News Release

Nation's Criminal Defense Bar Launches Initiative to Educate, Litigate Privacy Challenges in a Digital Age

Support for the NACDL Fourth Amendment Center comes from grants from the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, Foundation for Criminal Justice, and Charles Koch Foundation 

Washington, DC (Apr. 24, 2018) – Today, the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers (NACDL) announces the establishment of the NACDL Fourth Amendment Center, a project made possible by support from the Charles Koch Foundation, the Foundation for Criminal Justice (FCJ), and the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation.

Society has entered the digital age, and new surveillance technologies and programs – from GPS tracking devices to automated license plate readers to bulk data collection – pose once unimaginable challenges to personal privacy and have upended traditional law enforcement practices. Safeguarding the fundamental values embraced by the Fourth Amendment's guarantee to protect the individual from government searches and seizures has created new challenges for defense lawyers. The Fourth Amendment Center will build on NACDL's steadfast commitment to these principles and create a resource nexus to build a robust legal infrastructure necessary to identify key cases that can challenge outdated legal doctrine and create a new, more durable one for the digital age.

NACDL's Fourth Amendment Center will lay the groundwork for this infrastructure by providing three core resources for criminal defense lawyers and their clients, specifically:

  • advanced education on emerging issues at the intersection of technology, privacy, and constitutional rights;
  • a dynamic toolkit of resources to help lawyers identify opportunities to challenge government surveillance; and
  • a tactical litigation support network to assist in cases that present an opportunity to challenge the use of new technologies that infringe on the Fourth Amendment rights of citizens.

"The limitation on the state's power to search, seize, snoop, and surveil is inevitably defined in the context of criminal prosecutions," said NACDL and FCJ Executive Director Norman L. Reimer. "Those are the cases in which the uses of modern technologies will be pushed to the outer limit and beyond, and that is where the courts must establish the boundaries that ensure the survival of the Fourth Amendment in the modern age. But to do so, it will be up to a robust, fully-informed criminal defense bar to identify and effectively challenge government abuse. The NACDL Fourth Amendment Center will be an essential resource in that effort."

NACDL recognizes the critical need to equip defense lawyers with the tools and technical assistance essential to ensuring that Fourth Amendment case law evolves in tandem to keep pace with emerging technologies. Toward that end, the NACDL Fourth Amendment Center senior litigation counsel will focus on core legal issues, including the third-party doctrine, parallel construction, government hacking, and police technologies. This support network will provide the technical and legal expertise to criminal defense attorneys who have cases that raise cutting edge privacy issues to ensure that they are thoroughly, effectively, and strategically litigated.

"With the establishment of the NACDL Fourth Amendment Center, NACDL is answering a critical call to further ramp up its advocacy efforts in this rapidly developing area of the law," said NACDL's Fourth Amendment Advocacy Committee Chair and NACDL Past President E.G. "Gerry" Morris. "The highly-talented professional staff and significant resources that are being directed toward this initiative, together with the insight and courtroom experience of NACDL members and leaders, promise to deliver a Fourth Amendment Center whose impact – through top-notch education, resources, and litigation – will be felt for generations to come."

NACDL's establishment of the Fourth Amendment Center represents the pinnacle of a long history of dedicated advocacy focused on Fourth Amendment rights. NACDL provides extensive, high quality continuing legal education and trainings in connection with Fourth Amendment advocacy. Among those was a training for public defense providers in Delaware that garnered media attention for bringing insight and resources enabling Delaware defenders to raise questions about and mount challenges to the use of Stingray surveillance technology in that state. NACDL's litany of work in this area also includes groundbreaking reports and papers:  

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  • The Fourth Amendment in the Digital Age NACDL Symposium, a report on a day-long symposium organized by NACDL, the Foundation for Criminal Justice, the American University Washington College of Law, and the Criminal Law Practitioner and broadcast in its entirety on C-SPAN (links to which videos are available here);

In addition, NACDL has a well-known and highly-acclaimed amicus program and has filed as amicus curiae, or a friend-of-the-court, in countless Fourth Amendment-related cases in the U.S. Supreme Court and federal and state courts across the nation. And recently, NACDL convened a Predictive Policing Task Force to study the implementation of emerging predictive policing technologies.

The establishment of the Fourth Amendment Center will help facilitate the integration and amplification of NACDL's Fourth Amendment work, which is essential to the preservation of fundamental constitutional principles.

The NACDL Fourth Amendment Center will be staffed by Director Jumana Musa, Senior Litigation Counsel Michael Price, and Fourth Amendment Center Education and Research Associate Kian Vesteinsson. Michael Price returns to NACDL on April 30, 2018, after several years of service at the Brennan Center for Justice at New York University Law School as both counsel and senior counsel of the Brennan Center's Liberty & National Security Program.

"The digital age gives rise to pressing questions about privacy from unwarranted government surveillance. NACDL is uniquely positioned to enhance the legal community's understanding of these complex issues through education and litigation support," said Jesse Blumenthal, who leads the Charles Koch Institute technology and innovation policy work. "We're proud to join the MacArthur Foundation and the Foundation for Criminal Justice in supporting NACDL's new Fourth Amendment Center."

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To learn more about NACDL's extensive work in the Fourth Amendment arena, visit

Save the Date 

On November 29 & 30, 2018, NACDL, in partnership with the Berkeley Center for Law and Technology, will be hosting a day and a half long CLE focused solely on Fourth Amendment issues as they relate to surveillance tools and programs. Issues covered will include government hacking, location tracking, and biometric tracking. For more information, contact Jumana Musa at The event will be held at Berkeley.

About the Charles Koch Foundation 

For more than five decades, Charles Koch's philanthropy has inspired bold new ideas to help people improve their lives. Inspired by a recognition that free people are capable of extraordinary things, the Charles Koch Foundation supports research, educational programs, and dialogue to advance an understanding of how people can best live together in peace and prosperity and challenge convention. The Charles Koch Foundation provides grants to support a wide range of inquiry including criminal justice and policing reform, free speech and open inquiry, foreign policy, economic opportunity, and innovation. To learn more visit 

About the Foundation for Criminal Justice 

The mission of the Foundation for Criminal Justice is to preserve and promote the core values of America's justice system guaranteed by the Constitution – among them due process, freedom from unreasonable search and seizure, fair sentencing and assistance of effective counsel – by educating the public and the legal profession to the role of these rights and values in a free society. The Foundation supports the work of the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers toward these ends. 

About the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation 

The John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation supports creative people, effective institutions, and influential networks building a more just, verdant, and peaceful world. MacArthur is placing a few big bets that truly significant progress is possible on some of the world's most pressing social challenges, including over-incarceration, global climate change, nuclear risk, and significantly increasing financial capital for the social sector. In addition to the MacArthur Fellows Program, the Foundation continues its historic commitments to the role of journalism in a responsible and responsive democracy, as well as the strength and vitality of our headquarters city, Chicago. 


Ivan Dominguez, NACDL Director of Public Affairs and Communications, (202) 465-7662 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.