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News Releases ~ 2009

The National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers and The Heritage Foundation -- On Tuesday, December 8, the Supreme Court will hear oral arguments in two high-profile “honest services” fraud cases, Conrad Black v. United States and Bruce Weyhrauch v. United States. In his often-quoted dissent from denial of certiorari in Sorich v. United States, Justice Scalia wrote: “If the ’honest services’ theory ... is taken seriously and carried to its logical conclusion, presumably the statute also renders criminal a state legislator’s decision to vote for a bill because he expects it will curry favor with a small minority essential to his reelection [and] a mayor’s attempt to use the prestige of his office to obtain a restaurant table without a reservation .... Indeed, it would seemingly cover a salaried employee’s phoning in sick to go to a ball game.” More  

The National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers and the Washington Legal Foundation Present: -- This program will examine prosecutors' interpretation and enforcement of the federal "honest services fraud" statute in anticipation of the Supreme Court's December 8 oral arguments in the highly publicized Weyhrauch and Black appeals. More 

NACDL Statement on Detainee Transfers to US Court -- Washington, DC (November 13, 2009) – In light of today’s announcement by the White House that the alleged “high value” Guantanamo detainees charged with planning or participating in the 9/11 attack will now be tried in federal court rather than the constitutionally-defective military commission system, Norman L. Reimer, Executive Director of the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers, released the following statement. More 

National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers Releases Preliminary Recommendations on Strengthening Forensic Science -- Washington, DC (November 10, 2009) – Contrary to media portrayals of forensic science in popular TV shows, forensic science evidence presented in court is often based on speculative research, subjective interpretations and inadequate quality control procedures. Ensuring the scientific integrity of forensic science evidence is essential to preventing wrongful convictions and exonerating the innocent. In support of reform efforts of the forensic science community, the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers has released a 12-page preliminary report advocating a “culture of science” in the forensic science community and supporting the establishment of a national resource center for forensic science. More  

NACDL and The Heritage Foundation invite you to a book event: Three Felonies a Day: How Vague Criminal Laws Allow the Feds to Target the Innocent -- Washington, DC­ (October 26, 2009) – The average citizen in this country wakes up in the morning, goes to work, comes home, eats dinner, and then goes to sleep, unaware that he or she has likely committed several federal crimes that day. Why? The answer lies in the very nature of modern federal criminal laws, which have exploded in number but also become impossibly broad and vague. In Three Felonies a Day, Harvey Silverglate reveals how federal criminal laws have become dangerously disconnected from the English common law tradition and how prosecutors can pin arguable federal crimes on any one of us, even for the most seemingly innocuous behavior. More  

Drug Courts Endanger Rights, Block Access To Needed Treatment for Drug Users -- Washington, DC­ (September 29, 2009) – Drug courts – first created 20 years ago as an emergency response to an epidemic of drug-related criminal cases that clogged courts and prisons – have in many places become an obstacle to making cost-efficient drug abuse therapy available to addicts and reducing criminal case loads, the nation’s largest association of criminal defense attorneys said today. More 

Another Detainee Sues to Stop ‘Renegade’ Commissions -- Washington, DC­ (September 21, 2009) – The military commissions judge at Guantanamo Bay granted a motion Monday to halt all proceedings in the case against five alleged 9/11 conspirators until the Obama administration decides whether it will transfer the cases to federal court. The administration says it will make that decision by November 16, 2009. The defendants, three of whom represent themselves, chose not to attend the Commission session; the two represented defendants were told that neither they nor their counsel were allowed to be in court, although counsel for Ramzi bin al Shibh attended nonetheless. More 

