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SCJN Newsletter

March 7, 2013; Vol. 1 No. 2

SAVE The DATE: 12th Annual State Criminal Justice Network Conference

NACDL's 12th Annual State Criminal Justice Network Conference will be held in San Francisco, California, at The Westin St. Francis hotel from July 25-26, 2013. Topics will include:

  • Race In The Criminal Justice System
  • Social Media 101
  • Drug Law Reform
  • Wrongful Convictions
  • 4th Amendment
  • The Legacy of Gideon 50 years Later
  • Juvenile Justice
  • Special presentation of the 2013 Champion of State Criminal Justice Reform Award

For more information, click here.

NACDL's State Legislative Affairs Committee Invites Nominations for the 2013 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 to positive changes to reform a state criminal justice system. The award will be presented on Thursday, July 25, 2013, at the State Criminal Justice Network Conference. See guidelines on nominating someone here: http://www.nacdl.org/Advocacy.aspx?id=21870&libID=21840.
SCJN National Advocacy Calls on Developing Legislation

SCJN National Advocacy Calls on Developing Legislation hosted a call in February that focused on medical and personal use marijuana.

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March’s advocacy call is scheduled for Wednesday, March 20, at 12:00 p.m. EST. The call will focus on unmanned aircraft commonly known as drones, and feature a discussion of pending legislation across the country. The panel will discuss jurisdictions that have sought licenses for using the aircraft and legislation pending in several states. A “Drones 101 Primer” will be provided prior to the call.

The teleconferences generally feature an expert on an issue area and are designed to brief criminal defense lawyers and advocates around the country on a variety of criminal justice issues. The goal of these calls is to inform participants of any legislation or litigation pending that seeks progressive reform on the issue, and serve as a call to action for advocates interested in developing strategies for legislative reform or litigious efforts in their jurisdictions.

To RSVP, email scjn@nacdl.org.

Event: Gideon at 50 Fundamental Right, Ongoing Challenge

Please join NACDL and The Heritage Foundation for a panel discussion entitled Gideon at 50 Fundamental Right, Ongoing Challenge 

Tuesday, March 12, 2013 at 12:00 p.m. 

The Heritage Foundation's Lehrman Auditorium
214 Massachusetts Avenue, NE
Washington, DC 20002
(202) 546-4400


or call (202) 675-1752


  • Steven D. Benjamin, President, National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers
  • Jim Bethke, Executive Director, Texas Indigent Defense Commission
  • Rhoda Billings, Professor Emeritus, Wake Forest University School of Law, and former Chief Justice, North Carolina Supreme Court

Co-Hosted by: Edwin Meese III, Ronald Reagan Distinguished Fellow in Public Policy Emeritus, The Heritage Foundation &  Norman Reimer, Executive Director, National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers

Fifty years ago, the U.S. Supreme Court decided Gideon v. Wainwright and forever changed America's criminal justice system. No longer was the Sixth Amendment right to counsel available only to those with the means to afford it; it was there for everyone charged with a felony. Since then, the right has been extended to include many misdemeanors and juvenile delinquency proceedings. But half a century later, fulfilling the promise of Gideon remains a continuing challenge. Join us as our distinguished panel of experts reflects on the continuing challenge of how to ensure access to this fundamental right and highlights promising state innovations.

All events may be viewed live at heritage.org 

Notables News

This section features news of interest to the criminal defense community in which NACDL has a particular concern. 

The work of NACDL, The Champion Magazine and the State Legislative Affairs Network is referenced in a book entitled Failed Evidence: Why Law Enforcement Resists Science by David Harris. The reference describes the SCJN and acknowledges all the hard work done by our Network members. In his book, Professor Harris examines why law enforcement rejects scientific based processes, and lays out a plan to encourage law enforcement agencies to utilize these processes. The book helps explain how law enforcement does its job, as well as, ways in which policy makers and the advocacy community can work with law enforcement to ensure that public safety concerns are being met and justice is administered fairly using the best science available.

To see the excerpt from the book go to Amazon and use the “search inside this book” function and put in NACDL. In addition, a review of Failed Evidence will appear in an upcoming issue ofThe Champion. 

NACDL Board Member Marvin Schechter cited in Slate article
Crime Labs Botch Tests All the Time. Who's Supposed To Make Sure They Don't Screw Up? ("In a 2011 memo to the New York State Commission on Forensic Science, an attorney and commission member named Marvin E. Schechter criticized ASCLD/LAB, noting 'a culture of tolerance for errors stemming from a highly forgiving corrections system, some times of major and/or lesser magnitudes, but many of which either violate ASCLD/LAB's ethics guidelines and/or standards. Laboratory inspections are always on notice to a laboratory rather than by surprise, and instead of inspectors picking the case files for review, this is done by lab technicians.' Schechter was a member of the National Academy of Sciences committee that produced the 2009 report 'Strengthening Forensic Science in the United States,' which also criticized the lack of strong national standards for laboratory management and administration.")
Books & Reports

Comprehensive Text on Collateral Consequences Released 

The National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers' NACDL Press and Thomson Reuters Westlaw announced last week the release of the second book of their joint publishing venture,Collateral Consequences of Criminal Convictions: Law, Policy and Practice by Margaret Colgate Love, Jenny Roberts, and Cecelia Klingele. This volume is a comprehensive resource for practicing civil and criminal lawyers, judges and policymakers on the legal restrictions and penalties that result from a criminal conviction over and above the court-imposed sentence.

To read more, click here. The text is available for purchase here. A link to a short video about the text featuring the authors is available here.

Report on State Sentencing 2012 

The Sentencing Project has released The State of Sentencing 2012 Developments in Policy and Practice. The report can be found here: http://sentencingproject.org/doc/

Movie screening

Last year, segments of GIDEON'S ARMY an upcoming HBO film were screened at the State Criminal Justice Network Conference. Film Director, Dawn Porter participated in a question and answer segment afterward. Learn More 

In Other News

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