News Release

Nation's Criminal Defense Bar Remembers Past President Murray J. Janus

Washington, DC (January 26, 2013) – Richmond, Va., attorney and Past President (1981-82) and Life Member of the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers (NACDL) Murray J. Janus passed away overnight. Janus was also a former president of the Richmond Bar Association and the Richmond Criminal Bar Association, as well as a past chair of the Virginia State Bar’s Criminal Law Section. The Association remembers Murray with immense gratitude for his leadership of the nation’s criminal defense bar and his lifelong commitment to the principles and values that define NACDL. 

NACDL’s President Steven D. Benjamin, also from Richmond, said “Murray Janus was the epitome of a criminal defense lawyer and the model of a dignified professional for me and all who knew him. He taught us by his example the importance of intellect, hard work, and knowledge in the representation of our clients. He made us better lawyers. He was a great and caring friend. His mentorship and strength guided us through the challenge of practicing the most difficult work in the law. He will be missed by his many friends and colleagues, but his influence on generations of lawyers will be forever felt and remembered." 

Upon being sworn in as NACDL President at the 1981 annual meeting of the Association at the Hotel Bonaventure in Montreal, Quebec, Janus pledged to continue to make NACDL a growing, vibrant organization committed its role as “Liberty’s Last Champion.” And he most certainly did. He missed no opportunity to remind America’s criminal defense lawyers of the importance of NACDL’s public education efforts about the nature and importance of the defense function in the criminal justice system. In his column in the January-February 1982 issue of The Champion, he said that educating the public and the media is key to returning our society to the proper framework, one in which “defendants would again be presumed to be innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt[.]” Janus was also very concerned about the erosion of Americans’ Fourth Amendment rights, warning back in 1982 that “[i]f we sit silent and do nothing while the exclusionary rule is abolished throughout the land, we not only will have helped set the law of civil liberties back 25 years, but our children and their children will be the poorer for it.” 

 “It’s a sad day for the nation’s criminal defense bar. We have lost a great role model. The entire NACDL community extends its condolences to Murray Janus’s family,” NACDL Executive Director Norman L. Reimer said. 

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Ivan J. Dominguez, 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.