Suit Requests End to 'Renegade' Commissions -- Washington, DC (September 9, 2009) – Attorneys for Guantanamo defendant Ramzi Bin al Shibh and the John Adams Project have filed a lawsuit in federal court to halt renegade military commission proceedings at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. The petition for extraordinary relief filed today asks the Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit to enjoin the prosecution of five high value detainees, consistent with President Barack Obama’s Executive Order of January 22, 2009. Defense attorneys are asking the court to assert jurisdiction over the commissions and compel a stop to all proceedings on the grounds that the commissions are unconstitutional and continue to operate without regard for the rule of law. The attorneys hope to shed light on the lawlessness of the military tribunal and force the Obama administration to formally charge the defendants in federal court. More  

San Antonio Attorney Cynthia Hujar Orr Installed as President of National Criminal Defense Bar -- Washington, DC (August 11, 2009) – Cynthia Hujar Orr of San Antonio, Tex., was sworn in as President of the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers at its 51st Annual Meeting in Boston, Mass., on Aug. 8. More 

Diverse Coalition Secures House of Representatives Attention on the Issue of Over-Criminalization -- Washington, DC­ (July 22, 2009) – NACDL played a key role in a diverse coalition of organizations that worked together to bring about today’s hearing on “Over-criminalization of Conduct and Over-Federalization of Criminal Law” before the U.S. House of Representatives Crime, Terrorism, and Homeland Security Subcommittee (Chairman Scott, D-Va.). The coalition includes the American Bar Association, American Civil Liberties Union, Cato Institute, Constitution Project, Federalist Society, Heritage Foundation, National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers, and Washington Legal Foundation. More 

Supreme Court: Cross-Examination Crucial To Exposing Junk Science and Bogus ‘Experts’ -- Washington, DC­ (June 25, 2009) – A criminal defendant’s right to confront the witnesses against him includes the right to challenge the testimony of state crime lab technicians through cross-examination of those witnesses, the U.S. Supreme Court held today. The Court held that a state may not submit a drug analysis report in lieu of live testimony by the crime lab technicians over a defendant’s hearsay objection. The case is Melendez-Diaz v. Massachusetts, No. 07-591. The National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers, along with the National Association of Federal Defenders and the National College for DUI Defense filed a friend-of-the-court brief in the case. More  

Large Political Contributions in Judicial Races Implicate Due Process, Supreme Court Rules -- Washington, DC­ (June 8, 2009) – Today’s Supreme Court ruling that due process requires the recusal of an elected judge whenever it appears that the judge has been bought and paid for with campaign contributions by one of the parties before him is a victory for the integrity of the courts, the president of the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers said. NACDL President John Wesley Hall, a noted legal ethicist, said in a statement the decision sends a clear message that “judicial electioneering may cross a constitutional line." More  

NACDL President John Wesley Hall Testifies in Congress on National Crisis in Indigent Representation -- Washington, DC­ (June 5, 2009) – NACDL President John Wesley Hall testified Thursday, June 4, before the House Judiciary Committee’s Subcommittee on Crime, Terrorism, and Homeland Security’s hearing on “the growing national crisis” in indigent representation. Hall’s statement and testimony on behalf of NACDL featured the recently released NACDL monograph, “Minor Crimes, Massive Waste: The Terrible Toll of America’s Broken Misdemeanor Courts.” The report was introduced by Rep. Bobby Scott in his opening remarks and was a focus of discussion among the committee members. More

Shana-Tara Regon to Lead NACDL White Collar Crime Policy Office -- Washington, DC­ (May 27, 2009) – The National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers, Norman Reimer, Executive Director, is pleased to announce that attorney Shana-Tara Regon has joined the association’s national office as Director of White Collar Crime Policy. More 

Detainees Must Be Afforded Rights Required By U.S. Constitution and the Uniform Code of Military Justice -- Washington, DC­ (May 15, 2009) – Numerous press reports indicate that President Obama is prepared to revive the unconstitutional Bush-era military commissions for detainees at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, many of whom were subject to so-called “enhanced interrogation techniques” and prolonged secret CIA detention. This course of action is simply unacceptable. An announcement providing details of the President’s plan is expected to be made today. More 

