Counsel for Special Projects
The last seven years have been a period of impressive growth for NACDL’s
policy work. Having added positions devoted to state legislation, white
collar crime and grassroots mobilization, among others, NACDL’s policy
staff has more than doubled. As NACDL continues to grow stronger and
better equipped to meet the challenges inherent in its mission, I hope
even more of our members will discover the rewards of supporting our
Associate Executive Director for Policy
On this 50th anniversary of NACDL, I have to say what a privilege it has
been to work for one of the leading forces for criminal justice reform
in this country. Thanks to the efforts of NACDL’s State Legislative
Affairs Department and the affiliates and allies we work with, we have
made previously unknown issues — such as eyewitness identification
reform and recording custodial interrogations — hot policy reforms in
state legislatures around the country. There is also more interest in
sentencing reform and alternatives to incarceration at the state level
than at any other time in recent memory. We should be proud of our
reform efforts in these policy areas over the past few years, and
continue to fight for even more state legislative victories in the
State Legislative Affairs Director
During my four years at NACDL, I watched as the organization went
through remarkable expansion in many arenas, including membership,
staffing and national influence. I feel so privileged to have been part
of NACDL’s grassroots program, and am excited to see the organization
live up to its potential. I wish nothing but the best for NACDL and its
members for the next 50 years!
Manager for Grassroots Advocacy
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I hope that NACDL can continue to build on the coalitions that have
evolved as a result of our presence in white collar and economic crime
defense. At the end of the day, everyone who is ensnared in the criminal
justice system wants the same things: due process, an impartial
hearing, and the fair exercise of prosecutorial discretion. Whether we
become interested in these issues from the perspective of an indigent
defender, retained counsel, or a business defendant, joining forces can
only improve the process.
Stephanie A. Martz
Senior Director, White Collar Crime Project