Adopting the NACDL Long Range Plan

The Board of Directors of NACDL approves the Long Range Plan as presented on April 28, 2007.

Be it resolved,the Board of Directors of NACDL approves the Long Range Plan as presented on April 28, 2007.

NACDL Long Range Plan 


William H. Buckman (Moorestown, NJ)
George H. Newman (Philadelphia, PA)

Norman L. Reimer (Washington, DC)
Executive Director

The Long Range Plan is intended to be the blueprint for NACDL during the next five years. Each of its Goals is intended to fulfill the Association’s Mission Statement: to ensure justice and due process for persons accused of crime; to foster the integrity, independence and expertise of the criminal defense profession; and to promote the proper and fair administration of justice.

Furthermore, each of the Long Range Plan’s Goals are intended to maintain and enhance the Association’s position as the preeminent organization, both nationally and internationally, for assisting criminal defense attorneys in protecting the rights of the accused.

All initiatives of the Association shall be intended to further the Long Range Plan.

Goal 1. To Work for rational and humane criminal justice policies in America through federal, state, and local efforts. 

A. Protect the Presumption of Innocence, Due Process and the Right to Counsel.

NACDL will promote, on the local, state and federal levels, policies that preserve our most cherished and fundamental individual rights and protect against unfair and false charges, prosecutions and convictions.

NACDL will endorse efforts to prevent law enforcement officials from considering, as indicia of guilt or lack of “cooperation” with a government investigation, the fact that a person or entity has consulted with, retained, or paid for a lawyer. NACDL will continue its work to safeguard the right to counsel and the right to the attorney-client relationship free from undue intrusion by the government. NACDL’s efforts will continue to be multi- faceted, and at all levels of the government - in the state and federal courts, legislative branch, Department of Justice (“DOJ”) and other executive dialogues, and in the media. NACDL will continue to form and foster important coalitions with other groups in order to, among other things, reform DOJ policy as embodied in the “McNulty Memorandum,” which implicates numerous Fifth and Sixth Amendment rights. NACDL will continue to educate lawyers about these practices and how they can be mitigated both pre- and post-indictment.

NACDL will champion legislative reform of the grand jury process, so that it is returned to its historical and rightful status as a check against government excess, rather than a total captive of the prosecution. Among the reforms NACDL will advocate, as set forth in our Federal Grand Jury Reform Report and Bill of Rights, are the following: witnesses’ right to counsel in the grand jury room, the disclosure of all exculpatory evidence, the exclusion of unconstitutionally obtained evidence, the right of a target or subject to testify, and the right of a witness to a transcript of his or her testimony.

NACDL will support: meaningful reform of eyewitness identification procedures to improve eyewitness accuracy and reliability, mandatory videotaping of all interrogations and statements to guard against false, manipulated, or coerced “confessions”; the elimination of “junk” forensic science; and strong curbs on the use of notoriously untrustworthy jailhouse and other “snitch” testimony.

NACDL will advocate for more open and fair discovery procedures such as: depositions and interrogatories; the provision of witness lists; and access to all evidence, including Grand Jury testimony.

B. Expose and Correct the Convictions of Innocent Persons

NACDL will support the creation of Innocence Commissions to review and report on the causes of wrongful convictions. NACDL will promote Innocence Projects at law schools to assist the wrongfully convicted.

NACDL will promote innocence protection legislation to eliminate procedural hurdles to defense access to probative evidence and expert witnesses who can help exculpate the wrongfully convicted.

NACDL will promote legislation to fairly and promptly compensate persons wrongfully convicted of crimes.

NACDL will work with its allies to improve the work product, oversight and independence of crime laboratories.

C. Restoration of Habeas Corpus

NACDL will promote the restoration of the Great Writ of Habeas Corpus to its traditional and essential role as a curb on criminal justice system abuses and wrongful conviction and incarceration. At a minimum, actual innocence and new exculpatory evidence must be cognizable on habeas review.

D. Eradicate overly punitive measures to cure social ills:

NACDL will strive to abolish unjust, inefficient and counter-productive laws, such as those providing for mandatory minimum sentences; the undue prosecution of children as “adults” and the prosecution of those with mental illness, mental retardation and addiction. NACDL will oppose “three strikes” laws. NACDL will vigorously oppose assertions of unchecked executive authority and other unconstitutional encroachments on our cherished rights and liberties in the guise of national security, such as the creation of “military tribunals”, warrantless searches and surveillance, “sneak and peek” searches, and general warrants.

