News Release

Criminal defense bar annual meeting to include Hart address, discussion of ethical issues related to military tribunal rules

Defense lawyers to visit shooting range in Denver 

Washington, DC (July 25, 2003) -- The National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers’ annual meeting July 30-Aug. 2 will include formal action regarding ethical issues surrounding the Bush Administration’s rules governing conduct of trials of “enemy combatants” in military tribunals. The meeting will take place at the Westin Tabor Center in Denver.

In addition, criminal defense lawyers from around the nation who attend the meeting will hear former U.S. Senator Gary Hart (D-CO) address the meeting’s Friday luncheon. They also will have the opportunity to visit a shooting range to gain a better understanding of forensic issues related to ballistics evidence as part of the “21st Century Forensics” seminar at the meeting.

NACDL President Lawrence Goldman has already cautioned members about participating in the tribunals in his column in The Champion, the association’s magazine. Goldman refers to the American criminal defense bar’s long history of “representing the despised,” dating to John Adams’ representation of British soldiers accused in the Boston Massacre. Citing rules prohibiting media contact without permission from the Defense Department, and, most importantly, rules requiring that counsel agree to have client conversations monitored, Goldman writes that “with considerable regret, we cannot advise our members to act as civilian counsel at Guantanamo.”

Incoming NACDL President E. E. “Bo” Edwards placed the issue on the agenda for his first meeting as president. “I want our board to get a chance to make a statement about the problems raised by these rules,” said Edwards, a criminal defense lawyer from Nashville. “We consider representation of unpopular defendants a part of our job. But we are concerned that ethical rules governing lawyers’ conduct prevent us from representing any of these detainees under current circumstances.” 

(Click here to read related article from The Champion: "Guantanamo: Little hope for zealous advocacy," by Lawrence S. Goldman, July 2003/ Click here for more information on the Denver meeting including an agenda.)

More information is available at under News & Issues.

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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.