Washington, DC (Aug. 1, 2014) – This morning, at the 57th Annual Meeting and Seminar of the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers (NACDL) and 13th Annual Conference of NACDL’s State Criminal Justice Network Conference, U.S. Attorney General Eric H. Holder, Jr. delivered important remarks concerning criminal justice reform and the important role played by the criminal defense bar in ensuring the promise of a fairer and more humane criminal justice system.
In his speech, Holder issued a warning against the potential consequences of the use of "risk assessments" and aggregate data analysis in sentencing to "both public safety and racial justice." The Attorney General said:
By basing sentencing decisions on static factors and immutable characteristics – like the defendant’s education level, socioeconomic background, or neighborhood – they may exacerbate unwarranted and unjust disparities that are already far too common in our criminal justice system and in our society. Criminal sentences must be based on the facts, the law, the actual crimes committed, the circumstances surrounding each individual case, and the defendant’s history of criminal conduct. They should not be based on unchangeable factors that a person cannot control, or on the possibility of a future crime that has not taken place.
Accordingly, Holder announced that the Justice Department is urging the Sentencing Commission "to study the use of data-driven analysis in front-end sentencing – and to issue policy recommendations based on this careful, independent, analysis."
The Attorney General made these remarks in the context of a call to globally rethink sentencing approaches. "Ultimately, we're striving to turn the page on an era, and an approach, that relied on incarceration over rehabilitation; that emphasized punishment over outcomes; and that too often discounted the ability of our justice system to prepare criminal defendants to reenter their communities as productive members of society," he said.
NACDL President Jerry J. Cox hailed Attorney General Holder's remarks, "As we look to the future, it is imperative that we pursue reforms with the goal of eliminating the racial and economic disparities which have plagued the nation's criminal justice system for too long."
Attorney General Holder was introduced by NACDL Executive Director Norman L. Reimer, who noted that, "For the first time in decades, there is a growing sense that the tide is turning against the national thirst for ever harsher, longer, crueler sentences. For many who had lost hope, the dream of freedom has been rekindled."
The full text of Attorney General Holder’s prepared remarks is available 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.
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.
Ivan J. Dominguez, Director of Public Affairs & Communications, (202) 465-7662 or email@example.com.
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.