1. NACDL will work to bring about fundamental reform of criminal law based drug control policies inasmuch as the current “War on Drugs” has increased crime and disorder arising from the illicit drug market; compromised constitutional guarantees, increased prison populations due to discretionless minimum mandatory sentences, clogged court systems, disproportionately targeted persons of color and the poor, and has diverted essential resources from programs necessary to treat substance abuse.

E. Eliminate Bias in our System of Criminal Justice.

NACDL will continue to work for equal justice in the criminal law. Because the death penalty has historically been applied in an arbitrary fashion with an unequal impact on racial and ethnic minorities as well as the poor, NACDL will support legislation abolishing or imposing a moratorium on the death penalty. NACDL will lobby Congress to reduce harsh and racially discriminatory “crack cocaine” penalties. NACDL will promote legislation prohibiting racial profiling, disparate enforcement of draconian drug and forfeiture laws and, of course, the death penalty, as well as disproportionate and inhumane immigration measures.

F. Oppose and Repeal the Over-Federalization of Local Crimes.

Federal law enforcement and the federal courts are being overwhelmed with local criminal offenses, resulting in unduly harsh penalties in inappropriate cases.

NACDL will vigorously seek to repeal laws and oppose legislation that expand the federal role in historically local crimes such as domestic violence, local fraud, local theft, and unlawful firearms possession.

G. Oppose overbroad use of federal laws.

NACDL will support narrowing the increasingly overbroad application of money laundering, continuing criminal enterprise, RICO, forfeiture, and similar criminal provisions. NACDL will advocate against this trend, especially notable post-Enron, namely the expansive reading of criminal fraud statutes to prosecute conduct that was historically addressed through regulatory proceedings and civil litigation. NACDL’s advocacy will focus on the federal level, with attention to state practices where appropriate. To this end, NACDL will continue to partner with other groups that are working to narrow federal criminal jurisdiction and require strict construction of federal crimes, including the mens rea element.

Goal 2. To Further Achieve and Safeguard America’s Respect and Support for Due Process of Law. 

A. NACDL will develop concise public policy papers and briefing papers on cases and criminal justice topics in the news. When appropriate, resolutions passed by the board of directors will be converted to position papers on their respective subjects. We will also continue to utilize the technique of presenting one-day symposiums in conjunction with educational institutions and public interest groups, and to follow up by disseminating materials generated by these programs. We will seek to generate position papers and other materials through the work of committees for distribution.

B. NACDL will continue to develop a forceful grassroots movement among members willing to discuss criminal justice issues in their own communities. The national office will compose and disseminate speaker kits on a variety of topics to facilitate presentations by members.

C. NACDL will encourage members to forward to the national office outlines of current examples of noteworthy victories, as well as examples of injustice and corrections of unjust results, including innocent and unjustly accused persons, corrupt police labs, police brutality, prosecutorial misconduct, and exposure of corrupt and unjust “deals” for informers.

D. NACDL will work with broadcast networks to provide quality legal commentators on important cases and issues and to establish NACDL as the best source for informed representation of the defense position. NACDL will seek to enhance the communication skills of our members in media relations, and ensure that they have accurate and up-to- date information on current topics so that they may speak in an informed manner. Additionally, we will communicate directly with the media, where appropriate, to correct misstatements of legal concepts reported in the media.

E. NACDL will augment our relationships with policy makers, professional journalists, researchers and editorial boards to promote the education of the American public and its elected representatives about our mission.

F. In addition to its legislative and amicus efforts, NACDL will continue, through its Lawyers Assistance Strike Force, to come to the aid of lawyers who are targeted by prosecutors, law enforcement agencies, courts or other government entities for vigorously representing their clients.

G. NACDL will continue to support the fundamental, constitutional principle of an independent and impartial judiciary.

Goal 3: To expand NACDL’s leadership role in elevating the quality of indigent defense and the effective assistance of counsel, beyond the minimal requirements of Strickland v. Washington and consistent with the expectations to which every person accused of a crime is entitled. 

