For most of us, COVID-19 is like nothing we have ever experienced. In these frightening times, as we worry about the safety of our families, our loved ones, and our colleagues, we can draw strength from our shared commitment to our clients, to redressing systemic racism and inequities in the criminal justice system, and to the preservation of the core values guaranteed by the Constitution.
If you are like me, you cling to these ideals now more than ever. Hard times require character, resolve, spirit, and heart. These are the universal qualities of the criminal defense lawyer. This is a lot to be proud of and even more to live up to. Personally, I could not be prouder to be NACDL’s President than I am during this crisis.
I want to take this opportunity to thank you, NACDL’s members and Liberty’s Last Champions, for all that you do for your clients and for the cause of justice during this challenging period. Your efforts to protect the rights of the accused and vulnerable jail and prison populations are heroic in normal times, so there are no words to describe NACDL’s and my gratitude for your commitment now. I urge all of you who are able to utilize your personal connections, in addition to official court filings, to seek life-saving relief for your clients. I encourage you to educate prosecutors and judges to recognize that this is a time to take swift and comprehensive mitigating steps and actions to protect the vulnerable. I personally have found this sort of advocacy within the professional networks I interact with to be particularly effective.
As many of you know, including those of you who have already volunteered, NACDL is supporting an historic pro bono effort to secure compassionate release for the most vulnerable federal prisoners. NACDL and its partners are currently recruiting attorneys, social workers, and medical professionals to work on compassionate release motions for those inmates most vulnerable to COVID-19: the elderly and chronically ill. The passage of the First Step Act in December 2018 expanded federal compassionate release under 18 U.S.C. §3582(c)(1), allowing inmates to file compassionate release motions directly with their sentencing courts. The First Step Act also expanded the sentencing courts’ discretion to reduce sentences based on "extraordinary and compelling reasons" under 18 U.S.C. §3582(c)(1). The COVID-19 pandemic is without question an "extraordinary and compelling reason." And you can help! Please join this effort and volunteer by completing this compassionate release volunteer form. And please spread the word and share the link.
I am also extremely grateful that so many of you have contributed excellent model motions and other court papers, advocacy letters, and links to other aggregators of coronavirus resources of interest to the criminal justice community for posting to NACDL’s robust coronavirus resource. Please continue to do so not just on the listservs but also by emailing content to NACDL Senior Director of Public Affairs & Communications Ivan Dominguez at email@example.com. Ivan works with other members of the NACDL team to enhance this resource every day in order to serve NACDL members, advocates, and the public throughout this crisis. Please share this resource with your professional networks and communities.
NACDL will continue to be in close contact with you throughout this challenging time. And I encourage you to visit NACDL’s website to stay updated as to the Association’s work, including its educational programs as well as its ongoing legal and policy efforts.
One final and very important request: In this challenging time, please help NACDL continue to serve you and your clients during this public health crisis and beyond. Click here to renew or to sponsor a new member. Click here to support the NACDL Foundation for Criminal Justice with a donation.
Nina J. Ginsberg
A Defender’s Guide to Federal Evidence: A Trial Practice Handbook for Criminal Defense Attorneys
This Guide to Federal Evidence is the only federal evidence handbook written exclusively for criminal defense lawyers. The Guide analyzes each Federal Rule of Evidence and outlines the main evidentiary issues that confront criminal defense lawyers. It also summarizes countless defense favorable cases and provides tips on how to avoid common evidentiary pitfalls. The Guide contains multiple user-friendly flowcharts aimed at helping the criminal defense lawyer tackle evidence problems. A Defender’s Guide to Federal Evidence is an indispensable tool in preparing a case for trial.
Modern Digital Evidence & Technologies in Criminal Cases
Modern cases need modern defenses, and modern lawyers can't practice with an outdated playbook. This program is a contemporary training that identifies emerging technologies and digital evidence encountered in today's criminal cases and arms you with the tools necessary to combat expert witnesses, prosecutorial overreach, and an uneducated judge and jury. This comprehensive CLE program covers both general aspects of new technologies as well as practical courtroom application and legal challenges to the use of these new technologies.
Top Shelf DUI Defenses: The Law, The Science, The Techniques (2021)
If you are serious about being an effective DUI defense advocate, or if you’re considering adding DUI defenses to your portfolio, you need to know the latest scientific and legal strategies to optimize your success at trial. Learn from the best-of-the-best in the field in this unique CLE Program, updated for 2021.
Defending Modern Drug Cases (2021)
From challenging the arrest and seizure to picking a jury and cross-examining police officers, defense attorneys handling drug cases must be able to construct a defense that will increase the chances of the client getting a positive result for your client.
Effective motion practice, juror selection, and storytelling have never been more important. This seminar will introduce defense counsel to techniques that have been used at recent drug trials to rebut specific claims and overcome the emotion created in today’s criminal legal system.