News Release

Nation's Defense Bar Urges Caution in Wake of New York Indictment of Former President Trump

Washington, DC (March 30, 2023) – The Nation's Defense Bar urges caution in the wake of Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg's indictment of former President Donald J. Trump over a combination of alleged violations of state law regarding the reporting of business records and federal law regarding the reporting of campaign finances.

Nellie L. King, President of the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers (NACDL), stated

"This indictment, which combines alleged violations of state law and federal law on a novel legal theory, is a serious development that deserves our attention. However, there's no reason to rush to judgment, especially since this theory has never been tested in court. 

"History will remember the first time a presidential candidate with a $400 hairdo lied about having an affair before being charged with spending $925,000 to keep it secret. His name was John Edwards, the former Democratic senator from North Carolina. 

"However, a jury acquitted Edwards on the first campaign finance charge and deadlocked on all other counts. And the prosecutor dropped that so-called hush-money case. So don't let the political pundits of any stripe convince you how an indictment may turn out before the facts have been proven beyond a reasonable doubt. That process unfolds not over the primetime airwaves or through hot takes on social media but before a judge and jury.

"To be sure, a New York grand jury has heard the prosecutor's presentation of selected evidence. What they did not hear was the context, clarification, or explanation that a defense attorney might present before a judge and jury. 

"The 2012 acquittal of former North Carolina Senator Edwards on a similar charge over an alleged hush money payment to cover up scandalous sexual secrets suggests that serious questions remain to be answered by a trial judge and by a jury about the possible weakness of this type of case. 

"We must respect the judicial process, including the vital role of defense attorneys who stand up for their clients and for Constitutional rights that protect us all from government overreach, over criminalization, or abuse by over-zealous prosecutors. Equal justice under the law applies to everyone, and while no one is above the law, neither is anyone beneath its protection. 

"Justice should not depend on which group of partisan pundits yells more loudly or slings more tweets or sound bites. We must allow the legal process to unfold fully and let the facts proven in court beyond a reasonable doubt determine the outcome."


Jonathan Hutson, NACDL Senior Director of Public Affairs and Communications, (202) 480-5343 or

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 legal system.

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