A. NACDL will develop a strategy and work with affiliates and federal, state and local political bodies to promote public respect for and recognition of the value of indigent defense services and providers and which will guarantee fair and respectful treatment by politicians, administrators, judges and prosecutors. Such strategy will require that those who represent indigent defendants are independent from the executive, prosecutorial or judicial branches.

B. NADCL will support the use of strategies and methodologies, including litigation and litigation related efforts to remedy the systemic lack of resources available to defend those in need. NACDL’s strategic litigation program will include volunteer attorney and organizational resources marshaled to support systemic litigation.

C. NACDL will press for legislation which: provide adequate salaries, funding and defense services and lawyers on a continuing and reliable basis; supports and encourages lawyers to enter and remain in public service; and eliminates the criminalization and excessive punishment that is more reflective of economic status than of character.

D. NACDL will develop and/or assist indigent defense agencies in the creation of detailed performance standards to ensure the highest quality of legal services.

E. NACDL will oppose any system of indigent defense services based solely on lowest bid, or any system which has the effect of encouraging less-than-vigorous advocacy on behalf of the accused, or which places the defense at a systemic disadvantage because of the lack of resources for support services such as investigators and experts.

F. NACDL will support the use of strategies and methodologies for evaluating indigent defense agencies or providers that appropriately account for considerations such as a lawyer’s training, experience and expertise; the quality of representation; the complexity of cases; prosecutorial policies and practices; the amount of time allowed by the courts to prepare; and other circumstances unique to the jurisdiction. NACDL will oppose any strategy or methodology for evaluating an indigent defense agency or attorney that fails to ensure that the original spirit and promises of the Sixth Amendment and Gideon v. Wainwright are fully recognized.

Goal 4: To abolish the death penalty, to assist in the representation of those charged with or convicted of capital crimes, and to develop the expertise of the defense bar in defending capital cases. 

A. NACDL will work with groups and individuals opposing capital punishment and with those fighting the death penalty in individual cases. NACDL will work with coalition partners in national and state legislatures to reform or abolish the death penalty, assist international coalitions abolish the death penalty, help foreign lawyers fighting extradition to the United States in capital cases, and target specific states and localities for concentrated legal efforts, NACDL will direct its members and the public to materials that educate the public about the arbitrariness and unreliability of the death penalty, its unfair implementation and the need for high quality and fully compensated counsel, investigators and expert witnesses in capital litigation.

B. NACDL’s Death Penalty Counsel, in conjunction with our affiliates and coalition partners, will serve as a resource coordinator, obtaining and distributing information from other groups, and recruiting attorneys and their firms to represent persons facing the death penalty. NACDL will support and work toward the full funding of the defense function for all individuals charged with or convicted of capital crimes and for the creation of an independent appointment authority. NACDL will continue to support the restoration of Death Penalty Resource Centers.

C. In an effort to provide high quality legal representation to individuals charged in capital cases, NACDL will provide direct representation through its Death Penalty Counsel and volunteer efforts of its members. Further, NACDL will assist defense teams in providing high quality legal representation by training attorneys, mitigation specialists, and investigators in uncovering and presenting an affirmative case for a life sentence and by training lawyers in capital voir dire. NACDL will work to have the ABA Guidelines for the Appointment and Performance of Defense Counsel in Death Penalty Cases (2003) adopted in every death penalty jurisdiction.

Goal 5. To Ensure Justice for Juveniles 

NACDL, through its leadership and Juvenile Justice Committee, will:

1. Provide continuing legal education and training for lawyers who represent juveniles in state and federal proceedings. This shall include education through publications, stand- alone and regular seminar programs, and joint seminars with other juvenile advocacy groups.

2. Educate the public and legislators regarding direct and collateral consequences of juvenile dispositions.

3. Oppose legislation which unfairly prejudices accused juveniles, including legislation lowering the age at which a child may be tried as an adult, increasing the number of offenses which make an accused juvenile eligible for trial as an adult, and providing the prosecution with ultimate decision- making as to whether a juvenile should be tried as an adult.

4. Ensure that juveniles be provided with appropriate rehabilitative services and alternative sentencing.

5. Ensure that juveniles be educated as to their constitutional and statutory rights.

Goal 6. Continue to Develop and Enhance NACDL’s Reputation Internationally.  

