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March 29, 2013; Vol. 12 No. 3

Shortchanging the Sixth Amendment: New Report Reveals Severe Underfunding of Assigned Counsel Systems

Earlier this month, NACDL released a report revealing the woefully inadequate compensation rates received by assigned defense counsel across the fifty U.S. states. Prepared by NACDL Indigent Defense Counsel John Gross, Rationing Justice: The Underfunding of Assigned Counsel Systems documents the low rates paid to assigned counsel and how this practice results in defendants receiving inadequate representation. The nation marked the 50th anniversary of the Supreme Court’s decision in Gideon v. Wainwright on March 18 and this report serves as a stark reminder that much work remains to secure the meaningful protection of Americans’ Sixth Amendment right to counsel. Rationing Justice: The Underfunding of Assigned Counsel Systems is the first part of NACDL’s new study, Gideon at 50: A Three-Part Examination of Indigent Defense in America. 

To read more, click here.


NACDL and The Heritage Foundation Co-Sponsored “Gideon at 50” Event

NACDL and The Heritage Foundation recently held an event, "Gideon at 50: Fundamental Right, Ongoing Challenge," in which a panel of experts reflected on the continuing challenges 50 years after the landmark decision in Gideon v. Wainwright. The panel underscored the importance of the right to counsel and that support for indigent defense in particular enjoys broad ideological support. The panelists included Steven D. Benjamin, NACDL President; Jim Bethke, Executive Director of the Texas Indigent Defense Commission; and Rhoda Billings, Former Chief Justice of North Carolina. The panel was co-hosted by former Attorney General Edwin Meese III, and Norman Reimer, Executive Director of NACDL.

To view the webcast of the event, click here.


U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder Speaks on Necessity to Improve Indigent Defense

The Department of Justice hosted a 50th anniversary celebration of the U.S. Supreme Court decision in Gideon v. Wainwright on March 15, 2013. Speaking at the event, U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder reminded all those with a stake in the criminal justice system that while much progress has been made in the years since Gideon, much work remains. Holder said that a lack of adequate representation for defendants “undermine[s] the strength, integrity, and public trust in our legal system.” He also acknowledged the role that NACDL and other organizations play in advocating for improvements to the nation’s indigent defense system and announced several new grants designed to assist public defenders and others who work in indigent defense. NACDL President Steven D. Benjamin, NACDL Executive Director Norman L. Reimer, and NACDL Associate Executive Director for Policy Kyle O’Dowd attended the event.


Supreme Court: Dog Sniffs At Persons’ Homes Are Searches Requiring Probable Cause Under the Fourth Amendment

On March 26, the Supreme Court decided Florida v. Jardines, holding that law enforcement’s use of a narcotics detection dog at Mr. Jardines's front door is a Fourth Amendment search that requires probable cause. This was the second dog sniff opinion of the term. In Jardines, though, the Court sided with personal rights over law enforcement’s use of enhanced searching technologies.  NACDL argued in its joint amicus brief that the use of a trained police narcotics dog is a search and is not materially different from the use of GPS or thermal heat imaging technology. Law enforcement may not use these enhanced search technologies to intrude upon private spaces without a warrant.

For more information, click here.


Maryland Legislature Votes to Repeal the Death Penalty

On March 15, Maryland moved one step closer to abolishing the death penalty. The House of Delegates – by a margin of 82 to 56 – joined the Senate and voted to repeal the death penalty in Maryland. Governor O’Malley, who has made the legislation one of his top priorities, is expected to sign the bill into law in April. In February, NACDL President, Steven D. Benjamin, submitted testimony to the Maryland Senate and House of Delegates in favor of the repeal. Maryland will become  the 18th state to abolish the death penalty. Connecticut abolished the death penalty in 2012 and Illinois, New Jersey, New Mexico, and New York have also done so in recent years. According to the Death Penalty Information Center, some 17 states are considering legislation to repeal the death penalty this year.

To read more, click here.


NACDL Comments on Proposed Amendments to U.S. Sentencing Guidelines

On March 19, NACDL submitted in-depth, comprehensive comments to the United States Sentencing Commission’s on its proposed 2013 amendments to the Sentencing Guidelines. In these thoroughly researched and well-presented comments, a number of important topics were addressed by NACDL’s White Collar Crime Committee and staff and NACDL’s Sentencing Committee, including (i) theft of pre-retail medical products, (ii) trade secrets and economic espionage, (iii) counterfeit or adulterated drugs and counterfeit military parts, and (iv) the circuit conflict regarding the calculation of tax loss by a sentencing court. NACDL’s comments also addressed an amendment section concerning the conflict in the circuit courts regarding the acceptance of responsibility guideline and another about the Supreme Court’s concurrent sentencing decision in Setser v. U.S. 


Gerald B. Lefcourt, President of the Foundation for Criminal Justice, Recognized with Norman S. Ostrow Award

The New York Council of Defense Lawyers honored Gerald Lefcourt with the 2013 Norman S. Ostrow Award at a special luncheon in his honor at the Grand Hyatt in New York City on March 8, 2013. The Ostrow Award is conferred in memory of an outstanding defense lawyer, Norman S. Ostrow, who was one of the founding members of the New York Council of Defense Lawyers. The Award is presented for outstanding contributions to “the defense of liberty and the preservation of human rights.” Lefcourt is the current president of the Board of Trustees of the Foundation for Criminal Justice and served as NACDL President for the 1997-98 year.

To read more, click here.


