News Release ~ 2003-2

NACDL Executive Committee passes resolution in support of judge threatened with subpoena by Congress

When the House Judiciary Committee recently began to consider adoption of an unprecedented resolution allowing it to subpoena a sitting federal judge and force him to locate and produce information regarding his sentencing decisions, NACDL leadership stepped up to provide support.

Chief Judge James M. Rosenbaum of the District of Minnesota had appeared voluntarily before the committee in May, 2002, to testify in support of the United States Sentencing Commission position, opposing increases in the sentencing guidelines for less-culpable drug offenders. The committee issued a report following Judge Rosenbaum’s testimony, accusing him of deceit in his description of guideline practices in his district.

In response to news of the potential subpoena, Milton Hirsch, co-chair of NACDL’s Judicial Relations Committee, drafted a resolution in support of Judge Rosenbaum, which was then approved by the executive committee.

The resolution states that use of legislative subpoena power on a sitting judge is an unprecedented breach of the separation of powers, and calls on the House Judiciary Committee to refrain from issuing the subpoena, to apologize to Judge Rosenbaum for its previous report, and to respect judicial discretion with respect to administration of the sentencing guidelines.

NACDL leadership and committee chairs have sent the resolution and letters to numerous federal judges to make them aware of the situation. Click to view the resolution and accompanying letter.

The National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers is the preeminent organization advancing the mission of the criminal defense bar to ensure justice and due process for persons accused of crime or wrongdoing. A professional bar association founded in 1958, NACDL's approximately 9,000 direct members in 28 countries – and 90 state, provincial and local affiliate organizations totaling up to 40,000 attorneys – include private criminal defense lawyers, public defenders, military defense counsel, law professors and judges committed to preserving fairness and promoting a rational and humane criminal justice system.

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