NACDL - News Release ~ 01/15/2019b

News Release

Civil Rights Corps and the San Francisco Public Defender’s Office Receive Champion of Public Defense Award from Nation's Criminal Defense Bar

Washington, DC (Jan. 15, 2019) – On Friday, January 11, 2019, the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers (NACDL) presented the Civil Rights Corps and the San Francisco Public Defender’s Office, as co-recipients, with NACDL’s Champion of Public Defense Award at NACDL’s Race Matters II conference in Los Angeles, California. Awarded by NACDL’s Public Defense Committee, the Champion of Public Defense Award recognizes an individual or organization for exceptional efforts in making positive changes to a local, county, state, or national public defense system.

These organizations are being honored for their joint efforts challenging pretrial release practices in the state of California. Over the course of the past three years, the two organizations have pursued an innovative, multi-case, multi-pronged approach, culminating in their work in In Re: Kenneth Humphrey. Filed in 2017, the case challenges the constitutionality of existing California bail practices, including the use of bail schedules, because they fail to consider the individual financial circumstances of the accused.

“Finally, bail reform has become a central focus and concern within the criminal justice system, due in no small measure to the dedicated effort that has been spearheaded by both the San Francisco Public Defender’s Office and the Civil Rights Corps,” said Nan Whitfield, Vice Chair of NACDL’s Public Defense Committee, who presented the award. “The bail reform movement has led to monumental and groundbreaking decisions that have set in motion the implementation of changes critical to addressing the issue of pretrial mass incarceration that has plagued the criminal justice system for years. We look forward to unprecedented reform across the nation that will positively impact the rights of all individuals accused of criminal wrongdoing.”

Robert Toale, Chair of NACDL’s Public Defense Committee said: “This award is a testament to the dedication of the Civil Rights Corps and the San Francisco Public Defender’s Office to supporting quality public defense and, specifically, their dedication to establishing a more fair and just pretrial release system. Through tenacious litigation, their work has radically changed the landscape of pretrial release conditions.”

“The important work of the Civil Rights Corps and the San Francisco Public Defender’s Office cannot be overstated,” said NACDL President Drew Findling. “The current money-bail system clearly favors those who can afford it over those who cannot. But what is also evident is the disproportionate impact on people of color. Nearly every study on the racial impact of bail practices has concluded that African-Americans are subjected to pretrial detention at a higher rate and at a higher price than white defendants with similar charges and criminal backgrounds. This award is presented both as a recognition of their tireless work toward ending inequality and for the success they have achieved in reshaping our criminal justice system.”

Civil Rights Corps is a non-profit organization dedicated to challenging systemic injustice in the American legal system. The organization works to challenge mass human caging and to create a legal system that promotes equality and human freedom. Civil Rights Corps engages in advocacy and public education and specializes in innovative, systemic civil rights litigation with the goal of re-sensitizing the legal system and our culture to the injustice and brutality that characterizes the contemporary American criminal system.

For more than 95 years, the San Francisco Public Defender’s Office has protected and defended the rights of their indigent clients through effective, vigorous, compassionate, and creative legal advocacy. Regarded as a national model for the delivery of public defense services, the San Francisco Public Defender’s Office provides superior representation to more than 25,000 people each year.

A high resolution picture of (Left to Right) Jeff Adachi, San Francisco Public Defender; Nan Whitfield, Vice Chair of NACDL’s Public Defense Committee; Chesa Boudin, Deputy Public Defender at the San Francisco Public Defender’s Office; and Katherine Hubbard, Civil Rights Corps Attorney, upon the presentation of NACDL’s Champion of Public Defense Award to the Civil Rights Corps and the San Francisco Public Defender’s Office, is available by clicking the image. Photo credit: © 2019 NACDL | photo by Koichi Take.

Contacts

Ivan Dominguez, NACDL Senior Director of Public Affairs and Communications, (202) 465-7662 or idominguez@nacdl.org

The National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers is the preeminent organization advancing the mission of the criminal defense bar to ensure justice and due process for persons accused of crime or wrongdoing. A professional bar association founded in 1958, NACDL's many thousands of direct members in 28 countries – and 90 state, provincial and local affiliate organizations totaling up to 40,000 attorneys – include private criminal defense lawyers, public defenders, military defense counsel, law professors and judges committed to preserving fairness and promoting a rational and humane criminal justice system.