Washington, DC (Dec. 21, 2015) – Today, the Office of New York Governor Andrew M. Cuomo officially announced a plan to pardon many thousands of people who were convicted of a misdemeanor or a non-violent felony at the age of 16 or 17, but who have had no other convictions since. The criteria that applicants must meet are provided here. By this action, thousands of individuals stand to have multiple, significant barriers to successful re-entry into the community removed.
"Today's dramatic action by New York Governor Andrew Cuomo is a tremendous victory for all who have been fighting for criminal justice reform, and in particular those who have worked tirelessly to shine the light on the myriad ways in which criminal convictions erect often insurmountable barriers to re-entry — including housing, employment, and education, among countless other areas," said E.G. "Gerry" Morris, President of the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers (NACDL). "In its sweeping restoration of rights and status, the Governor's wholesale pardon initiative will go a long way toward opening doors for those who committed offenses during these formative years of adolescence, a developmental stage that the Supreme Court in recent decisions has expressly acknowledged makes youthful offenders different. The President and other states' governors should take a cue from Governor Cuomo's action today."
"Governor Cuomo's decision to issue this categorical pardon is an historic breakthrough in the national movement to promote the restoration of rights," said NACDL Executive Director Norman L. Reimer. "It is a major step forward in the effort to combat the life-altering consequences of a criminal conviction and will serve as a model for governors throughout the nation. As importantly, it reinvigorates the pardon power as an integral and apolitical component of a rational and humane criminal justice system that balances public safety with mercy and forgiveness."
Last year, after years of research and hearings across the nation, NACDL issued a groundbreaking report on the consequences of arrest and conviction affecting at least 65 to 70 million people in America. That report is entitled Collateral Damage: America's Failure to Forgive or Forget in the War on Crime – A Roadmap to Restore Rights and Status After Arrest or Conviction. Among the recommendations set forth in the report is that "full restoration of rights and status should be available to convicted individuals upon completion of sentence." The report explains the importance of the pardon process being depoliticized so that pardons are granted in appropriate cases.
In that regard, NACDL recommends that the state and federal pardon processes be made more transparent and accountable, and that grants be made generously pursuant to clear standards:
- The pardon process, at both the presidential and gubernatorial levels, should be handled by an independent executive office and staffed by attorneys with diverse backgrounds and professional experience.
- Pardons should be considered an integral part of the criminal justice system, and should be used to offer relief and restoration of rights to individuals demonstrating need for such relief.
- In the many states and the federal system where pardons are rarely if ever granted, the pardoning authority should reinvigorate the pardon process and grant pardons to deserving individuals.
The report continues, discussing the value of normalizing and routinizing the pardon process through ground rules and guidelines.
To read more about NACDL's extensive work in the area of restoration of rights and status after conviction, visit http://www.nacdl.org/restoration/.
And to access resources of the law and practice in each U.S. jurisdiction relating to relief from the collateral consequences of conviction, including pardon power, visit http://www.nacdl.org/rightsrestoration/.
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, NACDL Director of Public Affairs & Communications, (202) 465-7662 or email@example.com for more information.
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.