A. NACDL will work to maintain its ” NGO in Special Consultative Status with the Economic and Social Council of the United Nations” status and fully participate in relevant UN mechanism.

B. NACDL will identify opportunities for international participation consistent with its mission. For example, NACDL will continue to approach Governments and NGO’s for coordination of efforts to end the death penalty.

C. NACDL will continue its association with the International Criminal Defense Attorneys Association and will continue its participation in training lawyers in the International Criminal Court.

D. NACDL and its affiliates will continue participating in international fora consistent with NACDL’s mission.

Goal 7. To Evaluate NACDL’s Organizational Structure. 

To ensure that NACDL’s structure continues to meet its goals, the Board of Directors, in conjunction with the Executive Director, shall evaluate the manner in which NACDL operates. Recognizing that the growth of the Association impacts its ability to function, the Board in conjunction with the Executive Committee shall from time to time determine whether NACDL’s structure and operations are consistent with its goals and size.

A. Board Membership.

Under NACDL Bylaws, Art. VI, Sec. 2, the Board consists of thirty-five Directors elected by the membership, and four Affiliate Directors elected by the Council of Affiliates. The Nominating Committee is directed to “assure diversity of representation among the federal circuits whenever practicable,” to ensure at least two directors from each circuit, and to ensure minority and gender representation on the Board of Directors. Diversity among private and public defender practitioners is of paramount importance so that NACDL will function as a bar association that represents all criminal defense attorneys. NACDL will set additional criteria for nomination as a Board representative, including the number of years of membership in, and service to, the Association and the profession, committee work and recruitment of new members.

Nomination to a second term on the Board of Directors will not be automatic. When considering the question of whether to nominate a Board member to a second term, the Nominating Committee should consider the member’s: participation in recruitment of new members, attempts to retain current members, mentoring of new members, and committee involvement.

B. Promoting Leadership Development through Leadership Succession:

To promote leadership continuity and development, committee vice-chairs will be appointed with the expectation that they will become chairs in a later year. The President and President-Elect will confer on appointment of committee vice-chairs. One member of the Executive Committee shall be assigned to be a member of each active committee to promote coordination of the goals of the committee with the long range objectives of the organization.

C. Planning for Committee Work.

Each committee will have a mission statement, an annual working plan, and, if appropriate, a budget request. The budget request must be submitted before the annual budget is prepared. The plan will be submitted by the committee chair(s) and vice-chair(s) to the Executive Committee before the annual retreat. The plan will detail the committee’s anticipated efforts for the upcoming year, how the efforts will contribute to the NACDL’s long range goals, anticipated staffing needs/staff assistance, and likely costs, if any. Committees are encouraged to submit quarterly reports that not only detail the workings of the committee, but which reflect the committee’s progress in relationship to the goals identified in the committee plan. The Executive Committee is encouraged to hold an annual meeting with all committee chairs and vice-chairs to assess the long range goals of the current administration and the various committees’ roles toward achieving those goals for the Association.

D. Sunset Provision for Committees.

NACDL’s President and President-Elect will confer, and the President shall discontinue committees that are not contributing to attainment of the Association’s goals.

E. Staff Level Planning. As part of the budget forecast, the Executive Director will identify to the Budget Committee and the Board foreseeable changes in the number and composition of NACDL staff. All staff members, wherever located, shall be accountable to the Executive Director. The Board shall consider the feasibility of hiring additional staff members to work in the areas of public affairs research, training, CLE resources, fund raising, grant writing, and international affairs. The Executive Director will prepare a forecast of personnel requests before the annual budget is prepared.

F. Strengthen Affiliate Relations:

The Council of Affiliates is crucial to the implementation of organizational long-term goals. A separate committee shall be formulated to undertake the task of reviewing the role and function of the Council of Affiliates and the goals stated below.
NACDL must work with Affiliates to strengthen the network. To do so, NACDL and the Affiliates must:

1. Evaluate whether the current structure of the Council of Affiliates is functioning in a manner consistent with the Long Range Goals of NACDL and its Affiliates;

2. Devise a model that allows both the Affiliates and the NACDL to derive maximum benefit from affiliation with each other;

3 Prioritize areas of mutual benefit, including but not limited to legislative outreach, CLE training and the strike force;

4. Formulate a plan to accomplish their mutual goals;

5. Improve communication between NACDL and its Affiliates.

G. Evaluate Purchasing a Headquarters Building.

NACDL will create a Building Committee to work with staff to evaluate whether to purchase a building, continue to rent space, raise the necessary funds to purchase a building or, if appropriate, to relocate the headquarters outside Washington D.C.