Warrant for Content of Electronic Communications

This month, Senators Patrick Leahy (D-VT) and Mike Lee (R-UT) introduced the Electronic Communications Privacy Act Amendments Act, which would require law enforcement to obtain a warrant before they can access the content of electronic communications like e-mail. NACDL supports this legislation. Last year, the Senate Judiciary Committee overwhelming passed the warrant for content requirement after much support from the civil liberties and privacy community. Additionally, in a letter organized by NACDL, over thirty former prosecutors and judges came together in support of the bill, dispelling overbroad concerns by law enforcement.

To read more, click here.



In February, Congressmen Mike Rogers (R-MI) and C.A. Dutch Ruppersberger (D-MD) reintroduced the Cyber Information Sharing and Protection Act (CISPA). This bill is virtually the same bill that was passed by the House of Representatives last year under a veto threat from the Obama administration due to serious privacy concerns related to the bill’s information sharing provisions. NACDL is working hard to oppose CISPA, joining a coalition of dozens of civil liberties and privacy groups to push back on the bill and protect our Fourth Amendment rights in the digital age.

NACDL's advocacy letter to the House is available here, and NACDL's letter to the President calling for a veto threat is here.  


Nation’s Criminal Defense Bar Applauds Bipartisan Reform Legislation on Mandatory Minimum Sentencing

On March 20, Senators Patrick Leahy (D-VT) and Rand Paul (R-KY) introduced the Justice Safety Valve Act of 2013. If enacted, this legislation would restore essential judicial discretion to permit a sentence below harsh and inflexible statutory minimums based upon the court’s assessment of the particular facts and circumstances of the case and the offender. The expanded safety valve would apply to all federal offenders facing mandatory minimum sentences for any crime. Its purpose would be to prevent the kind of unjust and irrational criminal punishments the nation has witnessed under the ever-expanding mandatory minimum sentencing regime of the last few decades. With some 26% of the Department of Justice 2013 budget request (according to the DOJ’s Inspector General) being consumed by the escalating federal prison budget, which includes an estimated annual cost of about $28,000 for each prisoner housed in the BOP’s overcrowded facilities, this legislation makes good fiscal sense as well.

To read more, click here.


NACDL and Georgetown Law Center Hosted “Reducing Corporate Criminality” Symposium

On March 15, NACDL and the Georgetown Law Center’s American Criminal Law Review hosted a symposium entitled “Reducing Corporate Criminality.” The event focused on options for reform in the prosecution of business organizations. In a series of panels, leading lawyers, professors, and other stakeholders discussed issues ranging from how the nation arrived at today’s environment of aggressive prosecution to how such policies are affecting businesses and organizations. Several NACDL members and leaders, including Ellen C. Brotman, Ross Garber, Professor Ellen S. Podgor, Barry J. Pollack, and Irwin H. Schwartz served as panelists at the event. Former Deputy U.S. Attorney General Mark Filip and current Chair of the ABA’s Criminal Justice Section William Shepard also spoke. The keynote speaker, who was introduced by NACDL Executive Director Norman Reimer, was Daniel E. Troy, General Counsel of GlaxoSmithKline.

To view the webcast of the symposium, click here.


Drone Privacy Law Supported by NACDL

This month, Congressman Markey (D-MA) introduced the Drone Aircraft Privacy and Transparency Act of 2013. The bill will require privacy protection provisions relating to data collection and minimization, disclosure, warrant requirements for law enforcement, and enforcement measures in the licensing and operation of drones. NACDL supports Congressman Markey’s efforts as his bill incorporates key provisions from NACDL’s model drone legislation


SAVE The DATE: 12th Annual State Criminal Justice Network Conference

NACDL's 12th Annual State Criminal Justice Network Conference will be held in San Francisco, California, at The Westin St. Francis hotel from July 25-26, 2013. Topics will include:

  • Race In The Criminal Justice System
  • Social Media 101
  • Indigent Defense
  • 4th Amendment
  • Juvenile Justice
  • Special presentation of the 2013 Champion of State Criminal Justice Reform Award

For more information, click here.


Launch of NACDLConnect

NACDL is delighted to announce the launch of a new platform for community discussion groups. The current listserve does not provide the capacity to meet NACDL's growing needs for member-to-member communications. Members can still get plain-text emails if they wish, but most members will choose to interact with the enriched functionality and graphics through the community website. 

Members will be able to edit their profiles through the application, including uploading a photograph, which will enable members to get to know each other better. Members can get a single email each day with a list of message threads and a link that will take them directly to the site. Members will be able to browse groups they are interested in, and focus on particular threads that are most relevant to their work. 

With NACDLConnect, members can read what they want to learn, and respond where they have expertise to share. 

Even more than the listserves, NACDLConnect will provide opportunities to interact with other members, share knowledge and strategize together for the benefit of clients and the criminal defense profession. 


NACDL's State Legislative Affairs Committee Invites Nominations for the 2013 CHAMPION OF STATE CRIMINAL JUSTICE REFORM AWARD

The NACDL Champion of State Criminal Justice Reform Award recognizes an individual or group whose exceptional efforts have led to positive changes to reform a state criminal justice system. The award will be presented on Thursday, July 25, 2013, at the State Criminal Justice Network Conference in San Francisco, CA. The guidelines on how to nominate someone are available here. Applications are due by Friday, May 31, 2013.


NACDL Elections

The 2013 NACDL election is underway. NACDL’s Nominating Committee has announced its nominees for Director and Officer positions. Any qualified member of NACDL who intends to seek nomination by petition or nominate another member by petition must submit his or her petition by 5:00 pm Eastern Time on Monday, April 1. For more information regarding the 2013 NACDL election, see www.nacdl.org/elections.


In Other News

NACDL Password Update – Important
To read more about NACDL's password update, click here.

Review a Book for The Champion Magazine
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