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September 29, 2017; Vol. 16 No. 09

Disaster Relief – Hurricanes Irma, Harvey, and Maria

The disastrous effects of recent hurricanes have been widespread and catastrophic, affecting Texas, Florida, Puerto Rico, the Virgin Islands, and other states and countries located in and near the Caribbean. Currently, in Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands, millions of Americans are facing dire circumstances without electricity, food, and water.

NACDL expresses its deepest concern for those impacted by these devastating storms. There are a number of ways to help those affected by Hurricanes Irma, Harvey, and Maria. To find relief agencies accepting donations, visit NACDL’s disaster relief homepage here.

Additionally, the Texas Criminal Defense Lawyers Association (TCDLA), and its educational unit TCDLEI, have created a relief fund to help fellow criminal defense lawyers affected by Hurricane Harvey. Donations will be used to help attorneys continue their practice and to defray costs of continuing legal education and replacing legal publications and educational materials. Please follow this link to be directed to TCDLA’s donation page.

NACDL Launches Effort to Provide Pro Bono Counsel to Protesters

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, on September 19, 2017, the Foundation for Criminal Justice (FCJ) and NACDL launched the 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.

Here is a link to a short podcast so that you can hear from a handful of the volunteer attorneys who are making this important project possible as they explain why it is that they are offering their time and expertise for this important effort.

To read more about the First Amendment Strike Force and Mass Defense Unit, visit here.

NACDL/FAMM State Clemency Project Seeking Volunteer New York Attorneys

The NACDL\FAMM State Clemency Project is seeking volunteer New York attorneys for critical state clemency work. The project, designed to help recruit, train, and provide resource support to pro bono attorneys who will assist state prisoners in submitting petitions to have their sentences commuted, has begun assigning cases in New York. The project has developed procedures to provide an initial packet of records for each applicant and to facilitate quick access to records and easy communication with applicants.

To learn more and to volunteer, visit here or email Project Manager Steven Logan at slogan@nacdl.org.

NACDL Opposes Private Prisons; Urges Sweeping Reforms in the Absence of a Ban

At its 2017 annual meeting on July 29, 2017, in San Francisco, the Board of Directors of NACDL adopted a statement and resolution opposing prison privatization and urging various critical reforms to the extent incarcerated individuals in the United States continue to be housed in privately-operated prisons and jails. The issue was studied in great depth by NACDL's Corrections Committee, which developed and presented the statement and resolution adopted by NACDL's Board of Directors.

"NACDL's position is clear – the nation's criminal defense bar opposes for-profit incarceration, or private prisons, for numerous, compelling reasons, as provided in the board-adopted statement and resolution," said NACDL President Rick Jones. "Attorney General Jeff Sessions’ reversal of the progress made on the federal level under the previous administration to do away with prison privatization is profoundly disappointing. NACDL strongly urges government at all levels throughout the United States to abandon for-profit incarceration. Human confinement should never be a commercial venture. The already existing overrepresentation of people of color in our prison system is even more dramatic in the private prison setting. To the extent that prison privatization is nonetheless permitted, critical reforms, as outlined by NACDL, must be implemented."

Read more here. The full text of the statement and resolution is available here.

NACDL Strongly Urges American Congressional Leadership to Save 'Dreamers'

On September 5, 2017, the Trump administration rescinded the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, effective in six months. To date, the program has provided legal protection to some 800,000 undocumented individuals brought to the United States as children.

Rick Jones, President of NACDL, issued the following statement: "A fundamental principle of a just society is that reliance upon the law and a governmental promise should never result in a deprivation of rights. Hundreds of thousands of students and workers living in this country, who were brought here as children, often many years ago, voluntarily came out of the shadows in reliance upon a promise that they would not be penalized, much less deported. Instead, with precisely the identifying information provided by these young people in reliance upon that promise, the federal government is now threatening deportation.

"We know, law enforcement knows, and the courts know, that the threat of deportation is counterproductive and drives people back into the shadows. Such betrayal undermines public safety, breeds distrust, and lessens respect for an already delegitimized system of justice.

