Washington, DC (May 18, 1998) -- In a decision that could affect hundreds of prisoners across the country, the U.S. Supreme Court today decided that a 1995 case which defined "using or carrying" a firearm in relation to certain crimes may be retroactively applied. Even prisoners who pleaded guilty prior to the 1995 case, Bailey v. United States, should be allowed to show that they are actually innocent of the crime as now defined by the Court, the Chief Justice says in today's decision, Bousley v. United States.
"Although Congress severely restricted a prisoner's access to federal courts when it gutted habeas corpus two years ago, there is still room to argue actual innocence," said Gerald B. Lefcourt, President of the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers (NACDL). "Before Bailey, prosecutors and courts interpreted the firearm statute far too broadly, and hundreds of federal prisoners were convicted by the court or pleaded guilty and are serving mandatory firearms sentences, when in actuality no firearm was used in the offense. What this means for Bousley, and hundreds of others, is that he will get his chance to prove that the conduct that formed the basis of his guilty plea wasn't illegal."
In another decision today, the Court held that the Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act of 1996 (AEDPA) does not bar a death row inmate from re-raising a claim for relief if the prior claim was dismissed on a technicality (Stewart v. Martinez-Villareal). "Since the AEDPA essentially limits prisoners to a single bite of the habeas 'apple,' to hold that dismissal of a habeas corpus petition on technical grounds bars him from properly raising his claim would mean that his claim would likely never be heard, no matter how meritorious," Lefcourt observed. "That could lead to some horrible miscarriages of justice."
Ronald H. Weich and Bonnie Robin-Vergeer, of the Washington, D.C. firm Zuckerman, Spaeder, Goldstein, Taylor and Kolker, authored the joint amici curiae brief in Bousley on behalf of NACDL and Families Against Mandatory Minimums. Edward M. Chikofsky, New York, and Mark E. Olive, of Tallahassee, wrote NACDL's amicus brief in Martinez-Villareal.
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.
NACDL Communications Department
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.