News Release

Rick Jones Sworn in as 2017-18 President of Nation's Criminal Defense Bar

Washington, DC (July 31, 2017) -- New York City attorney Rick Jones was sworn in as President of the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers (NACDL) at the Association's Annual Meeting in San Francisco, CA, on July 29. The oath of office was administered by the Honorable Rowan D. Wilson, Associate Judge of the New York Court of Appeals, the highest court of the State of New York. Jones has served two terms on NACDL's Board of Directors and one year as Parliamentarian. He previously served as NACDL's President Elect, First Vice President, Second Vice President, and Secretary.

Jones currently practices criminal defense in New York City, where he is the Executive Director and a founding member of the Neighborhood Defender Service of Harlem (NDS). NDS has gained national and international recognition for its innovative, holistic, community-based approach to public defense. NDS combines criminal defense work with the services of civil, family, and immigration attorneys, social workers, advocates, investigators, and others to meet the needs of its clients. Jones teaches the criminal defense externship at Columbia Law School as well as a trial practice course. He also serves on the faculty of the National Criminal Defense College in Macon, GA and is a member of the board of the International Law Foundation (ILF).

"The problem with our justice system is not that it's broken, but that it's racist to the core, and deliberately so," NACDL President Rick Jones said after being sworn in. "We are living in an age when it would be easy to take cover, keep our heads down, stay out of the fray. In many quarters it would be acceptable were we to say 'we're just biding our time, keeping our powder dry.' And while it might be acceptable, it would be wrong. Now is the time to lead. Now, more than ever, is the time for our voices to be heard. We must be courageous. We must be vigilant. We must be unafraid. We must be committed to eliminating the racism and sexism and classism that delegitimizes our American system of justice."

During his many years of service to NACDL, Jones has co-chaired NACDL's Public Defense Committee and the Special Task Force on Problem-Solving Courts and also played a pivotal role as a member of the Body Camera Task Force. He is currently serving as co-chair of the Task Force on the Restoration of Rights and Status After Conviction, which released the groundbreaking report Collateral Damage: America's Failure to Forgive or Forget in the War on Crime. Jones is a member of the State Legislative Affairs and Budget committees, and also serves as the NACDL representative to the National Task Force on Fines, Fees and Bail Practices. Most recently, Jones called for the convening of NACDL's inaugural Presidential Summit and Seminar, Race Matters: The Impact of Race on Criminal Justice, which will be held in Detroit, MI, this fall. Through his work at NACDL, Jones has traveled to every region of the country, as well as abroad to Liberia, promoting fairness, equality, and justice for the poor and dispossessed. In 2016, Jones was awarded NACDL's Robert C. Heeney Memorial Award for best demonstrating the goals and values of the Association and of the legal profession. In addition, in 2014, Jones received NACDL's Champion of Justice Award, which recognizes individuals who devote their time to ensuring justice and due process for the accused.

Jones sits on the boards of the New York State Bar Association Criminal Justice Section Executive Committee, the New York State Defenders Association (NYSDA), and the Sirius Foundation. He is also a member of the inaugural steering committee of the National Association for Public Defense (NAPD), and he has been engaged with the Brennan Center for Justice's Community Oriented Defender Network and the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund. He is a commissioner on the Council on Community Re-Entry and Reintegration, and serves on the Editorial Board of the Amsterdam News. He also participated as an expert in a Rule of Law Symposium sponsored by the United Nations in Monrovia, Liberia, traveled to Kathmandu, Nepal to help build the defense function into their newly created constitutional government, and was an invited speaker at the 2nd International Conference on Access to Legal Aid in Criminal Justice Systems, in Buenos Aires, Argentina.

Jones completed his bachelor's degree at the University of Michigan and earned his law degree at the Rutgers University School of Law.

A photo of Mr. Jones is available here. PHOTO CREDIT: Photo by Bradley Lau.

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Ivan J. Dominguez, NACDL Director of Public Affairs & 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.