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NACDL E-News

July 25, 2017; Vol. 16 No. 07

Nation's Criminal Defense Bar Applauds Introduction of Bipartisan "Pretrial Integrity and Safety Act of 2017"

On July 20, 2017, Senators Kamala Harris (D-CA) and Rand Paul (R-KY) jointly introduced the "Pretrial Integrity and Safety Act of 2017." This legislation would help bring about more just pretrial release determinations and represents a clear recognition of the vital role of counsel at the pretrial stage. If enacted, it would authorize a $10 million grant to incentivize and encourage states to end the practice of money bail. Principles for obtaining grants under the bill include replacing money bail with individualized, pretrial guidelines that favor release as well as appointment of counsel at the earliest possible stage of pretrial detention, approaches strongly supported by the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers (NACDL). The bill would also encourage states to institute a system of data collection and reporting that includes steps to ensure that risk assessment tools do not result in racial, ethnic, gender, or class disparities.

"NACDL applauds the bipartisan introduction of this important legislation," said NACDL President Barry J. Pollack. "Long-standing NACDL policy supports the right of every person accused of a crime to argue for pretrial release, the right to have counsel to make that argument, and a strong presumption in favor of pretrial release. Our jails should not be filled with people detained before trial. Since every person is innocent until proven guilty, pretrial detention should be the exception, not the rule. Nor should pre-trial release be conditioned on the ability to post money bonds. Conditioning release on the payment of bail results in people being incarcerated solely because they lack financial means. Pretrial detention disproportionately affects poor and minority defendants. It is encouraging that there is bipartisan support for a bill that recognizes the importance of addressing the critical issues raised by unnecessary pretrial detention." 

For more information on NACDL's manuals, trainings, and other work in the area of pretrial release reform, please visit here.

Nation’s Criminal Defense Bar Disappointed in Announcement of Regressive DOJ Policy on Asset Forfeiture

On July 19, 2017, the Department of Justice announced that it is returning to ill-advised forfeiture policies that it had recently abandoned after much public scrutiny. Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced an expansion of law enforcement's ability to seize money and property from people and businesses who are suspected of criminal wrong-doing, but who have not been convicted or even charged with a crime.

The announcement was accompanied by new policy guidance reflecting the Department's acknowledgement that there are serious due process concerns regarding the methods and protocols of the federal government's seizure program. NACDL commends the Department for recognizing that more safeguards are necessary, but believes that systems that rely on self-policing are not adequate protections against a set of practices that have previously resulted in widespread abuses.

NACDL President Barry J. Pollack said: "We should not return to a system that routinely allows the government to take property from people who have not been convicted of any crime, or in some cases even charged with one. Blatant conflicts of interest exist when law enforcement and prosecutorial agencies reap financial benefits from the forfeiture decisions they make. There is broad bipartisan support in both chambers of Congress for curtailing forfeiture abuses. NACDL urges Congress to act to ensure that the Department of Justice does not return to policies that have resulted in so many well-documented abuses in the past."

To learn more about NACDL's extensive work in the area of forfeiture reform, please visit here.

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, D.C. 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. This will take place on the morning of January 16, 2018. 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, 2017. Interested members should contact Lisa Ama Schrade, NACDL's National Affairs Assistant, at (202) 465-7638 or lschrade@nacdl.org, for further instructions.
Join NACDL for the Free Webinar "Challenging Government Hacking in Criminal Cases" on August 9, 1:30pm-3:30pm ET
Recent changes to the Federal Rules of Criminal Procedure have paved the way for the government to hack into people's computers in search of evidence. NACDL will host a free webinar to assist defense lawyers in recognizing and challenging evidence seized by government-hacking. The webinar is on Wednesday, August 9, 1:30pm-3:30pm ET and will feature Colin Fieman, an Assistant Federal Public Defender in Tacoma, WA who effectively challenged government hacking, and Paul Ohm, Georgetown Law professor and former computer scientist who served in the department of Justice's Computer Crime and Intellectual Property Section. It will draw from legal and technological expertise to prepare defense lawyers to challenge hacking as an investigative technique. Register for the webcast and explore the guide published by the American Civil Liberties Union with input from NACDL and the Electronic Frontier Foundation.
NACDL First Amendment Strike Force and Mass Defense Unit Seeks Volunteers

NACDL has a long tradition of fighting to protect constitutional principles and standing up for the individual against the government. In keeping with that tradition, the Foundation for Criminal Justice (FCJ) and NACDL have established a First Amendment Strike Force and Mass Defense Unit. The goal of this project is to provide qualified counsel to represent protesters when the exercise of First Amendment rights results in arrest and prosecution. Specifically, NACDL supports a cadre of criminal defense lawyers who will be available to provide pro bono assistance to protesters throughout the country in the event of mass arrests. For those lawyers who volunteer, NACDL will maintain a database of available counsel and provide training and support at no cost. 

