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NACDL E-News

October 30, 2015; Vol. 14 No. 10

Application Deadline Approaching for Group Admission to the Bar of the U.S. Supreme Court

NACDL is once again pleased to sponsor an opportunity for up to 12 members to participate in a group admission ceremony to the Bar of the U.S. Supreme Court in Washington, DC.

Participation in this ceremony, in which admittees are administered the oath of admission by the Chief Justice of the United States in the well of the Supreme Court, will be available to the first 12 qualified members on a first-come, first-served basis and will take place on the morning of January 19, 2016. Members will be responsible for their own travel arrangements, must be in good standing with a state bar for a minimum of three years, and must submit their completed application materials to NACDL by November 13, 2015.

Interested members should contact Lisa Ama Schrade, NACDL’s National Affairs Assistant, at (202) 465-7638 or lschrade@nacdl.org, for further instructions.

Sentencing Reform Legislation Advances to Senate Floor

The Sentencing Reform and Corrections Act (S. 2123) is moving rapidly in the Senate with its advancement in the Senate Judiciary Committee on October 22 by a 15-5 vote. This bipartisan legislation would reduce certain mandatory minimum sentences, expand opportunities to avoid mandatory minimums, and make the 2010 crack sentencing reductions retroactive, while at the same time creating two new mandatory minimum sentences and expanding application of others. The bill also includes provisions relating to reentry, compassionate release, and juvenile justice. The Senate Judiciary Committee held a hearing on October 19th where it heard testimony from nine witnesses, including Deputy Attorney General Yates, and representatives from the NAACP, Prison Fellowship Ministries, The Sentencing Project, the National Association of Assistant United States Attorneys, the Manhattan Institute, and a formally incarcerated individual. The legislation now moves to the Senate floor. A narrower House version (H.R. 3713) was introduced October 8 by several Judiciary Committee leaders and members.

Read more here.

Lower Court Dismisses Lawsuit to Stop Mass Government Surveillance

On Friday, October 23 a federal district court in Maryland granted a motion by the government to dismiss Wikimedia, et al. v. NSA, a lawsuit brought by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) on behalf of several organizations, including the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers. The lawsuit challenges the National Security Agency's (NSA) mass interception and searching of Americans' international Internet communications. The court held that the group of plaintiffs had not made plausible allegations that their communications were, in fact, being monitored by the NSA.

The core issue at hand is the NSA's "upstream" surveillance, which involves tapping into the Internet backbone—the physical infrastructure of high-capacity cables, switches, and routers that carries Americans citizens' online communications with their family, friends, and colleagues, and with the rest of the world. In the course of its surveillance, the NSA intercepts vast amounts of Internet data traffic inside the U.S. with the help of major telecom companies. It then copies and searches this traffic for key terms, called "selectors," that correspond with its many targets.

The ruling cites the Supreme Court's opinion in a prior ACLU suit, Clapper v. Amnesty International USA, which challenged the NSA's warrantless wiretapping program. In that case, the Supreme Court held that the plaintiffs lacked standing to challenge surveillance because they could not prove that they communicated with government targets. But Clapper was decided before Edward Snowden and the government revealed extensive information about upstream surveillance. As NACDL argued before the district court here, this new information changes the standing analysis. Since Clapper, the public is learning that the NSA is actively surveilling nearly everyone—not just the targets—to gain information about its targets. NACDL plans to appeal the court's ruling.

Hon. John Gleeson Receives Defense Bar's Judicial Recognition Award

On October 22, U.S. District Judge John Gleeson of the Eastern District of New York received the prestigious Judicial Recognition Award from the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers (NACDL) at the Association's 11th Annual White Collar Seminar & Fall Board Meeting at Fordham University School of Law. NACDL presents its Judicial Recognition Award to acknowledge judges who demonstrate a continuing dedication to protecting democratic principles and the fundamental rights of individuals within American society.

Judge Gleeson has been a strong critic of the effect of mandatory minimums on judicial flexibility. In U.S. v. Dossie, for example, he characterized mandatory minimum sentences as "harsh" and "wooden" when they are lengthened or shortened purely by drug quantity. He has also publicly excoriated the "trial penalty," a practice by which prosecutors pile on charges and potential prison time for defendants for the sole purpose of forcing them into plea agreements. Also notably, in U.S. v. Kupa, Judge Gleeson pointed out how prosecutors threatened enhanced sentences with which even they themselves might not agree. He was also instrumental in setting up the Eastern District's first drug court, thereby providing a solid opportunity for people to avoid prison time.

NACDL President E.G. "Gerry" Morris said that "Judge John Gleeson's life work proves that when a judge truly wants to serve the cause of justice – his hands are never tied."

Upon receiving the award this afternoon, Judge Gleeson, expressing gratitude for the recognition and pride in the work for which he was being recognized, said "I am an unabashed, admitted sentencing reformer." And speaking of his time as chair of the Defender Services Committee at the Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts, Judge Gleeson said the time he spent with defenders and panel attorneys across the country was "transformative." He also pointed to the federal indigent defense system as a crown jewel, pointing out that there are "so many respects in which the promise of Gideon has gone unfulfilled," but that "we have a great deal to be proud of in the federal system." Judge Gleeson went on to praise NACDL for its efforts toward the independence and quality of the federal indigent defense system, pointing specifically to NACDL's recent report Federal Indigent Defense 2015: The Independence Imperative and stating that he "hope[s] the committee established by the Judiciary [to study the federal indigent defense system] pays it the attention it deserves." He also applauded NACDL's work in the area of sentencing reform.

Read more here.

Become a Life Member of NACDL

There will never be a better time to become a Life Member of NACDL! You can lock in the current rate with the first of five yearly $1,000 installments, or a one-time payment of $5,000. If you have ever thought of upgrading your membership…2015 is the year to do it. Beginning January 7, 2016, a new Life Membership will cost $6,500.

CALL: The Membership Hotline now to upgrade your membership! (202) 872-4001. 

QUESTIONS: Contact Michael Connor at (202) 465-7654 or mconnor@nacdl.org.

VISIT: http://www.nacdl.org/lifememberupgrade for more information, or to download the Life Membership Form.

NACDL 2016 Election Notice
NACDL's 2016 election will commence in the coming weeks. Individuals interested in running for officer positions or for the board of directors should consult www.nacdl.org/elections. Deadlines and procedures will be posted there by January 1.
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In Other News

Upcoming CLE Events
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Recent Updates to Restoration of Rights Project
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Employment Opportunities
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