News Release

NACDL opposes use of "secret evidence" Immigration detainees should get fair look at evidence against them

Washington, DC (March 28, 2001) -- U.S. House Minority Whip David Bonior (D-MI) will re-introduce the Secret Evidence Repeal Act on Wednesday, March 28, to end the practice of using undisclosed evidence to detain and deport immigrants. National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers Past President Neal Sonnett issued the following statement:

"Use of secret evidence would be unconstitutional in a criminal case, and it is un-American in any case, particularly when the U.S. has criticized other governments for conducting ''star chamber'' proceedings where defendants are denied the opportunity to review and rebut the evidence.

"The right to confrontation is one of the most precious principles of due process. This legislation will remove a stain on the Constitution while providing appropriate safeguards in extraordinary cases where there are legitimate national security concerns. It deserves prompt passage by Congress."

Sonnett, in addition to being an NACDL past president, is also past chair of the American Bar Association Criminal Justice Section. He is currently chair of the ABA Coordinating Committee on Immigration Law. He can be reached at (305) 358-2000.

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NACDL Communications Department

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.