The Committee will report its findings to the Board.

H. Responsibilities of Board Members.

The Board of Directors shall be charged with responsibility for committee participation. Directors shall act as NACDL liaisons in their affiliate(s) and participate actively in member recruitment.

I. Site Selection.

NACDL must select meeting and CLE sites with an eye toward member recruitment. NADCL must consider whether certain yearly events would be more effective if held in the same location each year or rotate among fixed locations. NACDL should avoid meeting and CLE sites that are overly difficult to reach or require extraordinary expenses for members. NACDL must rethink the effectiveness of allowing incoming Presidents to choose sites based on preferences personal to the President rather than organizational goals.

Goal 8: To increase membership by at least 5% each year and to tailor NACDL’s efforts to the needs of it’s members. NACDL will develop specific assessable efforts towards increasing Board, Officer and membership diversity, particularly in age, gender, race and ethnicity. 

A. NACDL will expand diversity in Board representation, as to gender, race and ethnicity by proactively identifying, recruiting, and retaining new members of diverse backgrounds through our members, committees and Board; NACDL will mentor and groom such persons for leadership position within NACDL. Membership and renewal applications should be tailored to capture data for NACDL to determine our progress toward achieving this goal.

B. NACDL Directors, Officers and past Presidents will contact lapsed members in their communities by letter and phone calls, when asked to do so by the national staff or Membership Committee.

C. NACDL encourages every committee and affiliate to develop and to prioritize at least one goal to recruit, retain or address an issue pertinent to young lawyers, women and persons of color practicing criminal defense.

D. NACDL should conduct, at least every 5 years, a comprehensive survey of members and affiliates to inquire into their needs and expectations. To assess our efforts toward diversity, the comprehensive survey to members shall make inquiry into and analyze responses by gender, race or ethnicity, and age, years of legal practice, years of criminal defense practice and years of NACDL membership. NACDL will periodically conduct targeted surveys so that we may quickly respond to the every-changing legal world in which our members live. Such surveys shall include both surveys by mail and pop-up surveys on our website.

E. NACDL will expand benefits and services to meet needs of members, to include all forms of insurance, healthcare, financial planning, and provision of childcare during CLE, Board and committee meetings.

F. NACDL will develop innovative events, such as an annual special events or biannual CLE Track options, that engage or emphasize issues of interest to young lawyers, women and persons of color practicing criminal defense.

G. Where opportunities may arise without conflicting NACDL core principles, NACDL will coordinate efforts to interact with bar organizations specifically serving or addressing issues pertinent to racial, ethnic or gender diversity.

H. NACDL will encourage law students to join and become active in the organization through continued support and sponsorship of such programs like, the Cat Bennett Trial Competition.

Goal 9. To provide innovative CLE programs that meet the diverse needs of criminal defense lawyers. To raise the standards of advocacy for criminal defense lawyers. 

A. NACDL will continue to produce quality innovative and timely CLE programs to raise the standards of practice of criminal defense lawyers. NACDL will present a spectrum of CLE programs targeting its diverse membership and recognizing its members’ different areas of practice. NACDL is committed to making its programs accessible and relevant to all of its members. CLE programs and association meetings provide an excellent forum to foster affinity among members and promote collegiality.

B. NACDL will solicit and involve the advance participation of local affiliates and local public defender offices in site selection, program choices, and event planning to increase CLE attendance of local affiliate members and non-members. To increase the diversity of CLE attendees, NACDL is committed to developing alternative lodging, alternative site selection, and seminar scheduling during the site non-peak times which will, in turn, reduce costs for attendees.

