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December 28, 2016; Vol. 15 No. 12

NACDL Releases Pretrial Justice Manual for New Jersey Practitioners; Additional States Forthcoming

In partnership with the American Civil Liberties Union of New Jersey (ACLU-NJ) and the New Jersey Office of the Public Defender (NJ OPD), and with grant support from the Bureau of Justice Assistance, on December 13, 2016, NACDL released The New Jersey Pretrial Justice Manual in an effort to support New Jersey attorneys as they work to end pretrial injustice in the state.

"Criminal defense lawyers in New Jersey will have a critical need for guidance as to how best to represent their clients under the new pretrial legal regime set to take effect there on January 1, 2017," explained NACDL President Barry J. Pollack. "It has been long-standing NACDL policy to advocate for a strong presumption of pretrial release and to advocate against conditioning pre-release on the ability to post money bonds, which result in people being incarcerated solely because they lack financial means. Since each person is innocent until proven guilty, pre-trial detention should be the exception, not the rule. This manual will assist lawyers in ensuring that this fundamental principle is implemented in New Jersey when the new law takes effect."

The New Jersey Pretrial Justice Manual is available for download here.

Read more here.

Just in Time for the Holidays, President Obama Announces 153 Commutations; Total Grants Near 1,200

On December 19, 2016, President Obama announced 153 grants of commutation. Of those 153 grants, 82 were in cases supported by Clemency Project 2014. That brings the total number of commutations granted by President Obama to date to 1,176, of which 605 were supported by Clemency Project 2014.

"With fewer than five weeks left in his term, President Obama has once again commuted the unnecessarily extreme sentences of scores of federal prisoners," said Cynthia W. Roseberry, project manager for Clemency Project 2014. "After years of extraordinary work by thousands of volunteer lawyers from across the nation, Clemency Project 2014 could not be more proud to have submitted more than 2,500 worthy petitions for clemency to the administration. This holiday season I look at the extraordinary achievements of Clemency Project 2014, the amazing contributions of thousands of volunteer lawyers as well as the numerous participating organizations, the generosity of the Project's supporters, and the life- and community-changing actions of the President, and I am humbled. There is still one month remaining, and many pending petitions awaiting action, for the President to continue and accelerate this important work. I trust he will do so."

Read more here.

U.S. Court of Appeals for the DC Circuit Denies Rehearing and En Banc Review as DOJ Continues Effort to Keep Its Federal Criminal Discovery Blue Book From Being Disclosed to the American Public; Panel Modifies Opinion and Remands to District Court

On December 20, 2016, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the DC Circuit denied NACDL's petition both for a rehearing and en banc review following the July 19, 2016, decision of a three-judge panel of that court in National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers v. U.S. Department of Justice Executive Office for United States Attorneys and U.S. Department of Justice. The July 19 decision upheld the lower court's and 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. That said, the three-judge panel did modify their July 19 opinion so that an amended opinion now calls for the matter to be remanded to the district court "for an assessment of whether the Blue Book also contains non-exempt policy statements amenable to reasonable segregation" from what the DOJ and the Court have said is privileged attorney work product contained in the Blue Book that is not subject to disclosure.

"As the Supreme Court recognized in Brady v. Maryland, fundamental fairness requires the government to disclose evidence favorable to the accused," said NACDL President Barry J. Pollack. "Despite DOJ's failure to do so in the prosecutions of the late Senator Ted Stevens and in many other cases, DOJ has refused to tell the public what it is doing to prevent a repeat of these failures. NACDL is pleased that today the Court of Appeals did not fully accept DOJ's intransigence and signaled that DOJ ultimately may be ordered to reveal its policy regarding disclosure of evidence in criminal prosecutions. DOJ should not continue to litigate in an effort to hide its policies from the public. The Department should release the Blue Book immediately." 

Read more here.

