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May 29, 2015; Vol. 14 No. 05

Nation’s Criminal Defense Bar Applauds Nebraska’s Courageous Legislature on its Successful Repeal of the Death Penalty

Last week, the Nebraska legislature overwhelmingly passed legislation to repeal the death penalty in that state in favor of life without parole. While there are 10 people on Nebraska’s death row, no one has been executed since 1997. The vote to repeal was 32 to 15 in Nebraska’s 49-seat unicameral legislature, a veto-proof majority. Nonetheless, both prior to and subsequent to the vote, Nebraska Gov. Pete Ricketts promised to veto the legislation. Tuesday, he made good on that promise. And on Wednesday, the Nebraska legislature voted to override Gov. Ricketts's veto and abolish the death penalty in Nebraska, making it the 19th state (plus the District of Columbia) to do so.

"The death penalty is arbitrary, discriminatory, fallible, irrevocable, costly, and ineffective. Whether taken individually or collectively, these reasons necessitate the elimination of the death penalty. Nebraska now stands at the vanguard of an emerging bipartisan consensus that there is no place for capital punishment in America. Today’s vote is a critical step forward in bringing this woefully defective practice one step closer to being properly and universally eliminated," said National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers (NACDL) President Theodore Simon. "NACDL applauds the profiles in courage in the Nebraska legislature who, under intense pressure from Gov. Ricketts's office not to override his veto, nonetheless followed through and made history today."
Throughout this process, NACDL has been engaged in efforts to bring an end to the death penalty in Nebraska, just as it has in numerous other states. For more information on the death penalty and NACDL’s efforts in this area, please visit  http://www.nacdl.org/criminal-defense/death-penalty/. NACDL’s long-standing position calling for a moratorium on and abolition of the death penalty in the U.S. is recited in this board resolution.


NACDL Says USA Freedom Act Falls "Far Short" of Necessary Reforms

On May 13, the U.S. House of Representatives overwhelmingly passed the USA Freedom Act, with the support of the White House. As of this date, the measure has not been adopted by the U.S. Senate and various surveillance provisions of the USA Patriot Act are set to expire at the end of the month.

"The USA Freedom Act has taken some important steps to address some of the massive surveillance and data collection that the U.S. government has undertaken in the name of intelligence gathering, but real reform has to address all surveillance programs and the broader context in which they operate. This much celebrated piece of legislation falls far short of the reforms needed to address the extraordinary surveillance programs and sentencing schemes implemented in the immediate aftermath of the attacks on September 11," said National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers President Theodore Simon.

"While everyone has focused on the reforms to the government bulk collection of Americans' telephone data, a program declared unauthorized by the Second Circuit Court of Appeals last week, other troubling measures in this legislation are now one step closer to becoming law. In addition, there are no measures in this legislation to address the use by law enforcement in a wide array of domestic prosecutions of these vast pools of information the government has collected on a more relaxed standard than the Fourth Amendment requires. And there is nothing in there about giving notice to the accused in domestic prosecutions of the actual source of the evidence being used against them, no less to provide the accused with access to potentially exculpatory information in those databases, all in violation of the Constitution."

Among other provisions, the USA Freedom Act extends through 2019 the Patriot Act's extraordinary "roving wiretaps" and "lone wolf" surveillance programs, while increasing the maximum sentence to 20 years for violating the vague "material support" statute, a law so broad that it can ensnare even those who for humanitarian reasons interact with a U.S. government-designated terror group for the purposes of aiding civilians within that group's territorial control or criminalize pure speech.


NACDL Past President Larry Pozner Receives the Colorado Criminal Defense Bar’s Highest Honor

On May 15, NACDL Past President Larry Pozner received the Jonathan Olom from the Colorado Criminal Defense Bar (CCDB). This award recognizes Larry for “the remarkable personal sacrifice made without regards to personal gain in the defense of the accused.” Since 1985, this award has been given annually to an extraordinary criminal defense lawyer in recognition of contributions made to the Colorado criminal defense community over the course of their career. Larry served as President of the NACDL (1998-1999) and President of the CCDB (1985-86). Larry is a founding member of Reilly Pozner LLP, a nationally recognized litigation firm in Denver, Colorado. Larry supplements his trial practice with publishing, television and radio legal commentary, and lecturing on trial practice. He is co-author with Roger Dodd of America’s bestselling book on cross examination, Cross Examination: Science and Techniques (Lexis).


NACDL Election Announcement

NACDL's 2015 regular election is 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. Information on the candidates nominated by the Nominating Committee, as well as information on running by petition, is available at www.nacdl.org/elections.


Register Now for the 14th Annual State Criminal Justice Network Conference

The 14th Annual State Criminal Justice Network Conference Building Consensus: Shifting Public Discourse and Policy on Criminal Justice Issues takes place Friday, July 24, 2015-Saturday, July 25, 2015 in Denver, Colorado. Please register online or download registration PDF here. Early Bird registration ends July 19. In addition, Opportunity Agenda will conduct a media/messaging training on Thursday, July 24, 2015 in Denver. The training is free to registrants of the SCJN Conference, but space is limited. To pre-register please send a message to advocacynetwork@nacdl.org.


NACDL State Criminal Justice Network Seeks Nominations for the 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 toward progressive reform of a state criminal justice system. Please click here to download criteria for 2015 award. Nominations are due June 19.


Employment Opportunities at NACDL and Clemency Project 2014

NACDL is currently accepting applications for the position of White Collar Crime Policy Counsel. More information is available here.

Clemency Project 2014 is currently accepting applications for a Clemency Project Assistant and a Clemency Project Staff Attorney. More information about each is available here and here, respectively.


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