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January 30, 2015; Vol. 14 No. 01

NACDL Supports Bicameral Introduction of Forfeiture Reform Legislation in Congress

On January 27, Rep. Tim Walberg (R-MI) and Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) introduced the "Fifth Amendment Integrity Restoration (FAIR) Act of 2015" in both the House and the Senate, respectively. NACDL supports this legislation as it would bring much-needed improvements to federal civil asset forfeiture laws. NACDL President Theodore Simon explained the need for immediate action in letter to all Members of Congress, "Under current law, the government can confiscate money and property of individuals and businesses without convicting, or even charging, that person or entity with committing a crime." To learn more about NACDL's work in the area of forfeiture reform, visit www.nacdl.org/forfeiture.


NACDL Applauds Adoption of House Rule Providing for Judiciary Committee Review of All Criminalization Legislation

On January 6, the U.S. House of Representatives adopted a rules change that will afford the House Judiciary Committee the opportunity to exercise its jurisdiction over any bill that proposes or modifies a new or existing criminal law or penalty. NACDL has long advocated for precisely this kind of reform in its efforts to combat overcriminalization and the overfederalization of crime. In advance of the rules change, NACDL sent  a joint letter endorsing its adoption.

This change was one of several that NACDL called for in its groundbreaking 2010 report – Without Intent: How Congress is Eroding the Criminal Intent Requirement in Federal Law, issued jointly with Heritage. And at the final hearing of the House Committee on the Judiciary's Overcriminalization Task Force on July 25, 2014, NACDL Past President Steven D. Benjamin reinforced this point in his testimony on behalf of NACDL.

For more information about NACDL's work on overcriminalization, visit www.nacdl.org/overcrim.


Detention of Public Defender 'Unconscionable;' NACDL Stands With San Francisco Public Defenders

On Tuesday, it appears in this video that San Francisco Deputy Public Defender Jami Tillotson was arrested and detained, in the courthouse and in front of her client, for doing her job. It has been reported that the police allege she was resisting arrest. Of course, the Sixth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution provides her client, in fact all accused persons, with the right to counsel. Intimidating, and indeed arresting, any attorney for discharging their Constitutional duty to their client is incompatible with that right. NACDL supports Ms. Tillotson, the entire San Francisco Public Defender Office headed by Jeff Adachi, and public defenders everywhere who under the most challenging of circumstances each day work to zealously represent their clients.

NACDL President Theodore Simon said: "The handcuffing and detention of defender Jami Tillotson was unconscionable and should never have happened. The right to counsel is a core Constitutional value that we cherish in this country. It is my fervent hope that whatever steps need to be taken to ensure this kind of police action does not repeat itself are promptly taken. And moreover, I would like to believe that the situation will be rectified on principled grounds and not just because of the cell phone video of this shameful conduct having gone viral around the globe."


DOJ Persuades Federal District Court to Keep Its Federal Criminal Discovery Blue Book From Being Disclosed to the American Public; NACDL to Appeal Decision

On December 18, Judge Colleen Kollar-Kotelly in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia issued a decision in National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers v. Executive Office for United States Attorneys et al. The Court upheld the U.S. Department of Justice's (DOJ) denial of NACDL's Freedom of Information Act request that DOJ release to the public its Federal Criminal Discovery Blue Book, finding that the Blue Book is attorney work product that was prepared to protect DOJ from litigation and therefore it is protected from disclosure. Contrary to what DOJ told Congress, the ruling and DOJ pleadings suggest that the Federal Criminal Discovery Blue Book contains strategies for avoiding discovery. NACDL plans to appeal this decision granting Defendants' motion for summary judgment, and denying Plaintiff’s cross-motion for summary judgment.


Congress Violated the Equal Protection Clause and Exacerbated Racial Disparity When it Reaffirmed the Federal Sentencing Disparity for Powder to Crack Cocaine, NACDL Tells Federal Appeals Court

In an amicus curiae brief filed on December 18, 2014 in Davis v. United States Sentencing Commission, an appeal of a dismissal of a petition for writ of mandamus now pending in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit, NACDL demonstrates that Congress's 1995 reaffirmation of the 100:1 federal sentencing ratio for powder to crack cocaine violated the Equal Protection Clause of the U.S. Constitution.

