Washington, DC (June 12, 2014) – Public defenders from around the country, and other lawyers with training responsibilities, are gathering at the Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law from June 8 to 13, 2014, to train in the most current complex forensic science issues. With support from the Foundation for Criminal Justice, Cardozo Law and the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers (NACDL) hosted the inaugural, first-of-its-kind NACDL-Cardozo Law National Forensic College (NFC), with an aim of significantly decreasing the number of people incarcerated via wrongful convictions.
"Training lawyers in the latest in forensic science means we are creating a network of public defenders who are better armed in the courtroom, and more prepared to win their case," said Cardozo Law Professor Barry Scheck, co-founder of the Innocence Project. "Spreading this type of knowledge is essential in our goal of decreasing the numbers of those wrongfully imprisoned."
For each subject matter area, a faculty of leading scientists, litigators, and scholars in the field are covering latest developments and systematically strategizing how forensic issues can be approached at each stage in a case.
"The National Forensic College reflects Cardozo Law’s commitment to reforming the criminal justice system to prevent wrongful convictions," said Cardozo Law Dean Matthew Diller. "As the home of the Innocence Project, the school has been involved in freeing innocent prisoners through DNA evidence from the beginning. The NFC will help advance this cause throughout the nation."
In the six-day college, lawyers and scientific experts are forming working groups to make sure each of the trainees became part of a national network that shares the best information, uses and develops the best experts, and pursues disciplined and sophisticated law reform strategies. The college instructs the newly trained lawyers to then train their colleagues at their office in the latest in forensic science.
"This is precisely the sort of program that is a core part of the NACDL mission – fostering the expertise of the criminal defense profession. NACDL, through its myriad training programs, is committed to ensuring that all attorneys – private and public defenders – are equipped to deliver the very best, cutting edge defense to their clients," said NACDL Executive Director Norman L. Reimer. "We are delighted to have partnered with the Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law to make such an important program a reality."
The college is thoroughly training lawyers in a multitude of issues. "Litigating DNA Cases: Low Template DNA and Databank Access” looked at updates to legal rulings that concern the admissibility of low copy number DNA, new studies dealing with the prevalence of contaminated DNA in labs, and the issues associated with the interpretation of complex mixed DNA samples. "Litigating False Confession Cases" included a discussion on selecting experts in false confession cases, preparing client testimony, and a lecture/demonstrative on cross-examination questions in false confession cases. "Litigating Forensic Economic Crimes” included discussion concerning the calculation and evaluation of loss, "materiality" of accounting misstatements, and litigation of mortgage fraud. "Litigating Eyewitness Identification Cases” focused on findings related to eyewitness memory and perception, recent legal developments on eyewitness ID, and how to tell a compelling story about why the witness is wrong. Other panels included "Litigating Pattern Evidence Cases: Fingerprints," and "Litigating Digital Evidence Cases – Focus on Cellphones."
The defenders from offices that were unable to make a contribution toward tuition or lodging had their participation subsidized by the sponsors.
This program was made possible by support from Cardozo, the Foundation for Criminal Justice, and corporate and law firm sponsors.
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.
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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.