Foundation Honors Defenders at Event in DC

On May 19, 2011, the Foundation for Criminal Justice (FCJ) held a reception in the nation’s capital at the Decatur House on Lafayette Square. Darrel J. Vandeveld, a Lieutenant Colonel in the U.S. Army Reserve who served with the Office of the Chief Prosecutor for the Guantánamo Military Commissions, was the keynote speaker. Vandeveld (pictured below on left) resigned his post as a Guantánamo prosecutor over what he termed ethical lapses and systemic failures that rendered the Commissions unable to achieve justice. Looking back on his experiences as a prosecutor, Vandeveld told the audience, “I’ve learned lessons that I hope will guide my life from now on, and they’ve obviously guided yours.” Vandeveld, an NACDL member, is now the Chief Public Defender for Erie County, Pa.

At the FCJ event, NACDL President Jim E. Lavine presented Guardian of Liberty Awards to the Office of the Federal Defenders of the District of Columbia and to the Public Defender Service for the District of Columbia. As explained by Lavine, “Through the efforts of the Federal Public Defenders in D.C., under the extraordinary leadership of A.J. Kramer, the office has secured counsel for approximately 80 detainees at Guantánamo,” an endeavor that Lavine said “will go down in the history of America’s criminal defense bar as one of the finest and most selfless achievements.” NACDL recognized the Public Defender Service for the District of Columbia, currently under the direction of Avis Buchanan, for its 50 years as “the gold standard by which all other indigent defender programs have been measured,” Lavine explained.

In addition, Lavine presented nearly three dozen law firms, defender offices, and individuals with Certificates of Honor recognizing their significant contributions preparing and submitting NACDL amicus briefs to the U.S. Supreme Court, and numerous federal and state appellate courts.

At a breakfast held before the NACDL Spring Board Meeting on May 20, NACDL presented Mark V. Holden, general counsel of Koch Industries, with its Defender of Justice Leadership Award in recognition of his and Koch’s “vision and courage” reflected in their ongoing support for NACDL’s mission. Upon receiving the award, Holden explained to NACDL’s Board of Directors that he and Koch unconditionally “support what you in this room do every day to ensure individual liberty and freedom.” He added, “Your role was provided for in the Bill of Rights … [and] our founding fathers believed you all were and are essential and necessary for the proper administration of a free society and to ensure and protect the freedom and rights of individuals.” 


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