"As a result of this heartless action by the president, we have profound humanitarian concern for the legal status of so many deserving young people and their families. If DACA is terminated, we can expect that disparate law enforcement practices, including racial profiling and over-policing of historically oppressed communities, will subject even more individuals, who contribute much to society, to stops, searches, seizures, and detention. It is unacceptable in the United States of America that so many who have lived so long in fear are being placed back in jeopardy. NACDL calls on Congress to act swiftly to protect the Dreamers."

Statement by NACDL on the Presidential Pardon of Rogue Former Maricopa County, AZ, Sheriff Joe Arpaio

On August 26, 2017, Rick Jones, President of NACDL, issued the following statement concerning the pardon by the U.S. President of former Maricopa County, AZ, Sheriff Joe Arpaio:

"Reinforcing a tremendous sense of fear and foreboding among large cross-sections of some of the most vulnerable groups living in the United States, President Trump last night pardoned former Sheriff Arpaio, who stands convicted of blatantly disregarding a federal court order preventing the illegal detention of individuals without charge based simply on the suspicion they are undocumented.

"NACDL is very troubled by this use of the executive power to grant mercy, for the very first time by President Trump, before the judicial process is completed, and where there has been no evidence of contrition or acknowledgement of wrongdoing. This pardon reinforces an extremely disturbing pattern of conduct by this President who, through his words and his deeds, has shown disdain for the co-equal Judicial Branch of government as well as the actual and potential victims of constitutional abuse. We are fast spiraling into a moment of constitutional crisis, and those of us who are required to stand behind the Constitution must not remain silent when the power of government is used to perpetuate injustice."

NACDL Special Election Announcement
NACDL's Board of Directors will conduct a special election on October 28, 2017, to fill three vacancies on the board. Those interested in seeking election should consult www.nacdl.org/elections for deadlines, submission requirements, and other relevant information.
Cynthia Roseberry Receives Champion of Justice Award from NACDL

On September 14, 2017, at its Presidential Summit & Seminar "Race Matters: The Impact on Criminal Justice," NACDL presented Cynthia W. Roseberry, who is currently the Executive Director of Council for Court Excellence, with its Champion of Justice Award. Champion of Justice Awards are bestowed upon those individuals who—through legal, legislative, journalistic, or humanitarian pursuits—have staunchly preserved or defended the constitutional rights of American citizens and have endeavored to ensure justice and due process for persons accused of crime.

As the Project Manager of Clemency Project 2014 (CP 2014), Roseberry played a vital role in ensuring the project’s success. Roseberry oversaw the smooth and efficient operation of CP 2014, including managing inmate intake, attorney training and allocation, and resource provision. She assisted in recruiting and training nearly 4,000 volunteer lawyers from diverse backgrounds and completed screenings of the more than 36,000 federal prisoners who requested assistance. Her immense dedication to the project helped CP 2014 submit nearly 2,600 petitions to the Office of the Pardon Attorney. In total, President Obama granted nearly 900 petitions supported by CP 2014.

NACDL President Rick Jones, who presented Roseberry with the award, said: "In the finest tradition of Sojourner Truth, winning battles in the courtroom and Harriet Tubman, leading Black people to freedom, Cynthia Roseberry demonstrates the courage, commitment, and excellence that allow her to, so ably, stand on their shoulders. That is why I am so proud and honored to present her with the NACDL Champion of Justice Award."

To read more, visit here. The past recipients of the Champion of Justice Award can be found here.

NACDL and the Knight First Amendment Institute Seeking Information From Criminal Defense Lawyers Who Have Had Electronic Devices Searched at the Nation’s Borders

In conjunction with the Knight First Amendment Institute at Columbia University, NACDL is seeking information from any members who have had their cellphones or other electronic devices searched by U.S. border patrol officers at the nation's borders while traveling internationally. The Knight Institute is a new non-profit organization that works to defend and strengthen freedoms of speech and the press in the digital age through litigation, research, and education.

