Washington, DC (May 18, 1998) -- In a decision that could affect hundreds of prisoners across the country, the U.S. Supreme Court today decided that a 1995 case which defined "using or carrying" a firearm in relation to certain crimes may be retroactively applied. Even prisoners who pleaded guilty prior to the 1995 case, Bailey v. United States, should be allowed to show that they are actually innocent of the crime as now defined by the Court, the Chief Justice says in today's decision, Bousley v. United States.
"Although Congress severely restricted a prisoner's access to federal courts when it gutted habeas corpus two years ago, there is still room to argue actual innocence," said Gerald B. Lefcourt, President of the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers (NACDL). "Before Bailey, prosecutors and courts interpreted the firearm statute far too broadly, and hundreds of federal prisoners were convicted by the court or pleaded guilty and are serving mandatory firearms sentences, when in actuality no firearm was used in the offense. What this means for Bousley, and hundreds of others, is that he will get his chance to prove that the conduct that formed the basis of his guilty plea wasn't illegal."
In another decision today, the Court held that the Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act of 1996 (AEDPA) does not bar a death row inmate from re-raising a claim for relief if the prior claim was dismissed on a technicality (Stewart v. Martinez-Villareal). "Since the AEDPA essentially limits prisoners to a single bite of the habeas 'apple,' to hold that dismissal of a habeas corpus petition on technical grounds bars him from properly raising his claim would mean that his claim would likely never be heard, no matter how meritorious," Lefcourt observed. "That could lead to some horrible miscarriages of justice."
Ronald H. Weich and Bonnie Robin-Vergeer, of the Washington, D.C. firm Zuckerman, Spaeder, Goldstein, Taylor and Kolker, authored the joint amici curiae brief in Bousley on behalf of NACDL and Families Against Mandatory Minimums. Edward M. Chikofsky, New York, and Mark E. Olive, of Tallahassee, wrote NACDL's amicus brief in Martinez-Villareal.
A Defender’s Guide to Federal Evidence: A Trial Practice Handbook for Criminal Defense Attorneys
This Guide to Federal Evidence is the only federal evidence handbook written exclusively for criminal defense lawyers. The Guide analyzes each Federal Rule of Evidence and outlines the main evidentiary issues that confront criminal defense lawyers. It also summarizes countless defense favorable cases and provides tips on how to avoid common evidentiary pitfalls. The Guide contains multiple user-friendly flowcharts aimed at helping the criminal defense lawyer tackle evidence problems. A Defender’s Guide to Federal Evidence is an indispensable tool in preparing a case for trial.
Modern Digital Evidence & Technologies in Criminal Cases
Modern cases need modern defenses, and modern lawyers can't practice with an outdated playbook. This program is a contemporary training that identifies emerging technologies and digital evidence encountered in today's criminal cases and arms you with the tools necessary to combat expert witnesses, prosecutorial overreach, and an uneducated judge and jury. This comprehensive CLE program covers both general aspects of new technologies as well as practical courtroom application and legal challenges to the use of these new technologies.
Top Shelf DUI Defenses: The Law, The Science, The Techniques (2021)
If you are serious about being an effective DUI defense advocate, or if you’re considering adding DUI defenses to your portfolio, you need to know the latest scientific and legal strategies to optimize your success at trial. Learn from the best-of-the-best in the field in this unique CLE Program, updated for 2021.
Defending Modern Drug Cases (2021)
From challenging the arrest and seizure to picking a jury and cross-examining police officers, defense attorneys handling drug cases must be able to construct a defense that will increase the chances of the client getting a positive result for your client.
Effective motion practice, juror selection, and storytelling have never been more important. This seminar will introduce defense counsel to techniques that have been used at recent drug trials to rebut specific claims and overcome the emotion created in today’s criminal legal system.
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.