Lawyers wishing to volunteer, please send an email to firstamendment@nacdl.org providing your bar number and indicating the state(s) in which you are admitted and are willing to provide pro bono assistance in the event of arrests related to mass protests. 

Please stay tuned for a formal announcement from NACDL and FCJ of the launch of this initiative, once the infrastructure is in place.

Sign Up to Receive the Daily Criminal Justice Briefing!
The Daily Criminal Justice Briefing compiles the most important criminal justice stories from around the country and the world from major journals and media outlets affecting the criminal defense profession. This exclusive NACDL member benefit is prepared and issued by NACDL's Public Affairs and Communications team six days a week. To sign up, subscribe to the "Daily Criminal Justice Briefing Community" in your NACDLConnect Account.
Legislative Advocacy

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.

State Legislative Tracking 

Click here for a complete listing of all legislation NACDL is currently tracking, sorted by issue area. Under each issue area you can either view legislation in select states or view all legislation. To jump to your particular state of interest, just click on the state on the map.

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.

Legislative Updates

House Passes "Kate's Law," Setting Tougher Sentences for Illegal Reentry 

Last month, the House passed "Kate's Law" (H.R. 3004) with a vote of 257-157. "Kate's Law" would have originally mandated a 5-year mandatory minimum sentence for unlawful reentry by persons with certain prior offenses. However, the version of the bill introduced and passed in the House eliminated the mandatory minimum and substituted it for enhanced maximum sentences. H.R. 3004 is now awaiting action in the Senate.

Federal Action Alerts

Act Now to Stop Congress from Fueling the War on Drugs - House Bill Advances from Judiciary Committee 

NACDL is continuing to see a trend of “tough-on-crime” criminal justice bills and policies, some of which seek to add fuel to the failed War on Drugs. The latest bill following this trend is the "Stop Importation and Trafficking of Synthetic Analogues Act of 2017" or "SITSA."

H.R. 2851/S. 1327 would expand the penalties for drug offenses, add mandatory minimum sentences to the federal code, and give the Attorney General power to decide which drugs should be criminalized and to set criminal penalties. Earlier this month, Attorney General Jeff Sessions pinned an op-ed in the Washington Post to justify his policy directive rolling back the Smart of Crime policy and reinstituting the use of mandatory minimum drug sentences. In July, the House Judiciary Committee advanced H.R. 2851.

Help NACDL push for meaningful criminal justice reforms that will reduce the nation’s prison population, reform sentencing structures, and push back against regressive "tough-on-crime" legislation such as this. Ask your members of Congress to oppose bringing back the War on Drugs!

Act Now to Stop ICE Agents from Making Arrests at Courthouses 

Since the onset of the new administration, there has been an increase in Immigration and Custom Enforcement (ICE) agents making arrests at courthouses and other sensitive locations. These incidences have already occurred in Denver, New York, Los Angeles, and other cities around the country.

Fortunately, legislation has been introduced to curb this practice - the Protecting Sensitive Locations Act (H.R. 1815 and S. 845). These bills would codify limits on immigration enforcement actions at or near sensitive locations and would expand the definition of sensitive location to include any federal, state, or local courthouse, including the office of an individual's legal counsel or representative, and a probation office (among other additional locations).

Act now to support legislation to curb this troubling practice. Ask your members of Congress to support H.R. 1815 and S. 845.

Take Action to Support Expanding Federal Expungement Eligibility  

The Record Expungement Designed to Enhance Employment Act, or the REDEEM Act, H.R. 1906/S. 827, would automatically seal and, in some cases, expunge juvenile records. It would also allow adults convicted of nonviolent crimes to petition a court to have their records sealed.

Help NACDL reduce the collateral consequences of returning citizens by contacting your Member of Congress today and urging them to support the REDEEM Act!

Take Action to "Ban the Box" 

Legislation to "Ban the Box" at the federal level has been reintroduced this Congress. The Fair Chance Act, H.R. 1905/S. 842, would require the federal government and federal contractors to postpone a request for criminal history information from job applicants until the applicant has received a conditional offer of employment.

Help NACDL reduce the barriers to employment for formerly incarcerated people by contacting your Member of Congress today!

Act Now to Prevent the Expansion of the Federal Death Penalty 

Currently pending in Congress is a bill, H.R. 115, that would expand the federal death penalty statute by adding a 17th statutory aggravating factor for the killing or attempted killing of a law enforcement officer, firefighter, or other first responder who dies while engaged in the performance of their official duties or because of their status as a law enforcement officer. The House passed the measure with a vote of 271-143. It is now awaiting action in the Senate.

Contact your Senators today and urge them to oppose H.R. 115!

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In Other News

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