Washington, DC (December 11, 2007) – Carmen D. Hernandez, president of the 13,000-member National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers, issued the following statement praising the decision of the U.S. Sentencing Commission to make the 2007 cocaine base guideline amendment retroactive for all affected federal prisoners:
“The Commission did the right thing today when it acted to correct the injustice that had resulted from the current 100:1 crack/powder ratio for cocaine offenses by allowing defendants who were sentenced under that scheme to benefit from the modest changes that the Commission made last year. For more than a decade, the Commission on its own and at the request of Congress has studied crack cocaine sentences and found, based on scientific research and on common experience, that sentences for crack cocaine offenses furthered, rather than eliminated, unwarranted sentencing disparity. Low level crack dealers are sentenced more severely than major powder cocaine traffickers even though both crack and powder cocaine are the same chemical and with the same effects. This unwarranted disparity is particularly disturbing because of its racial impact – 83 percent of inmates serving time in the federal prison for crack cocaine offenses are minorities, and their sentences are more than 50 percent longer than inmates serving time for cocaine powder.”
With the recent decision by the Supreme Court in United States v. Kimbrough, which affirmed the discretion of federal judges to consider that the crack cocaine guidelines render sentences that are “greater than necessary” to achieve just punishment, federal judges will be able to consider the nature and circumstances of each offense and the history and characteristics of each offender in resentencing defendants, who have been serving unjustifiable sentences. “The benefit from the modest reductions that the Commission made earlier this year should not be based on whether a defendant was sentenced on the first day of November or the last day of October,” Hernandez said.
The Commission’s action is a partial remedy to the harsh sentences that apply to crack cocaine offenses. It remains for Congress to heed the work of the Sentencing Commission and further reduce crack sentences to bring them in line with sentences for cocaine and other drug offenses, which are already greater than necessary to serve the goals of just punishment.
Ms. Hernandez, a criminal defense lawyer in Washington, D.C. and federal sentencing expert, testified in favor of reducing the crack/powder penalty disparity before the Sentencing Commission last fall. Her written statement may be found on the Commission’s web site at: http://www.ussc.gov/hearings/11_15_06/Hernandez-NACDL-testimony.pdf.
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.