N.Y.: Police Need Warrant for GPS Surveillance; Civil Liberties, Religious Groups Applaud Decision -- Washington, DC­ (May 12, 2009) Police must obtain a warrant, based upon probable cause to believe criminal activity is afoot, before secretly installing global positioning satellite (GPS) transmitters on private vehicles, New York’s highest court ruled today. The case, People v. Weaver, has profound implications for the privacy rights of individuals and organizations. The National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers and a diverse group of civil liberties and religious organizations filed a friend-of-the-court brief in the case arguing that persons’ privacy interests in where they go, what they do, and who they meet deserve some measure of protection from government surveillance. More 

U.S. Department of Justice Supports Ending Obscene Disparity in Cocaine Sentencing -- Washington, DC­ (April 29, 2009) Assistant United States Attorney General Lanny Breuer today announced that DOJ and the administration support ending the 100:1 sentencing disparity between crack and powder cocaine and equalizing the sentencing regimes. The policy position, declared at a hearing before the Senate Judiciary subcommittee on Crime and Drugs, is the first time the Department of Justice has publicly supported equalization of cocaine sentencing. More 

Taxpayers’ millions down the drain--along with Constitution -- NEWS ITEM: Misdemeanors will no longer be prosecuted in Contra Costa County [Cal.] because of budget cuts, the county’s top prosecutor said Tuesday. The changes are needed to help eliminate a $1.9 million budget deficit in the district attorney’s office for this fiscal year. By month’s end, 6 deputy district attorneys will be laid off, and 11 more will have to be let go by the end of the year. –San Francisco Chronicle, Apr. 22, 2009 at B1. More  

Past President William B. Moffitt (1949 – 2009) -- Washington, DC­ (April 27, 2009) Past President William B. (Bill) Moffitt passed away Friday morning, April 24. He was 60 years old. More 

'GPS' Surveillance Threatens Civil Liberties, Group Says -- Washington, DC­ (March 23, 2009) – People v. Weaver, which will consider whether a police officer, in his own discretion, may undertake Global Positioning Satellite (GPS) surveillance of individuals without any judicial oversight, was argued in New York’s highest court on Tuesday, March 24, at 2:00 p.m. Here’s is a link to the video of that argument: Weaver argument. A lower court ruled that police have no obligation to obtain permission of a judge prior to undertaking such monitoring. Members of the public have no way of knowing if their movements are subject to electronic surveillance from which there is no legal protection. More 

Houston Attorney Jim E. Lavine elected First Vice President of the National Criminal Defense Bar Assn. -- Washington, DC­ (March 9, 2009) – Houston attorney Jim E. Lavine was elected First Vice President of the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers (NACDL) at the association’s mid-winter meeting in New Orleans, Louisiana, on Feb 28. Mr. Lavine also serves as Chair of the Steering Committee for NACDL’s Capital Campaign and previously served on the Board of Directors of NACDL. In addition, he will continue his service on the Executive Committee as Parliamentarian for NACDL. More 

Supreme Court Vacates Fourth Circuit Opinion on Indefinite Detention -- Washington, DC­ (March 6, 2009) – The Supreme Court today vacated a Fourth Circuit ruling in the case of al-Marri v. Spagone (08-368) that upheld the president’s authority to indefinitely detain a legal U.S. resident as an “enemy combatant.” The decision is a post-mortem blow to the Bush administration’s claim of plenary executive power and a welcome victory for the basic constitutional guarantee that no person shall be deprived of liberty without due process of law. NACDL filed an amicus brief (pdf) on the merits, arguing that the indefinite detention of a lawful resident as an “enemy combatant” violates the Sixth Amendment and disrupts the criminal justice system and the courts. More 

Heritage, NACDL Again Opposing More Bad Federal Legislation -- Washington, DC­ (February 26, 2009) – The Heritage Foundation and the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers (NACDL) today released a joint letter to the Senate Judiciary Committee opposing the Public Corruption Prosecution Improvements Act (S. 49) as an unnecessary expansion of federal criminal law. More 

