I hope this message finds you, your loved ones, and your colleagues doing well and heeding all applicable precautions in this most difficult time. The risks to the health of our clients and those close to us is uppermost in our minds. But we also recognize that the near total shutdown also brings untold financial and emotional stress. As a membership organization that embodies the unique spirit of camaraderie that binds the criminal defense bar, NACDL is striving to do everything we can to support you throughout this public health crisis.
By now, many of you are aware of NACDL’s ever-growing coronavirus resource. Since the middle of March, NACDL has been gathering, and you – Liberty’s Last Champions – have been sending, extraordinarily helpful content for this resource. In addition to NACDL’s statements, principles, and messages concerning the coronavirus pandemic and the U.S. criminal justice system, this resource offers scores of motions, pleadings, rulings, letters, platforms, and dynamic databases tracking developments in the nation’s jails, prisons, courts, and legislatures. The coronavirus resource page also includes important links concerning the availability of financial support for workers and small businesses who have been hit hard by the shutdown. NACDL will continue to work diligently on this resource throughout the current crisis. I invite you to submit relevant material directly to NACDL Senior Director of Public Affairs and Communications Ivan Dominguez at firstname.lastname@example.org.
As we know that most of the nation is under stay-at-home orders, going to one’s office for many is no longer a part of the daily routine. Rather, many of us, including NACDL’s professional staff, are working from home. NACDL wants to be sure you do not miss out on even a single issue of The Champion magazine. To accomplish that, NACDL is making a full color PDF of the entire March issue available to members on the website. All you need to do is click that link and log in to nacdl.org using your member credentials. It is important to point out that this issue of The Champion was completed and in production prior to the pandemic sweeping the nation.
In keeping with NACDL’s commitment to offer the best in legal education for the criminal defense bar and recognizing the hardship and disruption this pandemic has caused to all aspects of our lives, NACDL is offering a three-week series of free online and on-demand continuing legal education programs to you, NACDL’s members. This week, through April 10, the available programs are “Practical Considerations for Cross-Examining Adult Complainants in Sexual Assault Cases” (presented by Jason Downs of Baltimore, MD) and “Radical Jury Tools for Difficult, Challenging, Troublesome Trials” (presented by SunWolf of Santa Clara, CA). All you need to do to watch these webinars, as well as those each week for the next two weeks, is log in and register.
COVID-19 Federal Compassionate Release Project
Yesterday, working together with FAMM and the Washington Lawyers’ Committee on Civil Rights and Urban Affairs, NACDL announced the launch of an emergency COVID-19 initiative of the groups’ joint Compassionate Release Clearinghouse. To date, hundreds of attorneys have stepped up to volunteer to save the lives of at-risk individuals through this effort. Since the arrival of the coronavirus pandemic in the United States, more than 400 individuals in federal prison have requested the assistance of the Compassionate Release Clearinghouse, and requests are coming in every day. While the coronavirus epidemic is a medical emergency, lawyers too can help save lives. I ask that you join us in this urgent effort by volunteering.
The virus has forced the entire nation to come together as one enormous extended community. All of us have to do our part to stop the spread of the infection and to mitigate its impact on the most vulnerable among us. Perhaps when we are on the other side of this, the renewed sense of community will be just the thing we need to once and for all restore rationality and humanity to our criminal justice system.
Stay well and safe.
Norman L. Reimer
Executive Director, NACDL
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