Washington, DC (June 19, 2018) – Late yesterday, U.S. District Court Judge Royce Lamberth vacated the criminal contempt conviction against Marine Brig. Gen. John Baker, the Chief Defense Counsel for the Military Commissions Defense Organization (MCDO). In a 27-page opinion, the Court found that Military Judge Spath’s summary conviction of General Baker was “unlawful because only a military commission acting through its regularly constituted members is authorized to convict a person of any offense under Chapter 47A” and “a military judge is not a member of a military commission nor is he ‘the military commission’ within the meaning of that chapter.”
On November 1, 2017, General Baker had been held in contempt by Judge Spath and sentenced to 21 days confinement in his quarters and a $1,000 fine. General Baker was held in contempt after his determination on October 13, 2017, that there was good cause to allow the withdrawal of three civilian members of the defense team in the case of United States v. Nashiri due to concerns that the government compromised attorney-client confidentiality. United States v. Nashiri is the trial of Abd al Rahim al Nashiri, who is the alleged mastermind of the 2000 bombing of the U.S.S. Cole. Judge Spath held General Baker in contempt for declining to rescind his decision allowing the three civilian lawyers to withdraw.
Barry J. Pollack, National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers (NACDL) Immediate Past President and a partner at the law firm of Robbins, Russell, Englert, Orseck, Untereiner & Sauber LLP in Washington, who took on the pro bono representation of General Baker at the behest of NACDL's Lawyers' Assistance Strike Force, said: "Yesterday’s decision confirms that the contempt finding was unlawful. Brigadier General Baker should have never been found in contempt for decisions he made admirably serving his country and the rule of law. "
NACDL President Rick Jones said: "Given the repeated instances of attorney-client privilege violations at Guantanamo, having the temerity to punish defense lawyers for doing their job was indeed a new low. But Judge Spath’s finding of contempt was one a federal court has now clearly stated cannot stand. That said, the military commissions are seriously flawed. And they remain so."
NACDL has long been concerned about attorney-client privilege at Guantanamo, as reflected, for example, in its 2012 NACDL ethics opinion. Previous NACDL statements on Guantanamo and attorney-client communications can be found here, here, here, here, and here.
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.
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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.
Ivan Dominguez, NACDL Director of Public Affairs and Communications, (202) 465-7662 or firstname.lastname@example.org
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.