News Release ~ 07/21/1999

New Criminal Defense Lawyers'' President Decries "Gutting" of Citizens Rights

First African-American President in 25 Years

Washington DC (July 21, 1999) -- An unsettling political climate which "tramples on the constitutional rights of Americans, regardless of their innocence, and which ignores legitimate alternatives to incarceration" has made the work of criminal defense lawyers "more difficult and more essential than ever", said William B. Moffitt, incoming president of the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers (NACDL).

Moffitt will be sworn in as NACDL''s new president this week as the association gathers for its annual meeting in Washington, D.C. Moffitt is only the second African-American to hold this position in NACDL''s 40-year history. "As a society, we must do a better job as protectors of civil rights and as ensurers of due process for all Americans," he said.

Moffitt, a partner with the Washington D.C. law firm of Asbill, Junkin & Moffitt, has a well-earned reputation as a distinguished criminal defense attorney. He specializes in a variety of practice areas including white collar defense and criminal trial and appellate litigation. An inspired and acclaimed lecturer, Moffitt speaks throughout the country on psychological issues associated with criminal conduct as well as civil rights and racial inequality within the criminal justice system.

In a recent high-profile case, Moffitt served as counsel for Michael Abbell, a former high-ranking Justice Department official accused of engaging in a major drug-trafficking conspiracy with the Cali drug cartel. Previously, Moffitt represented William Aramony, former head of the United Way who was indicted for embezzlement and represented the colorful extremist Lyndon LaRouche. He was also involved in the defense of alleged Libyan terrorists.

He is a member of the faculty of the prestigious National Criminal Defense College in Macon, Georgia and is listed in Best Lawyers in America. Moffitt has served on NACDL''s board of directors since 1989.

Moffitt, a native of New York, is a graduate of the University of Oklahoma. While there, he was elected student body president in 1970, the first African-American student to hold that office. During the late 1960s and early 1970s, Moffitt was an active participant in the civil rights movement. This experience propelled him to seek a larger role rallying against a fundamentally flawed and unfair legal system. Shortly afterward, he received his J.D. from American University''s Washington College of Law.

In 1996, Moffitt testified before the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights regarding the draconian three strikes legislation and how it unfairly affects minorities. He also testified on behalf of NACDL at the Clarence Thomas hearings in opposition to Thomas''s nomination to the Supreme Court. He is an outspoken critic of the Clinton Administration for its contributions to a criminal justice system that has institutionalized racial unfairness and inequality and its evisceration of the constitutional rights of all Americans.

"The new millennium brings with it unique challenges to our nation''s criminal justice system," Moffitt said. "It is an honor and a privilege for me to steward NACDL across the century threshold to deal with critical injustices facing us in the years ahead."

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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