NACDL Past President John Wesley Hall Receives Prestigious Al Horn Memorial Award from NORML

NACDL Past President John Wesley Hall received the Al Horn Memorial Award from the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML) National Legal Committee on December 10, 2016. He was presented with the award at NORML's annual dinner at the Pier House in Key West, FL. The Al Horn Memorial Award is presented annually to a NORML Legal Committee member in recognition of his or her "lifetime of ceaseless work to advance the cause of justice and for their extraordinary support for NORML."

"John Wesley Hall is one of the nation's top experts in Fourth Amendment law and the legal ethics of criminal law," said NACDL President Barry J. Pollack. "He uses that expertise not only to serve his individual clients, but also to advocate for reforms to improve the criminal justice system to make it fairer for all. The so-called war on drugs has led to mass incarceration and has devastated families and communities. John has long championed common sense reform of our nation's drug laws. It is a great tribute to John that NORML has recognized his work by giving him this prestigious award."

Read more here.

NACDL To Upgrade Membership Management System: A Message from the Membership Department

NACDL will upgrade its membership management system in late January. There will be some changes to the processes of registration for seminars, product purchase, and membership renewal, which we hope will be easier for all our members.

The most important reason we are telling you about this now is to let you know that it will be necessary to reset your password when you start using the new system. This will be a simple process, and you can either re-use the password you are currently using, or create a new one. In addition, if you are currently enrolled in automatic membership renewal, your membership will not be automatically renewed. The reason for both of these is that your information is encrypted for your protection, and cannot be transferred to the new system.

There is no action required now, but please keep an eye open for more news about this. We will send a reminder and instructions closer to the transition date. And of course, Member Services stands always ready to help at 202-872-4001 or by email at memberservices@nacdl.org. Please let us know any time we can be of service.

NACDL's 8th Annual FREE Training for Post-Conviction Lawyers

They Blinded Me with “Science”: Examining the Reliability of Forensic Evidence in Innocence Claims 

March 23, 2017, San Diego, CA   

NACDL, in collaboration with the Innocence Network, presents an essential new training specifically for lawyers who handle post-conviction innocence clams*. National experts will provide cutting edge instruction on topics essential for today's post-conviction litigation, including: examining the PCAST Report and its implications for post-conviction litigation; statistical concepts in forensic science (including those discussed in the PCAST report); complex DNA mixtures (combined probability of inclusion, and probabilistic genotyping software); and overcoming the hurdles to obtaining post-conviction relief in plea cases. Click here for more information.

This event is the day before the 2017 Innocence Network Conference which will be held on March 24-25. Separate registration is required for the Innocence Network's national event, which brings together attorneys, the exonerated, and their families for two days of educational sessions related to innocence work. For information and registration, visit www.innocencenetwork.org/networkconference 

*Pursuant to the grant funding, attendees must work on the screening, review, investigation and/or litigation of potential post-conviction innocence claims and you cannot work on the prosecution of criminal matters. By registering for this training, you certify those facts to be true. If you have any questions about eligibility to attend, please contact Senior Resource Counsel, Vanessa Antoun at vantoun@nacdl.org or (202) 465-7663. 

NACDL 2017 Election Notice
NACDL's 2017 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.
Have you checked out NACDLConnect lately? In addition to the Daily Criminal Justice Briefing, NACDLConnect features three exclusive discussion groups, for members only: a General, a White Collar Crime, and a Young & New Lawyers discussion. NACDL Members use these groups to connect with each other, share knowledge, and strategize together for the good of all. Log in at https://connect.nacdl.org! Get started today at https://connect.nacdl.org/faq1.
Advocacy Resources: What NACDL Can Do for You

Visit NACDL's Take Action webpage for state and federal legislative updates and action alerts. You can find more advocacy information and resources in NACDL's Advocacy Resource Library.

Please contact NACDL's Grassroots Advocacy Manager, Monica L. Reid, at mreid@nacdl.org for any advocacy question or need.

Federal Legislative Tracking
Click here for a complete listing of all federal legislation NACDL is currently tracking. For more information on a specific bill or to learn NACDL’s position, please contact Monica Reid, NACDL's Grassroots Advocacy Manager, at mreid@nacdl.org.
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In Other News

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Recent Updates to Restoration of Rights Project
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