Washington, DC (December 10, 2003) -- A new “get tough” plea bargaining policy issued by Attorney General John Ashcroft in September has not resulted in any major changes in the courtroom, according to a recent poll of U.S. attorney’s offices around the country conducted by the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers.
The survey indicates that most offices considered themselves already in compliance with the Ashcroft directive. “It has not affected us at all,” said a spokesman for Washington, D.C., U.S. Attorney Roscoe Howard Jr. “Our policies are pretty much the same.” Other offices agreed, on and off the record.
Ashcroft sent a memo to all U.S. attorneys Sept. 22 ordering that federal prosecutors must charge the most serious “readily provable” charge. Plea bargains in most cases are to be limited to the most serious charge, even in cases where the defendant agrees to cooperate and become a witness for the government.
NACDL President E.E. (Bo) Edwards, Nashville, said he was surprised to hear that the charging and plea policies are "business as usual" in many offices for some time, according to the report. “But most important, perhaps, is that now we have a better idea of just how the ‘Ashcroft policy’ is affecting things nationwide,” he said.
NACDL contacted large and small U.S. attorneys offices across the country serving urban, suburban and rural areas in California, Colorado, the District of Columbia, Maine, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, New Mexico, New York, Pennsylvania, Virginia and Washington state. The full text of the report can be found on the NACDL Web site at www.nacdl.org under News & Issues. The text of the Sept. 22, 2003 Ashcroft memorandum can be found on the same site at www.nacdl.org/departures under Legal Resources.
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.