Washington, DC (August 6, 2008) – In light of today’s verdict in the case of United States v. Salim Ahmed Hamdan, President John Wesley Hall of the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers offered the following observations:
“The Pentagon must be very proud of itself today. It was able to obtain a conviction of arguably the least-culpable among the 80 detainees it intends to prosecute as war criminals. It convicted a truck driver of being guilty of driving a truck.”
Hall is a noted criminal defense lawyer and legal ethics expert who defended a war crime prosecution in Sierra Leone. He is also on the List of Counsel at the International Criminal Court in The Hague.
“The military commission system does not reflect ‘the best traditions of the American legal system,’ as the administration has maintained. Nor can it be said that the split verdict in any way shows that the system ‘works,’” Hall cautioned. “What the not guilty verdict does show is that the six U.S. military officers who served as jurors followed both their consciences and their common sense – a low-level Yemeni driver in Afghanistan simply does not fit the definition of a war criminal. Salim Ahmed Hamdan should not be a fall guy for Osama bin Laden.
“But the guilty verdict shows that the military commission system is rigged to convict, as NACDL has maintained. When driving and maintaining vehicles becomes the basis for a war crime conviction, every mechanic in the motor pool, every camp cook, even a medic who could be a conscientious objector, is subject to prosecution. In reality, the Pentagon should be embarrassed for the massive waste of resources this six-year prosecution has squandered. Will we try every captured person?
“But worst of all, even if Hamdan’s conviction is overturned on appeal, it is likely he will spend the rest of his life behind bars. The whole point of this trial was to justify the life sentence he received long ago when the president declared him an unlawful enemy combatant.
“Over 200 years ago, patriotic Americans rejected incommunicado detentions without counsel, physical and mental abuse, forced confessions, secret evidence, secret witnesses and hearsay when they ratified the Bill of Rights. I fear that the world will perceive us as having become the oppressor we rebelled against in 1776.”
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.