Scientific Establishment Validates Defense Bar’s Long-Held Concerns About Junk Science -- Washington, DC­ (February 18, 2009) A much anticipated report by the National Research Council (NRC) of the National Academy of Sciences (NAS) on the state of forensic science in the U.S. and its recommendations to fix a broadly flawed system was released today. Finding an inconsistent system rife with “serious deficiencies,” lacking practitioner and laboratory independence, standards, oversight, and certification, the NRC called today for major reforms, including the establishment of a wholly independent federal agency, the National Institute of Forensic Science (NIFS), to address the manifold problems with the current science and system. More 

Civil Liberties, Religious Groups Seek to Require Warrants for Police GPS Surveillance -- Washington, DC­ (February 6, 2009) A diverse group of civil liberties and religious organizations this week weighed in on the question of whether police need a warrant in order to conduct surveillance of personal vehicles by secretly attaching global positioning satellite (GPS) transmitters. The case, which is scheduled to be heard next month in New York’s highest court, has profound implications for the privacy rights of individuals and organizations. More 

Guantanamo, the Rule of Law, and the Law of Nations -- Washington, DC­ (January 22, 2009) The National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers (NACDL) congratulates President Barack Obama for the courageous executive orders he signed this morning and for his expressed willingness, in his own words, “to restore the standards of due process and core constitutional values” as his administration seeks to bring justice to the U.S. prisoners at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. More 

Obama Administration Halts Military Commission Trials at Guantanamo -- Washington, DC­ (January 21, 2009) In one of his first official acts, President Barack Obama, in the hours after he was sworn in on Jan. 20, 2009, instructed prosecutors in the Military Commission proceedings at the U.S. Naval Base at Guantanamo Bay to seek a 120-day suspension of pending legal proceedings at “Camp Justice.” In light of that Presidential order, the U.S. government filed a motion last night to continue the matter of U.S. v. Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, et al., for 120 days. The motion was granted this morning by the presiding military judge, Col. Stephen R. Henley. In his order, Col. Henley suspended all military commission sessions until May 20, 2009, finding it in the interests of justice to provide the new Administration time to review the process and to decide the proper forum to prosecute the accused. More 

Guantanamo Observers Protest Trial Secrecy -- Washington, DC­ (January 15, 2009) – The National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers, on behalf of the John Adams Project, would like to thank the American Bar Association, the American Civil Liberties Union, Human Rights First and Human Rights Watch for their joint friend-of-the-court brief decrying the secrecy curtain that was drawn around the Guantanamo military commission trials in December. Late last month, the military judge issued Protective Order 007 effectively closing the courtroom to all public scrutiny, even treating public information as if it were classified. More 

Closing 'Camp Injustice' -- Washington, DC­ (January 14, 2009) – “It is a sad fact, ignored or overlooked by many, that most of the [Guantanamo] detainees will never be prosecuted for any crime,” John Wesley Hall, president of the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers, writes in this month’s issue of the association’s magazine. “We jailed those innocent people for their purported ‘information.’” Hall argues that the camps ought to be, and can be, emptied immediately and the prisoners sent home to their families “with our deepest apologies.” More 

2009-2010 Officers and Newly Elected Board of Directors Members Sworn in at Annual Meeting -- NACDL elected and swore in its new Officers and Board of Directors members at its annual conference in Boston, Mass. on Aug. 8, 2009. NACDL Past President Martin S. Pinales was awarded the 29th annual Robert C. Heeney Memorial Award, NACDL's most prestigious honor. Renowned researcher and advocate Robert L. Spangenberg was awarded the Champion of Indigent Defense Award. U.S. District Court Judge Lewis A. Kaplan (S.D.N.Y.) was awarded the Judicial Recognition Award. ABC journalists Shana Druckerman and Juju Chang were awarded the Champion of Justice Journalism Award. University of Utah second year law student Nicholas C. Mills was awarded first prize in NACDL’s student diversity essay competition. More  

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