As a fellow criminal defense lawyer, I know how challenging the rapidly developing circumstances surrounding the coronavirus are to all of us, our offices, and our clients. I write to you today to remind you that NACDL is here, as strong as ever, to provide as much support as we are able to America’s criminal defense bar and the imperiled individuals we represent.
Just this past weekend, in the midst of a jury trial in the Southern District of New York, after the declaration of a national state of emergency and a similar declaration by New York authorities, the government refused to agree to a stay in order to protect the health and safety of all of the people involved in the trial. Their position was even more disconcerting since individuals in that U.S. Attorney’s Office have been diagnosed with the virus, and the government’s argument that no stay was necessary was predicated on the assertion that the Assistant U.S. Attorneys in the case were not showing any symptoms of having coronavirus. Yet other agencies of the same federal government have warned that one of the most pernicious aspects of the disease is that it can be transmitted by those who are asymptomatic. NACDL’s renowned Lawyers’ Assistance Strike Force was called in and late Sunday filed a letter strongly supporting the motion for a stay in the case. Shortly thereafter, the government dropped its objection to a stay. And yesterday, the judge in the case granted the stay. This is your NACDL Lawyers’ Assistance Strike Force working for you.
This is also a time to remember the incredible value of NACDL’s listserves, especially as relates to sharing information, guidance, and tips for handling coronavirus-related issues in your cases. You all are a tremendous resource for each other, and many are already sharing information on NACDLConnect lists. From sample motions and briefs to orders reflecting successful efforts on behalf of our clients, I encourage you to share such content on our lists and with NACDL Senior Director of Communications Ivan Dominguez (firstname.lastname@example.org), who is working with members of the staff to build a coronavirus resource page that will offer links to various resources being collected by NACDL and others in the criminal justice community. Keep an eye on NACDL’s home page this week for the launch of that resource.
We can also advocate in our local communities on behalf of our clients, including the very vulnerable population of incarcerated people. Lawyers and local bar associations can request that judges, who play an important role as gatekeepers when it comes to our jails, require local detention facility authorities to disclose the steps that they are taking to protect the population in their custody. The CDC has issued a strong recommendation that people in America avoid crowds of more than 50 people for the next eight weeks. The president just issued coronavirus guidance for the next 15 days that includes avoiding gatherings of more than 10 people. Well, every jail, prison, and other detention facility in this nation is, in a very real sense, a crowd of more than 10, more than 50. And the sanitary conditions in many of these facilities were abysmal before the arrival of the coronavirus pandemic. We need to be creative as well. We should push the government to be more flexible on everything from whether a summons would suffice in lieu of a warrant, where the defendant does not pose a clear danger, to whether a voluntary surrender date can be delayed.
Some of you are learning that NACDL’s “Making Sense of Science XIII: Forensic Science and the Law Seminar,” previously scheduled to take place in Las Vegas, NV, on April 3-4, 2020, must be cancelled. That said, this is a good time to remind you that from self-study to publications, to on-demand CLE, NACDL’s CLE Institute offers a wealth of educational options for you. NACDL will continue to monitor the evolving situation day-to-day and provide updates or potential changes to its CLE calendar as necessary.
NACDL will remain in close contact with you throughout this challenging time, keeping you updated as to the Association’s work, including its educational programs as well as its legal and policy efforts. Now more than ever, we need to come together as the criminal defense bar and support one another and the mission and vision we all hold so dearly.
Best wishes for good health to you and yours,
Nina J. Ginsberg, NACDL President
Pattern Cross-Examination for DNA and Biological Evidence: A Trial Strategy Guide
NACDL’s Pattern Cross-Examination for DNA and Biological Evidence will assist criminal defense practitioners in scoring points when cross-examining forensic experts in cases involving DNA and biological evidence. This resource contains thousands of questions that will help defense lawyers cross-examine challenging witnesses without reinventing the wheel with each new case. It includes pattern questions that can be used to dominate prosecution DNA experts and level the playing field at trial.
Cross-Examination of the Analyst in Drug Prosecutions (2nd Ed.) By James M. Shellow
Now in its second edition with some new material, James M. Shellow’s book offers what its title promises: ways of thinking about cross-examining the forensic analysts in drug cases. But the book is so much more than that. It offers a look inside the mind of one of the finest cross-examiners and defense lawyers the United States has produced in the last seventy years. This small book can inspire and direct you in making big changes in the way you defend your clients and think about the entire project of trying any case.
Justice For All, Justice Now White T-Shirt (Women’s)
This custom, vintage-faded NACDL t-shirt is 50% polyester, 25% cotton, and 25% rayon weighing 5.2 oz. and is lightwieght, flexible and soft, providing maximum comfort. It features the "Justice For All, Justice Now" slogan and Lady Liberty image on the front, with the NACDL logo on the back. Currently available in both men's and women's sizes in both black and white colors. View the full line-up of colors and sizes on our online store, as well as our other popular and best-selling t-shirt designs at: nacdl.org/store.
Drug Cases Resource Materials Collection - CD-ROM
NACDL’s Drug Cases Resource Materials Collection is the sweeping culmination of every single article of written materials ever published from each installment of NACDL's annual "Defending Modern Drug Cases" seminar. Totaling over 12,000 pages, this vast collection includes 12+ years of motions, briefs, reports, outlines, transcripts, case citations, scholarly articles, powerpoints and other written commentaries. This collection provides trial strategies and tactics you can immediately apply to your current cases.
Mental Illness & the Law: Addressing and Litigating Behavioral Health Disorders in Criminal Cases
Whether it is insanity, impairment, a disorder, or adolescent brain development; mental health and intellectual competence issues affect pretrial supervision, trial and sentencing, and your chances of successfully advocating for your impaired client. This training provides ideas and proven solutions to assist you in advocating for your client during trial, whether it be insanity defenses, jury selection, cross of expert witnesses, persuasion, or mitigation at sentencing.