As recited in the brief, in the years following the enactment of the 100:1 ratio in the Anti-Drug Abuse Act of 1986, "research consistently showed that the 100:1 ratio had a disproportionate impact on African Americans." NACDL President Theodore Simon said: "If we really want to deal with racial disparity in America’s criminal justice system, then we must address sentencing laws that significantly contribute to it."

Miller & Chevalier Member Timothy P. O’Toole authored NACDL’s amicus curiae brief in Davis.  


Clemency Project 2014: A Historically Unprecedented and Wholly Independent Volunteer Effort By the Nation's Bar

Clemency Project 2014 is a working group composed of lawyers and advocates including the Federal Defenders, the American Civil Liberties UnionFamilies Against Mandatory Minimums, the American Bar Association, and the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers, as well as individuals active within those organizations. It launched in January 2014, after Deputy U.S. Attorney General James Cole called on the legal profession to provide pro bono assistance to federal prisoners who would likely have received a shorter sentence if they had been sentenced today.

In less than a year, Clemency Project 2014 has organized an army of volunteer lawyers who are diligently working on behalf of thousands of prisoners who have requested free legal assistance in drafting and submitting clemency petitions. Since its conception, Clemency Project 2014 has created a training and case management infrastructure to prepare and support the diverse set of lawyers now engaged in the project.

Please join this historic opportunity to reverse the unduly harsh prison sentences that were imposed upon so many. To volunteer, please visit www.clemencyproject2014.org.


Free Training for Lawyers Handling Post-Conviction Innocence Claims

Please join NACDL on April 30, in Orlando, Florida for Science, Cell Phones and Social Media – Finding & Using Evidence of Innocence in Post-Conviction Cases. NACDL, in collaboration with the Innocence Network, presents this exciting new training, specifically for lawyers who handle post-conviction innocence cases. It begins with statistics for lawyers – a necessary foundation to challenge unreliable forensics. Experts will also provide state-of-the-art instruction on topics essential for today's post-conviction litigation: low level DNA mixtures and cell phone tower evidence. In addition, experienced faculty will focus on all aspects of finding and working with experts, including direct and cross examination of experts in post-conviction hearings. The cutting-edge instruction extends to investigation in a session on uncovering evidence of innocence via social media and online sources. This program is free for approved applicants. For more information and to download a registration application, click here.


NACDL Past President and Foundation for Criminal Justice Secretary Bruce M. Lyons to Receive Prestigious Harry Gulkin Award

NACDL Past President Bruce M. Lyons will receive the Broward Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers' (BACDL) Harry Gulkin Award on February 5, 2015. Lyons has been a member of BACDL since its founding. The award will be presented at the BACDL Annual Installation Dinner in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. The Gulkin Award is a significant honor given each year to "a member of the bar who embodies integrity, gentility, and is a lawyer of the highest quality."

NACDL President Theodore Simon said: "I am proud and fortunate to say I have known and worked with Bruce for more than 30 years and share in the widely-held belief that he is the model of a criminal defense lawyer whose commitment to his clients, the Constitution, and the calling that criminal defense work is noble and necessary is unsurpassed."

NACDL Executive Director Norman L. Reimer said: "Consistent with his last name, Bruce is a lion of the profession – a fierce defender of the rights of the accused and a tenacious advocate. The FCJ and NACDL salute him on this splendid and well-deserved award."

For more information about the February 5, 2015 BACDL installation dinner, please see the event page of the Broward Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers. And for more information about the Harry Gulkin Award, including a list of past recipients, please click here.


NACDL Election Announcements

Special Election in February:NACDL’s Board of Directors will conduct a special election at its 2015 Midwinter Meeting to fill one vacant position on the Board of Directors, and to fill the vacant Treasurer position. 

2015 NACDL Election:Meanwhile, NACDL’s 2015 regular election is also underway. In 2015, NACDL will elect 13 members of the Board of Directors, in addition to the President-Elect, First Vice President, Second Vice President, and Secretary positions.

NACDL members interested in learning more should visit www.nacdl.org/elections.


In Other News

Upcoming Committee Meetings
Dates and Times for Upcoming Meetings

Upcoming CLE Events
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Recent Updates to Restoration of Rights Project
View Restoration of Rights Project

Employment Opportunities
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