C. NACDL will work to provide creative, innovative and effective continuing education programs that will raise the level of advocacy for criminal defense lawyers in all practice areas. NACDL will offer “nuts and bolts” programs that benefit many of its members as well as seminars in more specialized areas of practice. The CLE Committee will identify and recruit talented presenters. Presenters need not be nationally prominent, but they must represent a broad spectrum of legal expertise. There must be a strong emphasis on diversity of speakers based on age, gender, nationality, and race. The CLE Committee will be empowered to provide financial reimbursement, where necessary, to speakers.

D. NACDL will establish a CLE Financial Committee composed of representatives from the CLE Committee, Budget Committee and stand alone programs to report to the Executive Committee on the viability of the CLE programs, including but not limited to, whether the association should produce CLE programs at each quarterly meeting as stand alone programs. The Committee will also review the question of the financial viability or contribution of such programs, as well as determine whether the organization should partner with affiliate organizations to bring CLE programs to other fora.

E. The CLE Committee will have three rotating chairs in order to maintain continuity in programming and institutional memory. This rotating continuity will ensure NACDL’s ability to meet the diverse needs of criminal defense lawyers.

Goal 10. To Use New Technology for Members’ Benefit and to Improve Delivery of Member Services. 

A. NACDL will promote members’ access to computer technology by seeking affinity group partnerships that will offer members technological equipment and services at affordable prices.

1. Maintaining a free, private and secure internet is essential to all NACDL goals. Legislative initiatives must be consistent with the goal to maintain a free and secure internet. Moreover, NACDL must protect the attorney client privilege from all technological incursions.

2. NACDL will continue to make our members and affiliates aware, through CLE, the Champion and its website, of emerging technologies and the potential of those technologies to improve members’ practices.

3. NACDL must take appropriate action to secure the privacy of it’s members’ communications and information.

B. NACDL will enable Members to Electronically Access NACDL Resources:

1. NACDL will make available teleconferencing and video conferencing to members to further member participation in NACDL. NACDL will seek to make available to members at low cost, high band width internet access with video conferencing capacity, encryption services, cell phone bundles, computer and server bundles, law office management software bundles, internet telephone bundles and firewall bundles.

2. NACDL will continue to establish website fora by practice specialties.

3. NACDL will continue to make available on its website or via on line links, all materials on NACDL’s member document repositories such as brief and motion banks.

4. NACDL will continue to develop fora on the website geared toward each committee topic.

C. NACDL will use Technology to Educate the Public:

To meet the public education goal established in this Long Range Plan, NACDL will use available technologies to channel information to the media and to the public.

D. NACDL will make its membership directory available in the public section of its website in order to serve as a resource to the public to find criminal defense representation.

Goal 11. To enhance non-dues revenue streams. 

NACDL must increase all revenues if it is to fund its plans and augment its capacity to fulfill its mission. There must be a sustained commitment to cultivate program-specific funding sources, as well as general support for the organization. NACDL will work in partnership with its supporting 501 ( c ) (3) organization, the Foundation for Criminal Justice, to sustain short and long-term fundraising initiatives including an annual campaign, an endowment fund campaign and planned giving. Board members and leaders will participate in all aspects of these initiatives consistent with their ability to do so. A member committee will be established to work in conjunction with the Foundation to develop strategies for increasing revenue.

Goal 12. To Achieve Continuity in the Long Range Plan. 

To meet the goals set for the association, the Long Range Planning Committee shall report as necessary on NACDL’s progress toward fulfilling its goals. In its monitoring and advisory efforts, the committee’s membership will be staggered to allow for both continuity and for “new blood.” Four members will be appointed each year to three year terms.

NACDL will revise its long range plan every five years, with necessary updates and adjustments approved by the Committee at other times as the Committee Deems necessary.

The Long Range Plan will be presented on NACDL’s website in such a way as to link those portions of the Plan to the relevant committees. Each committee chair will revise committee plans to include mission statements.

In off years, the Committee will actively consult with Board and other committee members with an eye toward necessary Long Range Plan revisions. Moreover, to ensure the direct flow of information, the Long Range Planning Committee (“LRPC”) chair or co-chair will attend each Executive Committee retreat. Moreover, to further ensure Plan integration in NACDL efforts, the Chair or Co-Chair of the LRPC will be a standing member of the Budget Committee.

NACDL will revise its long range plan every five years, with necessary updates and adjustments at least every two years. 

Cincinatti, Ohio

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