The Knight Institute and NACDL are looking into legal issues related to a U.S. regulation that authorizes border patrol officers to search a traveler's cellphones and other electronic devices at the borders without any basis for suspicion. The government enforces this policy against both American citizens as well as non-citizens, and there has been a sharp uptick in these types of searches over the past year. The Knight Institute would like to learn more about people who have been searched and to explore the possibility of filing a substantive legal challenge on their behalf. 

The Knight Institute and NACDL are interested in hearing from anyone who has experienced anything along the lines of the following while traveling into or out of the United States:

  • A border patrol officer (or ICE officer) has asked to examine the contents of your phone, tablet, laptop, or any other electronic device, including asking you to unlock your device and/or provide a password to unlock your device;
  • A border patrol officer (or ICE officer) has examined the contents of your phone or other electronic device, and/or has taken your device outside of your presence for a period of time;
  • A border patrol officer (or ICE officer) has sought to examine your social media postings on your device, including by asking you for social media passwords and/or user names or handles;
  • You have reason to believe that a border patrol officer (or ICE officer) made a copy of the contents of your cell phone or other electronic device; or
  • A border patrol officer (or ICE officer) has kept your cell phone or other electronic device for some period of time and then returned it to you.

NACDL and the Knight Institute are interested in hearing from both citizens as well as non-citizens. Please send an email with a brief description of your experience and your contact information to carrie.decell@knightcolumbia.org. Your information will be kept confidential.

Join the National Advocacy Call on Developing Legislation on October 19, 2:00pm ET

On Thursday, October 19, 2017, at 2:00 pm ET, the National Advocacy Call on Developing Legislation will feature a discussion on the NACDL/FAMM State Clemency Project. The project is collaborating with New York to develop necessary processes and procedures and to provide logistical support enabling pro bono assistance for those seeking clemency. Norman Reimer, Executive Director, NACDL; Mary Price, General Counsel, FAMM; and Alphonso David, Counsel, New York Governor Cuomo, will all be joining the discussion.

To RSVP, please send a message to advocacynetwork@nacdl.org. Dial-in information will be provided prior to the call.

NACDL's National Advocacy Calls on Developing Legislation feature expert(s) on issue areas and are designed to educate criminal defense lawyers and advocates across the country on a variety of criminal justice issues. The calls inform participants of any legislation, litigation, or executive initiative that seek progressive reform on criminal justice issues. Visit here to listen to previous calls.

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.

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.

Federal Action Alerts

House Votes to Keep Restrictions on Civil Asset Forfeiture – Act Now in Support of the FAIR Act! 

Recently, Attorney General Sessions directed federal law enforcement to increase and expand its civil asset forfeiture program, despite strong bipartisan legislative support to limit the program based on due process and fairness concerns. In response, earlier this month, the House of Representatives voted to maintain restrictions on the federal civil asset forfeiture program. Specifically, the House directive reinstates some restrictions that were placed on the program in recognition of due process and fairness concerns. Most notably, reinstated were restrictions on "adoptive seizures" that allow state and local law enforcement to seize assets and then transfer those assets to federal control in evasion of state laws that would otherwise have limited or prohibited the forfeitures. These restrictions have been included in the House appropriations bill, which is tabled until the current Continuing Resolution expires in December.

NACDL is continuing to put pressure on Congress to pass forfeiture reform. Currently pending is the "Fifth Amendment Integrity Restoration Act of 2017" or the "FAIR Act" (H.R. 1555/S.642). The FAIR Act would reform federal civil forfeiture law by giving property owners more protections and reducing the profit incentive to law enforcement agencies. Ask your Members of Congress to pass the FAIR Act.

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 reignite 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 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. In June, Attorney General Jeff Sessions pinned an op-ed in the Washington Post to justify his policy directive rolling back the Smart on 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

Upcoming Committee Meetings
Dates and times will be posted the week of Oct. 2.

Upcoming CLE Events
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Recent Updates to Restoration of Rights Project
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