Washington, DC (June 10, 2010) – The National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers (NACDL) condemns the unrelenting intimidation of American criminal defense lawyers in Rwanda and reiterates its call for the prompt release of Prof. Peter Erlinder together with an immediate end to the Rwandan government’s interference with the criminal defense function. NACDL stands with the 30 defense lawyers practicing before the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) who together, in a statement to the court and the UN Security Council, said they fear for their own safety and have demanded Erlinder's immediate release.
Erlinder, a professor at William Mitchell College of Law in St. Paul, Minn., was arrested on May 28, 2010, on charges of “genocide ideology,” or genocide denial, for statements allegedly made before the ICTR and in the United States. He has been representing presidential candidate Victoire Ingabire Umuhoza, an opposition candidate in upcoming elections who herself was recently arrested on the same charge and released. Prof. Erlinder was denied bail on June 7 and remains in police custody. In addition, it is now being reported that NACDL member Peter Robinson, a Santa Rosa, Calif., defense attorney working in the ICTR, is being threatened with charges of contempt. In light of the arrest and detention of Prof. Erlinder, Robinson, who represents Joseph Nzirorera, the former President of the Rwandan National Assembly, is seeking to withdraw from his defense before the ICTR. It is further reported that Kurt Kerns, a Wichita, Kan., defense attorney and NACDL member, was threatened with arrest for “unauthorized practice of law” after allegedly referring to the police who arrested Erlinder as “punks.”
Taken together, these events, and the ongoing, outrageous detention of Prof. Erlinder, suggest an effort by the current regime to repress political opposition leaders as the August elections in Rwanda approach.
“While the genocide in Rwanda was truly a tragedy from which Rwanda has yet to fully recover, this blatant intimidation of respected criminal defense attorneys undermines the very basis of the criminal justice system in that nation,” NACDL President Cynthia Hujar Orr said today. “As long as the Kagame regime continues to interfere with criminal defense lawyers representing the accused, justice will remain out of reach for Rwanda. NACDL challenges the Kagame government to live up to the democratic ideals espoused by the Rwandan constitution and the African Charter on Human and People’s Rights and to immediately cease this highly improper and self-destructive campaign of intimidation.”
NACDL also supports the resolution introduced in the House of Representatives by Rep. Betty McCollum on Tuesday (H.Res. 1426) urging the Rwandan government to release Prof. Erlinder and allow him to return to the United States, Orr said.
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.
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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.